I recently had a Twitter conversation between @Block1912, @macgyyver, and @taybad. It started off with @taybad seeking out gluten free beer in Edmonton, and turned into a discussion with Block1912 looking to add gluten free menu items. So that brought up the question, what advise do you give a restaurant or cafe that wants to add gluten free menu items?
I couple of @macgyyver tweets explained it best. Gluten free shouldn't mean just no sauce, it gluten free also shouldn't mean just salad. Amanda often says, that it is nice to have a gluten free menu, but often menu items that are naturally gluten free are left off the menu, making her second guess ordering the item. When it comes down to it, its a matter of knowing what the ingredients are, weather it is just a roasted chicken or chicken fingers. What is in it? Is it gluten free as-is? Can we modify the item to be gluten free without taking away from it. Once some of these questions are answered, then you can mark it as gluten free. Celiac's just don't want gluten free breaded items, they want to be sure they can have a roasted chicken with a gluten free sauce too.
If you have sandwiches, do you have a gluten free bread alternative? Alternative gluten free pasta and pizza crusts? Do you have a dedicated fryer for gluten free items to avoided cross contamination with deep fried breaded items? If you have soups, what do you use as a thickener? If it is flour, can you use something else?
We were recently on a Princess Cruise, and they would give Amanda the same sauce, they would just give it with no thickener to her (made a special batch). She liked it, she was getting what everyone else was getting, instead of "You can have the chicken but no sauce", because lets be honest, who wants no sauce?
Is your restaurant too busy to avoid cross contamination? Make some compromises to accommodate, it's worth it. Press'd The Sandwich Company offers gluten free sandwiches now. Which is great. There Jasper location you can order anything off the menu which is even better, but they had to compromise on their City Centre location which gets slammed at lunch time. They were worried about not being able to keep the work stations clean and uncontaminated. They decided for the City Centre location to have a feature sandwich of the day. So they only have to worry about prepping one type of sandwich for that location. I think everyone appreciates the effort.
Now onto desserts. Which is hard to come by, although we are seeing a few more places offering something besides a bowl of fruit or ice cream. But there is certainly limited choices in pastries. The only pastry chef I can think of that does gluten free is the owner of La Crema in St. Alberta. He sells for re-sale too. You can find his stuff in a couple of the gluten free stores. Kinnikinnick obviously also has great gluten free bakery items at their store. I heard Ed's Gluten Free store is opening up their own bakery inside as well.