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Living Gluten-Free

Chef Omer Taffet, owner of Taffets Bakery & Store, demonstrates how to make quinoa multi-grain dinner rolls in Sherrow’s gluten-free cooking and baking class. Photo by Danielle Matthews.

Did you know that an estimated 25 million Americans are living gluten-free? A gluten-free diet excludes foods containing gluten, a protein complex found in grains such as wheat, barley and rye. While millions of people suffer from celiac disease, non-celiac gluten intolerance or wheat allergies, many others have adopted a gluten-free way of life for a variety of other health-related reasons.

In honor of National Celiac Awareness Month this May, we spoke with Genevieve Sherrow to find out more about why going gluten-free is gaining popularity. Sherrow is an adjunct faculty member in Drexel’s Goodwin College of Professional Studies who teaches a class on gluten-free cooking and baking. She is also the author of Gluten-free Warrior, a therapeutic, whole foods cookbook. Read the Q+A here.

Drexel’s culinary program began offering gluten-free cooking and baking courses this past January to ensure that students are well-prepared to meet the needs of gluten-free consumers. Drexel currently has one of the only traditional culinary programs in the United States that offers gluten-free cooking education.

Gluten-free lemon poppyseed tea loaves made by students in Sherrow’s class. Photo by Brandon Zeller.

According to Drexel professor Chef Edward Bottone, these classes address a contemporary issue in the culinary market.

“Gluten avoidance has become a trend with many who have no sensitivity to gluten but adopt a gluten-free or gluten-limited diet for a perceived health benefit,” said Bottone. “Gluten-free cooking and baking have become increasingly less complicated in the past few years, thanks to the attention and media awareness afforded to gluten sensitivity and celiac disease.”

Bottone’s “A la Carte” course – in which students learn every aspect of kitchen and dining room management from menu creation to cooking, sanitation, marketing and customer service – will be offering gluten-free options on its May 30 lunch menu in the Academic Bistro (33rd and Arch Streets).  

“In my ‘A la Carte’ class, students rotate through every position in the kitchen and dining room,” Bottone said. “By happy coincidence, Alexxa Grattan, a senior and also a celiac patient, will be chef on the 30th. It is her menu entirely. She recently offered her senior design dinner menu that was entirely gluten-free and transportingly superb.”

On May 30, the menu will offer both standard and gluten-free options.

For the first course, diners will choose from a gluten-free Cape Cod Chopped Salad with baby arugula, apples, walnuts, bacon and aged cheddar; gluten-free roasted pears filled with blue cheese, walnuts and dried cranberries over arugula; or a vegetarian panzanella made of rustic country bread and assorted vegetables with a red wine vinaigrette.

Gluten-free chocolate chip walnut cookies made by students in Sherrow’s class. Photo by Brandon Zeller.

The main course options include grilled cheese and short rib sandwiches with pickled, caramelized onions and arugula, served with cornmeal onion rings; a tomato and goat cheese tart served with tossed arugula; and gluten-free grilled porgy with tangerine and marjoram.

For dessert, diners will choose from gluten-free options including a lemon lavender champagne sorbet and a contemporary carrot cake.

Bottone encourages everyone to come out to the Academic Bistro for lunch on May 30, even if they aren’t living gluten-free. “It will delight in every way and is a terrific value. You won’t even miss the gluten!”

Reservations can be made through Lunch seating begins at noon and is $10 per person.

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