With May being National Celiac Awareness Month, the time couldn't be better to highlight a new gluten free cookbook on the market from a Chicagoan with deep roots to the city, Carlyn Berghoff, CEO of Berghoff Catering and Restaurant Group.
I grew up dining at the iconic Berghoff restaurant and have fond memories of the pot roast, homemade rye bread, mashed potatoes, and creamed spinach. It was a special treat following a visit to one of Chicago's great museums or a ballet performance. So, I was happy to hear when Berghoff Cafe started offering a gluten free menu, including such traditional German favorites as their potato salad, famed mashed potatoes, and flourless chocolate cake.
I had the opportunity to talk with Carlyn last summer while she was in the design stage of her newly released gluten free cookbook for teens, "Cooking for Your Gluten-Free Teen: Every Day Foods the Whole Family will Love". This is Carlyn's third cookbook and truly is a labor of love. Carlyn's middle daughter, Sarah, has celiac disease, so the gluten free recipes in the cookbook are a collaborative effort of easy to prepare and appetizing meals for teens on the go.
Carlyn and I talked about the certified gluten free menu at Berghoff, the challenges of having a gluten free household, and her journey of writing this latest cookbook.
Gladly Gluten Free: When did you discover that your daughter had celiac disease?
Carlyn: It took about six months for Sarah's diagnosis, but she has has been gluten free and casein free for over two years. If she encounters cross-contamination with gluten, she'll be sick for 3-4 days. My daughter and I ordered take-out a while back from a local restaurant and the GF pasta she ordered ended up having a regular fettucine noodle mixed in it.
GGF: How did you introduce gluten free cooking and gluten free options on your cafe menu?
Carlyn: We trained our hourly employees, our managers, leaders and culinary staff in the preparation of gluten free foods. The NFCA has an online class as well to help educate employees. We have our managers see the gluten free order through start to finish. If one of our wait staff doesn't know the answer to a customer's question regarding gluten, we train them to get the manager. We have specific items on the menu that are labeled "Gluten Free" and ensure it is a safe place to eat. The Berghoff Cafe is certified gluten free by the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness. We don't offer dishes that aren't safe.
GGF: How do you handle concerns of cross-contamination in your own kitchen?
Carlyn: Our kitchen at home is completely gluten free. It takes so much effort to keep things that contain gluten separate from gluten free items, separate containers, cleaning things thoroughly, and the anxiety over the possibility of contaminated surfaces and cleaning items (sponges, dish towels).
GGF: What are the most dramatic changes you experienced in the way you cook?
Carlyn: It is a 3-store situation to get my shopping done, visiting stores like Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, and my local grocery store in order to get what I need. I usually purchase a dozen of everything, so I have my pantry stocked. I will get as much fresh produce as I can from the local farmer's market too.
GGF: What can we look for in your new cookbook? Will some of the traditional Berghoff favorites be in the book?
Carlyn: The cookbook has been a very big project, and I've learned a ton along the way. We conducted a survey with celiac patients to ask what were the top foods they missed the most. We wanted to incorporate those into the cookbook. We tried various products and incorporated those we liked into the recipes. I worked in tandem with a writer and recipe testers throughout the whole process, to ensure our recipes were easy to read and simple to follow. There is everything from pizza and cake recipes to snacks and grab-n-go recipes geared for teens. But, they are also a few traditional Berghoff items in the cookbook, such as gluten free rye bread and the famous creamed spinach.
To learn more about Carlyn's new cookbook and living gluten free, check out her interview in the Chicago Tribune's Food & Dining section, or visit Carlyn's two blogs on the Berghoff website, Carlyn's corner and her new addition, Gluten Free Family Food.
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