Spo TliGh T oN …gluten-free
Gemignani uses a blend of rice and tapioca flours combined
with dry yeast, honey, aromatics and eggs whites to add
fluffiness to pizza dough. He’s experimented with coconut
flour, but the pizza crust had an undesirable flavor.
“The issue with gluten-free blended flours is that they are
more expensive compared to using a one-blend flour, which
results in gluten-free items costing more for the customer,”
Matt Fish, chef/owner of Melt Bar & Grilled, which has 10 locations in Ohio, doesn’t promote
the chain as being a gluten-free operation because of the nature of the business, which was founded
on grilled cheese sandwiches. Instead, he refers to the restaurants as “gluten-sensitivity friendly.”
One-third of Melt’s menu is gluten-free, and 16 sandwiches, four salads and two soups are
listed on a separate menu. Additionally, any item that has breaded chicken can be substituted with
grilled chicken. “All our food is made to order, so we have complete control over what goes into our
food and can make reasonable changes to meet a customer’s dietary concerns,” Fish says.
The Melt kitchen is alerted on tickets that state “gluten-free” when a gluten-free item is ordered.
The person who puts the order together will change gloves and use new cutting boards, utensils,
pans and pots. Additionally, an allergen guide at each location lists every item on the menu and
every ingredient within each item that could have a potential allergen.
Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort & Spa, Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, has seven food outlets and 60,000
square feet of meeting space. You might think a property that large would use premade sauces, stocks,
soups and dressings that often contain gluten. “We’re an old-world operation, where we prepare recipes
from scratch,” says Joe Natoli, executive chef. “This type of cooking ensures that we know every single
ingredient used, and can then stand behind our promise to be gluten-free on certain menu items.”
He recently served a 700-person banquet to a group that included many gluten-free diners.
The challenge with serving large groups is the risk of cross-contamination. “When it comes to
banquets, we err on the side of caution that there’ll be more food allergies than not,” Natoli says.
“So we develop recipes that are gluten-free so we don’t have to make two different recipes. For
example, soups and sauces are thickened with a cornstarch slurry.”
At each of the resort’s food outlets where gluten products are used for sandwiches, gluten-free
bread is on the line. When a gluten-free sandwich is ordered, it’s prepared on a dedicated cutting
board with clean utensils and new gloves. The sandwich is served immediately to help reduce the
possibility of cross-contamination.
At gusto!, 90% of the menu is gluten-free. A customer chooses a base of mixed greens,
brown rice or half and half, and a flatbread wrap, then grilled chicken, spicy chicken, grilled shrimp or
grilled portobello. Sauce choices are chili/sesame barbecue, chipotle/mango/avocado, tahini/cucumber/
feta, sweet soy/Sriracha, ginger/lime/peanut and tzatziki/lemon/artichoke. Gluten-free ingredients are
identified with a “GF” icon, and the website illustrates the ingredients in each sauce. “Seeing is believing,
and a picture is worth a thousand words,” Grodensky says.
Gemignani uses a Cuppone electric brick oven for gluten-free pizzas. “I still caution guests
that while the pizzas are cooked in a dedicated oven, they are baked in a flour environment, so
there is a chance of cross-contamination,” he says.
ROB BENES IS A CHICAGO-BASED HOSPITALITy INDUS TRy wRITER. HE CAN BE CON TACTED AT ROBBENES@COMCAS T.NE T.
above, leFT: Tony Gemignani’s gluten-free pizzas, baked in a dedicated oven,
are made with gluten-free dough and
topped with tomato sauce, mozzarella,
peppadews, banana peppers, basil,
laura Chenel goat cheese and garlic oil.
above, riGh T: woods hill Table
substitutes endive cups for crostini
in a beef tartare appetizer, which still
delivers a crunch factor.
bo TTom, leFT: bacon & blue salad
is similar to its gluten cousin, bread,
bacon & blue, but with the addition of
crisp pork belly and the elimination of
croutons at melt bar & Grilled.