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ConcernedCook

Gluten-free A Restaurant Cook's Perspective

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Thanks for all the info.

This past weekend I went back to my home town for a wedding. it is an extremely small town. The rehearsal dinner was held at a local resteraunt named Herman Sons Steak House. Because I dont live there anymore but my parents do I asked my mom to call for me. The are completely gluten-free. So when she called they of course never heard of it but were very interested in it. The went thru the items they were serving the wedding party and we realized I could eat the chicken breast. Now bc they grill their buns we asked if we needed to provide aluminum foil for my chicken and they said no we weill provide everything. They did mention the salad bar but we told them that would be taking a chance. they gave us the name of the night manager, the cook and the waitress. When I walked in the manager was greeting everyone and I told her who I was. She immediatly said yes we are looking forward to helping to tonight. She also stated that she had already spoke with the cook and waitress all i had to do was say who i was. So, I found my waitress and told her and she said yes that she new the situation. They had also prepared a base salad so that I could eat it. Which was awesome. My food was excellent and when I left I felt so happy that I had a great experience and also gave the resteraunt info on celiac disease. So yes I agree with calling atleast a day ahead to inform them about this gluten-free diet and have found that they are more than willing to help you out as much as possible. so now that resteraunt is added to my list. especially with both my parent having celiac disease and myself and 2 children. Any time we can eat out together is great. thanks again

christ

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Sorry for vanishing for a bit. I've been putting in crazy hours the last few days. Our chef decided that he wanted to scrap our menu for a few days and create a menu from scratch every day... lots of fun, but also lots of work. It also means that I haven't tested the aluminum foil thing either. It sounds like that may not be as critical now, but I'd like to still see for myself.

Anyway, Bridget, now you're making me feel lots of pressure since you're going to test NECI. I'm sure Burlington will treat you just fine, despite the fact that they aren't as good as us Montpelierites (a bit of a rivaldry if you couldn't tell), but I'll also warn you that I'm just learning this stuff in my last year at school in our nicest restaurant so you might want to be careful at the Commons. Even if the students don't know, I'm sure that the chef will and you will provide a fabulous learning moment in the kitchen. Butlers at the inn at Essex should be able to meet any of your needs though. Still, I'm pretty confident that any NECI outlet will take care of you even if they are just hacks in Burlington. ;) Oh, and don't quote me on this, but I think that the Grill in Montpelier has some flourless deserts.

Deb, I'm shocked that you went through so many caterers to find one who would cook a single gluten free meal for you. It seems to me that they're costing themselves a good sized gig since they wouldn't feed one of the critical people at the event what they wanted... Maybe I'm just crazy. Still, we just cooked for a party last night that contained, and I quote "two picky vegetarians" and the person who booked the party neglected to mention this to us or have a vegetarian meal on the menu. So, what I guess I'm saying is that there is some responsibility on both sides when it comes to special diets.

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Concerned Chef: yes it cost those two caterers because I told my soon to be married brother with a guest list of 125 not to use them. One is a large catering facility in Union, NJ the other is a smaller hotel in Kenilworth NJ. They flat out said no, they couldn't accomodate one Gluten Free meal. What's so hard about a piece of broiled plain chicken and plain, unseasoned mashed potatoes?

Anyway, thank you for your kindness in visiting this board. It's appreciated.

Deb

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Well folks, now I've gone and done it. I brought a print-out of this topic to the chef who started my whole curiosity with gluten-free food (along with the recipe packet which is a cause for great celebration, let me tell you) and he read the whole thing.

He was pretty intrigued by the whole thing though, and, Deb, your whole caterer search got him a bit annoyed (first because it was hard to find someone who would do a gluten-free meal and secondly because it was just mashed potatoes and chicken... He thought it should be more exciting while still being gluten free). Also, Bridget, he forwarded the whole thing to, among other people, the executive chef at montpelier campus, a few of our academic deans, and our marketing person (I think the president got one too but don't quote me on that). Anyway, I think he's hoping that they give me a free meal or something for the good publicity, but I'm hoping that it gives marketing a kick in the pants to make people more aware of our policy about allergies and dietary restrictions.

Finally, dum da da dum, I did the experiment with the aluminum foil on the grill, and it worked fairly well. I was pleased when it came out looking and tasting pretty close to something that had been directly over the fire (not quite exactly like it, but close) and I was even more pleased when I didn't have to sit and scrape aluminum foil off of the blazing hot grill. So, if you feel the need for a nice piece of grilled whatnot at a restaurant the piece of aluminum foil (which I still say they will have and should provide) is the way to go.

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Dear Concerned Cook:

The plain foods for my husband I admit are not exciting, but he is further restricted and cannot eat fruits and vegetables (except potatoes - white and sweet are ok of course) nor can he tolerate spices.

I asked for garlic chicken and plain mashed potatoes on the buffet to keep things simple for the caterer that we used. I didn't want to make things too complicated and respect their time as well as they had several other parties during that time slot to take care of anyway.

I have to tell you that the plain (butter & salt only) mashed potatoes "went." The gluten (not ok) food selections were eggplant rollatini, roast beef with gravy, garlic chicken (that's how my husband got his broiled white meat chicken - before they put the garlic chicken togther, they kept his portion aside) , sausage and peppers, green beans, paellea, various salads, baked ziti -- this was an afternoon party so I kept the selections varied and to be more of a luncheon atmosphere.

Thanks for your kindness and concern for all the celiacs.

Deb

P.S. the rejections from the other caterers were not from the chef, but from the Banquet Managers.

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Well, I emailed them myself last week (at the restaurants web site) and sang your incognito praises for this thread as well. So, hopefully at least someone has now seen this twice.

I still think they should give you a free class for all the publicity I alone will be giving NECI. Yeah, right. I work at a college, I know how it really works.

Anyway, I am just thrilled to hear that you passed along this thread and I hope they do use it in their advertising...or at the very least expand their education on the subject. I think they will be shocked at how much business they get. There are so many people out there with this issue, and other food allergy issues. I guarantee if there were a place that people knew they could go and feel safe, more of us would eat out.

If anyone from NECI wants to contact me, I'd be happy to lend an opinion or something. They can reach me at Champlain College in the Online Education Department.

Bridget Calacci

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Deb,

I figured your husband had more restrictions. Still, I don't think that would have changed my chef's reaction. It's just in the psychology of chefs to get fired up about food that isn't as good as they percieve it could be.

Anyway, Bridget,

I still haven't heard anything resulting from either your email or my chef, but we'll see if I hear anything about this. Also, about your email to me. NECI (montpelier, i don't know about essex/burlington) does offer cooking classes to the general public especially during the late fall, winter, and early spring (our slow times). I'll let the folks who put them together know that there might be interest in a gluten-free topic. Unfortunately, my class schedule makes it pretty much impossible for me to pull one off and, I'm very sad to say, that the chef who got me into this topic is moving to new york in a few weeks. Still, I'm sure that I can find someone to take up the cause and run a class here if not in burlington.

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This was great information. Thanks so much for the education and for listening to us as well.

Donna

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This has been a wonderful and really interesting discussion, I've really enjoyed our "cooks" insight. There are a few really popular restaurants here on Cape cod that I use to go to all the time and now that I have to do gluten-free I don't.... They are popular and busy all the time so I always feel like my dietary restrictions are a hassle, but after reading this thread, I'm thinking on an off night, maybe a tuesday I'll give it a try, perhaps I'll call ahead.

I've asked this before and I don't remember getting an answer... where can I get a resturant card that tells our dietary restrictions, has someone made their own up I can use?

lastly... to our resident Chef... I love Vermont and go there often in the summer I hope to catch up with you sometime, you sound like an interesting person and a great chef!

Susan

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I have been following these forums for a while and now decided to join in. I found a reference from another forum that I usually visit.

I am just wondering if any of you have tried Glutenzyme. It is an enzyme that breaks down any gluten that is hidden in food. I have been taking it for a long time and although it did not cure my problem I find it a God send for when I go dining out.

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I am just wondering if any of you have tried Glutenzyme. It is an enzyme that breaks down any gluten that is hidden in food.

There are a few problems w/ this theory.

1) Celiacs react to gliadin, not the gluten itself. (of course the gliadin is a component of wheat gluten)

2) It's a bit misleading to say it "breaks down any gluten that is hidden in food", since the enzymes you're referring to act on any gluten, regardless of how apparent its existence is. With so many valid topics on the subject of hidden gluten, to falsely claim that this product acts on "hidden gluten", can only serve to confuse the issue.

3) You say you've been taking it for a long time and it didn't solve your problem ! HOW exactly is it a "godsend" ?

4) "Breaking down" gluten, if effective, would actually INCREASE the amount of gliadin seen by the intestines.

5) From http://www.enzymestuff.com/conditionceliac.htm (3rd paragraph)

There is a certain structure in the gliadin that the small intestine sees as toxic in celiac individuals. The protease enzymes are not breaking this down in a way so that it does not cause a reaction in celiacs.

(The protease enzymes are the main ingred in Glutenzyme.)

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Glutenzyme (Cereal Digesting Enzyme Complex)

Ingredients typically per vegetable capsule

Gluten Protease  100mg

Cellulase 25mg

Amylase 10mg

Lactobacillus acidophilus  10mg

Non-active ingredients:

Vegetable Magnesium Stearate Capsule

Cellulose & Water

Background

Many people rely on cereals as part of their diet and avoidance is often difficult, particularly when eating out.

Glutenzyme Plus, the firs digestive enzyme designed to break down the gluten proteins in cereals and grains, may be useful when they cannot be avoided, allowing cereals and grains to be included as part of a healthy diet.

Glutenzyme Plus - To help make wheat, wheat products and other cereals more tolerable.

Benefits & Features

Gluten protease hydrolyses proteins - specifically gluten as found in whieat, barley, rye and oats

Amylase is required for the complete digestion of carbohydrates

Cellulase helps digest fibre and cellulose in food, therby assisting the release of nutrients

Acid stable agianist stomach pH

Provides Lactobacillus acidophilus to aid normal digestion and hekp re-establish normal intestinal microflora

Recommended Intake

One capsule taken with meals containing wheat, rye, barley and oats or as professionally directed

Contra-indications

Do not use in cases of intestinal ulceration or gastritis. In cases of coeliac disease, other factors must be considered and avoidance of cereals contining gluten may be best for the individual.

Ideal combinations (Some of the products below may not be here yet. Please email me if you require their details).

Bio-Acidophilus & HCI & Pepsin

I have not and would not take this product. It sounds as if the manufacturers are claiming to have created the sort of dream drug that many celiacs desire and to my knowledge, has not yet come. Tom's evidence seems pretty strong....I would not be taking that if I were you. The part I put in red and bold doesn't sound too good, either....."other factors must be considered...avoidance of cereals containing gluten may be best...."

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Agree with Tom and celiac3270. This enzyme doesn't appear to have the qualities you think it does.

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Since a lactose intolerance comes from not being able to break down the lactose molecule, it's easy to think of gluten intolerance as not being able to break down the gluten molecule, but that's just not the case. There is a subsegment of the amino acid sequence found in the main wheat, rye, and barley proteins that matches a receptor on a celiac's immune system molecule. Unless the enzyme were to break down that particular segment (and I doubt it - based on studies of the segment and what this product describes in the statement celiac3270 quoted), it will not alter the effect that consuming gluten has on a celiac.

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concernedcook, you rock my little gluten free world. seriously. if you are trying to figure out ways to make certain dishes gluten free, i bet you could get a celiac support group to come in and help you out. i know that the gluten intolerance group in seattle has been working with some restaurants to help them prepare gluten free menus. the outback steakhouse is one of them. they actually have a gluten free menu that you can ask for when you go there. same with pf chang's. i think it would be much easier for you to work with people who HAVE to know the ins and outs of the diet than to try to learn all about it yourself :). but the fact that you have taken such an interest really warms the cockles of my wee heart.

i have to admit, i am not all that adventurous when it comes to eating in restaurants. well, about the gluten anyway. i tend to stick with restaurants where things would obviously be gluten free, like thai (items without soy sauce) and indian. i call a few days beforehand to talk to the manager/chef about what's in the various dishes and how they are prepared. of course, i eat at the same restaurants so often that i don't need to do that anymore. i actually keep thinking about opening my own teeny restaurant that would be gluten free, but yummy full (hehe).

i actually just wanted to say thanks for putting so much effort into this. if i ever get to vermont, i will be sure to come to your restaurant. and i hadn't heard that about the nalgene. i may rethink my bottle. but, i'm a little bit of a hippy, and i would feel incomplete without it :).

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