1. Find a restaurant that can accommodate gluten free meals. Many restaurants are very familiar with gluten free meals or have a gluten free menu. If you are new to gluten free dining, stick to a restaurant where you don’t have to explain yourself. There is a list of gluten free restaurants at www.glutenfreerestaurants.org
2. Do your homework ahead of time. Call ahead and speak with the chef and ask if the restaurant can accommodate your needs. Also, review the menu online and have an idea before you arrive at the restaurant about what is safe to eat.
3. Purchase or download a gluten free dining card. Cards can be purchased on many websites. These cards can be given to restaurant staff to explain about the gluten free diet. They even have the cards written in multiple languages for ethnic dining experiences and travel.
4. Speak to the proper personnel. When you go to place your order, ask to speak to the manager or chef. They are the two people that are ultimately responsible for your safety. Either one should be able to tell you about the menu and your gluten free options.
5. Call ahead and ask if you can bring pasta or bread with you to the restaurant. Many restaurants will allow you to bring in bread or pasta is they do not have it available. The proper practice is to call ahead and ask and to not bring in anything in an opened package. If the restaurant is making pasta for you, make sure they are using clean pasta water, a clean pot and a non-contaminated colander to drain the pasta.
6. Thank the restaurant and spread the word about your dining experience. If you had a good dining experience, make sure to thank the chef and manager and let others in the gluten free community know about your positive experience.
Author Information: Jen Cafferty, Chicago, IL
Jen Cafferty, Founder, The Gluten Free Cooking Expo
Websites: www.gfreelife.com, www.glutenfreeclasses.com