Gluten Free Chef Interviews

Those of you who've been following this Blog for a while know that one of my favorite gluten-free friendly chains is Burtons Grill. Although we don't have a location right near us, we've been lucky enough to visit several of their locations when traveling to the northeast (Massachusetts and Connecticut) and recently had the good fortune of dining at their location in Charlottesville, Virginia. This month, Burtons Grill is celebrating their 10-year anniversary (and they unveiled a beautiful new website). What began 10 years ago as one location in Hingham, Massachusetts has now grown into a 10-location restaurant group. From now until May 10, all Burtons Grill locations will be offering vouchers, loyalty prizes, flash sales, and sampling events (check out their Special Events page for details). When you dine at any of their locations, you'll have a chance to "roll the dice" for instant prizes and giveaways. This anniversary falls right in the middle of Celiac Awareness Month, and that's another reason to celebrate. Burtons Grill has unveiled a new Spring and Summer Menu that includes new "gluten sensitive" items. For those of you who've dined at any Burtons Grill, you know they already have one of the most... Read more →

On GlutenFreeTravelSite and on this Gluten Free Travel Blog, we enjoy being able to profile restaurant chains -- both large and small -- that offer Gluten Free Menus…and that take care to keep their Celiac and gluten sensitive guests safe. Today, I want to introduce you to Landry's Seafood, with 20 locations across the following eight states: Florida, Louisiana, Alabama, South Carolina, Texas, Missouri, Colorado, and Nevada. Just looking at these mouth-watering photos makes me want to hop on a plane right now to dine in one of their restaurants! Landry's Seafood was founded in Lafayette, Louisiana in 1947 and continues its original mission of serving "Gulf Coast cuisine." For guests who are gluten free, this includes many different types of fresh fish that can be prepared various ways, under the "Today's Catch" section of the Gluten Free Menu. There's also oysters on the half-shell, jumbo grilled shrimp, lobster, snow crab, and scallops -- as well as several steak and chicken options for landlubbers. Chefs are also happy to try and tailor any daily specials to make them gluten free, upon request. So if you see something that appeals to you on the "regular" menu or daily specials…but it isn't... Read more →

As many of you may remember, several years ago California Pizza Kitchen (CPK) introduced gluten free pizzas, but they quickly pulled them off the menu due to concerns about cross contamination from the preparation of their regular pizzas in the same area. Fast forward three years, and California Pizza Kitchen is back with gluten free pizzas...this time having invested in thorough training by the Gluten Intolerance Group's Gluten Free Food Service and Management Training Program. Bob Moncrief, VP of Training and Development, explained, "We wanted a third party to verify our procedures so that gluten free diners could be comfortable." So now the systems are in place for CPK to offer a safe product for Celiac and gluten sensitive diners. And it's a good thing...apparently gluten free pizza has been the most requested item in CPK's restaurants nationwide. I was priviledged to speak with Brian Sullivan, the Senior Vice President of Culinary Development for California Pizza Kitchen, and also attend a lunch at CPK's "Innovation" test kitchen in Redondo Beach, California. What I learned about their new training and procedures impressed me, and I can attest to the fact that their pizza is wonderful. (Read on for details about how... Read more →

I'm a huge fan of Burton's Grill. You probably are, too, if you're gluten-free and live in the Northeast. Even though our family isn't lucky enough to have a Burton's Grill near where we live (in a suburb of Washington, DC), we always look forward to dining there when visiting relatives in the Boston area. Burton's Grill has locations in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and even a bit further away in Virginia Beach. Their Gluten-Free Lunch and Dinner Menus rank high on our family's list due to their wide range of great-tasting options -- and the fact that you don't feel you have to "go without" (as in ordering a burger without the bun or being a denied the choice of pasta as an entree). Burton's offers their gluten-free guests both gluten-free buns with their burgers and sandwiches as well as delicous gluten-free pasta (just take a look at this incredible gluten-free Lobster Pasta!) Another sumptuous gluten-free pasta choice: Chicken and Wild Mushroom Pasta -- medallions of chicken pan-seared with asparagus and cremini mushrooms in a sherry cream sauce over gluten-free pasta. How often do you see something like THAT on a Gluten-Free Menu?! My mouth is watering right now!... Read more →

If you're gluten-free, you've no doubt tried many of the well-known chain restaurants that were among the first to offer gluten-free menus...places like Outback, Legal Seafood, P.F. Chang's, and Uno Chicago Grill. But it's always exciting to discover a lesser-known regional restaurant chain that takes its gluten-free customers just as seriously -- and offers them an extensive gluten-free menu. Rockfish Seafood Grill is just that type of place, and if you live in -- or happen to be traveling to -- Texas or North Carolina, you'll have to make a point of stopping in to one of their 14 locations. You won't even need to ask for the Gluten Free Menu, since they bring it to each table, along with their "Body and Sole" (cute play on words!) health-conscious menu. As you'd expect, you'll find mostly seafood options on the menu. Want to start with a unique appetizer? Try the Mexican Shrimp Martini (shrimp with avocado, pico de gallo and salsa) or the Ahi Tuna Nachos -- both consistent crowd-pleasers. Another special choice is the Roasted Jalapeno Cream Soup, thickened with corn starch so it's totally gluten-free. Fish entrees can be either grilled or blackened and are served with your... Read more →

Chef Aaron Flores may not be an everyday name in many gluten-free circles, but he should be. And it's surprising you don't hear more about him. Aaron's work has helped blaze many trails in the gluten-free world, and his energy and enthusiasm for helping people following gluten-free diets is unmatched -- especially given that he himself does not suffer from Celiac Disease or gluten intolerance. Chef Aaron's crusade to help people on special diets began at least 10 years ago when he was approached by a little girl, while working as a sous chef at Disneyland's Grand Californian Hotel. She was on vacation with her grandmother and had run out of the "bag of food" she'd brought with her (we all know about that "bag of food," right?!). Her mom had told her that, if that happened, she should give her gluten-free restaurant card to a man with a big white that's how she ended up talking to Aaron. At the time, he didn't know anything about gluten-free food preparation, but after reading the explanation of safe gluten-free practices on the card, he was able to prepare her a simple meal of grilled chicken, a baked potato, and vegetables.... Read more →

Two years ago, while on a ski vacation in Utah, our family had the pleasure of dining at a restaurant that was new to us: Biaggi's Ristorante Italiano. This 21-location chain, which was founded by Corporate Chef Peter Schonman and two other partners 13 years ago in Bloomington, Illinois, has locations mostly in mid-sized towns in the Midwest and West. After several days of skiing in the Park City area, we decided to take a "day off" and head into Salt Lake City for some sightseeing and a stop at the Discovery Gateway Children's Museum in the Gateway Mall area. While there were numerous restaurants in this area -- and many with gluten-free menus -- it was Biaggi's that caught our eye. Our research beforehand revealed that they had an extensive gluten-free menu, including gluten-free pasta with plenty of gluten-free sauce choices. What more could hungry skiers ask for? Needless, to say, we had a wonderful dinner -- trying the gluten-free Pasta Di Mare, among other gluten-free and "regular menu" items. We left wishing Biaggi's had more of an East Coast presence, so we could add them to our list of "go to" restaurants back home! The meal still lingers... Read more →

Fortunately for people with Celiac Disease -- and others following gluten-free diets -- restaurants offering gluten-free menus keep growing in number. But there's a difference between a restaurant offering "stripped down," bland versions of their regular offerings (often resulting in nothing more than a grilled chicken breast, baked potato and steamed veggies) and restaurants that really invest the time in creating amazing offerings especially for their gluten-free guests. Picazzo's Organic Italian Kitchen is an example of the later. With locations throughout Arizona, Picazzo's sets the standard for gluten free dining with their extensive gluten-free menu that includes house-made gluten-free pizza. I had the opportunity to speak with Rick Freedman, the founder, owner, and Executive Chef of Picazzo's, earlier this week. His philosophy centers around offering his guests with the healthiest food possible. The result has been a new menu unveiled in the past year that incorporates more organic, local, and gluten free ingredients. Rick explained, "I'm all about eating healthy. And I want to be able to put bona fide healthy products out to our customers." Currently, 85% of Picazzo's menu is gluten-free. In fact, if you view their menu on their website, you'll notice they don't have a separate... Read more →