Tuesday, May 25, 2010

National Restaurant Association & Allergenistas – We are on our Way!

On Sunday, I attended the annual Restaurant Show at McCormick Place. I have, along with support groups and other bloggers, advocated vocalizing your needs as allergenistas at restaurants, stores and on-line venues and...

It’s working, it’s working! Not only did the National Restaurant Association hold a session for restaurant owners to learn the ins and outs of adding a Gluten Free/Allergen Free Menu in their restaurants titled, “Gluten-Free: Easy as ABCDE”, but the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness sponsored a pavilion with manufacturers of some of our favorite allergen free foods along with some new things to try.

Ok, what does this mean for you? Well the NRA Restaurant Show is attended by thousands of restaurateurs from all around the country looking for equipment, ideas to increase revenues and products for their restaurants. The show also holds sessions about hot topics and trends in the restaurant industry and celiac and food allergies are emerging trends in the industry. This means in the very new future - more options for you when you dine out.

The session “Gluten-Free: Easy as ABCDE was a 1½ hour session that was packed with restaurant owners and chefs learning about developing an allergen/gluten free menu. The speakers included:
- Kay Conley, executive chef/owner, Savory Moment
- Jim McCurley, regional chef, P.F. Chang’s China Bistro
- Doug Radi, Vice president, marketing, Charter Baking Company
- Anne Roland Lee MS, RD, director, food and nutritional Services Schar USA
- Richard J. Coppedge, Jr., CMB, professor, baking and pastry arts, Culinary Institute of America - Tom Herndon, owner/chef, Hipp Kitchen and the Full Fridge

This group outlined the dedication, tenacity and diligence the task of developing an allergen/gluten free menu that will keep your guests Safe & Sound will be. They went over every step of preparation and service, from proper storage of product to special plating for allergen free dishes to make sure the diner stays safe but doesn’t feel different. I also got the thrill of being mentioned during the session, Chef Tom Herndon, addressed us all as allergenistas, he later told me that Lisa Cooks Allergen Free inspired him to start his business training restaurants to have successful allergen/gluten free menu programs! I feel so honored…

After the session, Gluten Free Betsy and I checked out the foods that are now available wholesale for restaurants - I love going with Betsy to these events, she can give you the low down on all the dairy filled products!
I was truly amazed at the new products to try, we have come so far in the last few years…. Can I hear a yippee for cream puffs or croissants?

First stop – Udi’s Bagels
The texture and taste of these bagels are outstanding, very close to their gluten filled counterpart. I encourage you to ask your favorite breakfast spot to carry these bagels…

Next up – Natural Cakes Éclairs and Puff Pastry Shells
These products are only offered thru a distributor, I am going to have to do some digging for more information on this product in terms of ingredients, but the fact that there is now a puff pastry gluten free is amazing! Keep posted for updates on this revolutionary GF product

On to Arepa De Choclo – A Sweet Corn Sandwich Bread, filled with low fat mozzarella cheese, and this is a great GF/soy free alternative to your standard grilled cheese, the flavor is a little sweet from the corn, but moist and tender in texture. I’d love to try a version, cheese free! We should introduce them to the folks at Daiya Cheese!

There were so many other great products, click here to go to my Facebook page to see them all.

We have all come so far allergenistas, looking forward to seeing what’s up next for us…keep asking for what you want or need and it will come!


Jenna said...

What is the brand of the arepa de cholo? And, do they sell at any store in Chicago? Thanks!

Lisa Cooks Allergen Free said...

All Over International Foods makes Arepa de Choclo. These are only sold locally in South Florida, but the restaurant show is to introduce these products to restaurants and other foodservice establishments, so start asking for them where you dine/shop. You can order this product on-line at http://www.arepa-de-choclo.com/index.php/distribucion/consumidor.html

Lisa Cooks Allergen Free said...

Hey everyone! If you are interested in learning more about the presentation, go to www.glutenfreebetsy.com she goes over each speaker!