Today has been a whirlwind day of emotion for gluten free folks after reading a comment from Restaurant Alma chef, Bryan Morcom in the Pioneer Press.
This afternoon, after a lengthy conversation I had with Alex Roberts, owner and executive chef of Restaurant Alma, I was able to update my original post with his side of the story, which I believe is an important thing to do. He continues receiving emails from frustrated gluten free eaters who may not have heard Restaurant Alma’s side of the story yet. So he shared an official statement (separate from our original conversation) and he asked if I would post it — here it is..unedited.
“This is Alex Roberts, owner and executive chef of Restaurant Alma. I would like to start by saying that the quote in the paper is not representative of our restaurant’s view or practice. My chef Bryan was poorly quoted and misrepresented by the words in print today.
In reality, our restaurant has made a point of offering safe gluten free meals for years. We make all our food from scratch, changed dozens of recipes, eliminated all forms of gluten other than bread flour from our pantry and have every possible system in place to prevent cross-contamination. We are acutely aware of the importance of respecting people’s dietary needs and dangers of not doing so. Whether the need is Gluten free, Onion/Garlic free, Citrus free, Soy free or other we are able to serve safe and delicious meals to every customer every day.
I too was disturbed by the impression the quote made and spoke with Bryan moments after I read the article. He is overcome with frustration and emotion because his life revolves around providing safe, delicious and special meals for everyone who comes in the door at Alma. Cooking has been his passion and occupation for 50+ hours a week for over 10 years! He told me he clearly told the writer that while he completely respects all customer’s dietary needs, he was frustrated by diners that demand a gluten free meal and later in the meal order a dessert or eat bread containing gluten. This happens frequently and while it does not obscure our understanding of a very serious issue and possibly fatal disease, the casual or off/on practice of gluten free eating is confusing and frustrating to some. My guess is that some people are using the term gluten free when ordering to help them execute a carbohydrate restrictive diet when eating out. It’s an unfortunate practice.
In short, it was a mistake to comment or write about such a serious subject in a brief format. Too often a partial quote makes a far different impression than an entire conversation and I know this is the case here.
I truly regret the words in print offended or made you feel unwelcome. I can assure you that myself, Bryan and every single member of my staff is totally committed to providing safe meals for every diner that comes in the door and we welcome the Gluten Free dining community… as we always have. In this case, our actions of 12.5 years as a restaurant will have to speak louder that the few words in print today.”