Gluten-Free Culinary Summit

October 5th, 2009 by Jean Duane

The fourth annual Gluten Free Summit West was held in Denver at the Johnson and Wales University this weekend. Saturday?s class line up included The Age of Gluten-Free: Pioneering New Frontiers in Cuisine with Artisan Ingredients; Planet of the Gluten-Free Grains: Enlightening Morning Cuisine; Breads of the Future: Paving New Paths in Today?s Gluten-Free Bread-making Arts; Cure for the Common Cookie; Survival of the Moist & Scrumptious: Imaginative Desserts; In The Name of Traditions: Sweet & Savory Brunch Delights & Afternoon Tea Temptations; A Culinary Journey to the Pacific Northwest and Wine Paring.

Gluten Free Culinary Summit 2009

Gluten Free Culinary Summit 2009

Highlights included James Gallo from the Brown Palace Hotel sharing his recipe for Almond Macaroons. (Stay tuned? if I can get his permission, I?ll post it separately.) The Brown Palace Hotel is a historic landmark in Denver and serves high tea from Noon to 4:00 PM every day and on Saturday, October 3, they began offering a GLUTEN-FREE tea. Thank you! James?s accounts of how the Brown Palace accommodates guest?s needs were stunning. That hotel earns its reputation for being one of the best in the world.
Raspberry Petite Fours

Raspberry Petite Fours

Another highlight was a presentation on bread making by Chadwick White, Certified Master Baker at Udi?s Hand-crafted Foods. He discussed the protein / starch composition of wheat and matched it to gluten-free flours. His chemistry-approach to cooking was fascinating and the bread he made was delicious. Unlike many of the off-the-shelf gluten-free breads, this one would not fall apart. It had a beautiful crumb and texture.
Only one of the chefs on Saturday live the gluten-free lifestyle, and another had a spouse with celiac disease. Most were professional chefs who usually cook with mainstream foods. Dairy intolerance which affects 30-40% of the American population and seems to go hand-in-hand with gluten-intolerance was an after-thought. The GFCF diet was not addressed. One chef said that almond milk could be substituted for heavy cream ? but the recipe wouldn?t be ?right?. [Note from a dairy-free veteran: Almond milk has almost zero fat content, so of course it wouldn?t be ?right? as a substitute for heavy cream. A better idea would have been to suggest a nut cream (1 to 1 ratio of water and raw nuts, sweetened with maple syrup and a teeny bit of salt). Now that would be ?right?, because the fat content is more like that of heavy cream.]
It was a wee-bit frustrating that nearly every dish demonstrated contained dairy. We were encouraged all day by the chefs to ask restaurants to accommodate our dietary needs. I asked for a plate without the dairy-containing foods, and was told they couldn?t accommodate my request. So there were many items during the tasting-day that were off-limits to me ? often because the sauce or icing from one dish that contained dairy cross-contaminated the thing on the plate I could have sampled. Ingredients weren?t posted at the lunch buffet and the lunch-staff couldn?t say what foods didn?t contain dairy so the only ?safe? gluten-free, dairy-free food was the leaf salad. The welcome email said they would accommodate other food sensitivities. Maybe next time they?ll do better.
The Fourth Annual 2009 Gluten-Free Summit West was a good learning experience. The small venue, demonstrations and the personalities of the presenters made it entertaining. Attendees were lively and willing to share a lot of insight. It was a good day. ?Alternative Cook, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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