4. Dedicate equipment to be used for gluten-free menu items and keep the kitchen sanitized at all times.
During food preparation, separation and cleanliness are key. It is important to keep the kitchen spotless, and always put on new, clean foodservice gloves over clean hands before handling gluten-free foods, no matter the job function in the restaurant. At Burger 21, managers place a handful of gloves on a gluten-free tray to make it easy for everyone to change gloves when preparing the food down the line.
It is vital to ensure that everyone on the line is aware that an order needs to be made gluten-free. At Burger 21, gluten-free stickers are used to let guests know that staff members are educated about gluten intolerance and took extra steps when preparing those meals.
In addition to having gloves con-venient, dedicated equipment for preparing only gluten-free foods is crucial. Make sure to have fryers and equipment (ovens, warmers, etc.) labeled for gluten-free cooking only.
A gluten-free kit including sanitized tongs, spatulas, grill brushes, sauté pans, a cutting board, etc. is also an easy way to make sure that sanitized tools are ready for use when a guest orders a gluten-free menu item. It takes very little time to put together a kit, so when a gluten-free order comes down the line, staff can grab a kit to make preparation a breeze. Sanitize the kits after each use.
At Burger 21 and GrillSmith restaurants, staff use green-handled cooking and prep utensils for all gluten-free orders. Employees also make sure that gluten-free orders are brought to tables on separate trays with no other orders placed on those trays.
The key to ensuring the kitchen is always properly sanitized is keeping it clean overall and at all times. Cleaning multiple times throughout each day and making sure all equipment is sanitized after each use will make the process flow smoothly. The biggest challenges will be monitoring staff and checking that they consistently follow safety procedures.
5. Educate and train staff.
After sanitation procedures have been ironed out, training staff on the dangers of gluten contamination and what they need to do while preparing gluten-free offerings is paramount. Providing proper gluten-free training materials is a great way to gain support. Get staff to buy into the program. If they don’t share your passion, it will be difficult to implement a successful gluten-free menu.
At Burger 21, for example, the Front Burner Brands training team trained all managers on gluten, gluten sensitivity and celiac disease, and these managers then conducted training with all Burger 21 team members. All new team members going forward receive the same training. The company also assigns a manager or key team member to oversee any gluten-free orders all the way down the line and trains new team members as necessary during each shift.
Knowledge is everything. Often, people don’t know where food comes from or how it is prepared. Simple, incorrect statements meant to be helpful can quickly show how little a team member really knows and erode guest confidence. Provide staff with charts that spell out which items are never gluten-free and which can be made gluten-free with adjustments.
Training materials that stress team member responsibilities during gluten-free food preparation will prove helpful for both the guest and team members. By providing proper materials to staff, you increase awareness and good service, resulting in grateful patrons.