Question #1: “Do you have a gluten free menu?”
This will tell you a lot about a restaurant, if they have a gluten free menu or gluten free symbols on the regular menu, you are off to a good start. However, do not assume that your server knows anything about how the items from the gluten free menu are prepared or that the kitchen does not cross contaminate. Make sure that your server puts a “Gluten Allergy” alert on your order.. (The word gluten can be substituted for dairy, corn, soy etc.)
If the server says “Well i’m not sure..”
Question #2: “Do you mind finding me someone that does know?!”
Do not feel guilty or rude if you have to ask your server to either find a manager or go talk to the chef. You are paying to dine out, and are wanting the full experience. You are paying for service, and it is their job to server you! (For the sake of the next person after you with food sensitivities, please tip well!)
Question #3: “Where are your (example: corn tortillas) stored in relation to the flour tortillas?”
This is the next question to ask your server. Again, if your server does not know, ask for them to get a manager or the chef. If the corn tortillas, GF pizza dough, GF bread, etc. is not stored in a freezer or separate pantry, your food will most likely be contaminated. (I can’t help but laugh when local health food stores or coffee shops sell “paleo” or “gluten free” treats, yet keep them in the same case as the rest of the pastries!)
Question #4: “Where are the (example: corn tortillas) cooked in relation to the other food?”
Great, they store their corn tortillas, GF pizza dough, GF bread, etc. in a separate location, but where do they cook it?! Is your food being cooked on the same grill or griddle next to the non GF products?! I will say it a third time, if your server does not know, do not feel bad about asking them to either find out, or find someone that does know. Ask them to cook your food (including steak, chicken, potatoes etc.) in a clean pan instead of on the grill or griddle. If you are ordering something that is being baked, ask them to line the baking sheet with tin foil or parchment paper.
Question #5: “Where are the toppings for the gluten free pizza stored in relation to the toppings for the non-gluten free pizza?”
After you have found out that they do indeed have GF pizza, they store the dough in the freezer and they are able to cook the pizza on a clean surface. There is one more question we must ask! Unfortunately, many pizza joints that have GF dough, do not have separate toppings. If the kid behind the counter making pizzas, rolls out the non-gluten free dough, slathers it with red sauce and then dips his hands into the cheese, bell peppers, mushrooms, olives, etc. Those containers are now contaminated! Make sure they have separate containers if they do not have a separate kitchen to prepare in. Amici’s East Coast Pizzeria, prepares their gluten free pizza in the freezer, with separate toppings and they wear new gloves.
Question #6: “Are hands washed or gloves changed when preparing gluten free food?”
Chipotle is a great example, the only non-GMO “fast food” restaurant around. What is the first thing they ask you?? Would you like a burrito or burrito bowl?! Those same gloved hands that are making your innocent burrito bowl just finished starting someone else’s burrito on a flour tortilla! Simply inform them that you have a gluten allergy and you would like for them to change their gloves! (Make sure they serve you all the way to the register, if they pass you off to someone at the end who grabs a whole handful of lettuce… well, we are back to square one!) With that being said, if you do have celiac disease (like myself) be mindful of what has a serving utensil and what does not!
**Please remember my disclaimer, that I am not a doctor, or medical professional. My posts are not to be interpreted as medical advice and you should not rely on or follow techniques on this site without consulting a medical professional. Also, the opinions, views, and experiences expressed here are entirely my own and provided for informational purposes only. They are not a substitute for advice from your doctor or health care professional.