BY JEANETTE HURT | PHOTOGRAPHY BY DAN BISHOP
But from 2009 until 2012, the mention of gluten-free on restaurant menus increased a whopping 275 percent, according to global marketing researcher Mintel. The National Restaurant Association listed gluten-free as No. 8 in its top 10 trends in 2013. Locally, a number of restaurants not only take gluten-free requests — and know how to properly execute them in the kitchen to prevent contamination — but some go over and beyond what sensitive diners expect.
Five years ago, two of chef Tomas Maglio White’s customers asked him if he could make them some gluten-free pasta. “The pasta (these two doctors) brought with them turned out both raw and mushy; I didn’t even know that I couldn’t cook it in the same water I cooked regular pasta,” White recalls.
But that initial request inspired White to do research on what Celiac Disease was and what gluten-free cooking entailed. For two years he perfected gluten-free recipes for pasta, bread and pizza dough until he was satisfied they tasted as good as his regular, all-from-scratch cooking.
Today, Mia Famiglia is the only certified celiac kitchen in Wisconsin, and White is one of only two chefs (chef Cat Cora of “Iron Chef America” is the other) who received an award from the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness. The entire menu, except for calzones, can be made gluten-free, and White keeps all of his gluten-free flours, pasta equipment and fryer separate from his regular kitchen. His employees also receive special training to prevent contamination. He makes ravioli, tiramisu and gnocchi from scratch — and gluten-free. “I’m working on a gluten-free cannoli,” White says.