It can be easy for us to get lazy. We get comfortable ordering out at restaurants and then suddenly we’re glutenized and sick. I am an optimistic person when it comes to restaurants adding gluten-free items. I like to think that they’re going above and beyond to ensure they’re making perfectly gluten-free food. But last night I had an experience that proved me wrong.
First off, don’t worry, no one got sick. — Thankfully!
Just the other day I mentioned on this blog that my brother had a great experience when he stopped at Red’s Savoy Pizza in Hugo, Minnesota. The company website not only touts gluten-free pizza, but mentions a sister pizzeria in Coon Rapids, which is closer to my home. So I called and tried to order a pizza. Boy, was that a bumbling conversation.
When I called, I explained that I understood they had gluten-free pizza and the woman who answered the phone said yes. Then I asked her which toppings are gluten-free. She replied saying she didn’t know what I was talking about. I was very surprised. So I probed further. I asked how they made their pizzas, she said with the crust, then sauce and cheese and toppings. Then I said, “Exactly, toppings…which toppings are gluten-free?”
The lady continued to be confused asking me how it was possible any of their toppings could contain gluten? I explained fillers that could be in the toppings…I didn’t even get to the the topic of cross contamination. Finally our conversation ended — of course with me not ordering anything.
What a disappointing experience.
In my “Land of the Gluten-Free”– everyone who considers adding a gluten-free menu, also considers the education and changes that need to happen with employees and in the kitchen. I know there are places who have done this. And I applaud you! This absolutely is the way it should be!
But in this case, the person on the other end of the line had no idea what I was talking about and when I asked for someone who might have more information, she said she was the person who could answer the questions. Bad idea.
Please — restaurants I implore you — don’t just do gluten-free to do it. Do gluten-free, because you want to, there’s a market for it, and that you’re passionate to do it right. Need any help? Any gluten-free blogger in your city can point you in the direction of experts who can make sure you’re on the right path to a safe gluten-free menu.
In the meantime, we celiacs and people with gluten-sensitivities need to be vigilant in checking in with restaurants to make sure ingredients and kitchen preparations are safe for a gluten-free meal.