Foodservice operators are sensitive to the needs of customers who have food allergies, including many who cannot eat gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, rye and possibly oats. The good news for such patrons is that they no longer have to forego delicious, on-trend pasta dishes, thanks to advances in gluten-free pasta.

Research shows that as many as 30 percent of adult consumers wish to cut down or eliminate gluten in their diets due to celiac disease, wheat allergies and wheat intolerance.1 The number of consumers ordering food described as gluten- or wheat-free is more than double what it was four years ago, accounting for more than 200 million restaurant visits during the past year.2

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Thus, it’s no surprise that more and more gluten-free dishes are appearing on menus. In fact, gluten-free cuisine is the fifth hottest trend in the National Restaurant Association’s What’s Hot 2014 Culinary Forecast. Having gluten-free menu offerings has become the rule for restaurants, hotels and noncommercial operations.

At the 516-room Grand Hyatt Denver hotel, Executive Chef John Treusein vouches for the growing attention paid to customers with food allergies and sensitivities.

“The industry in general and Hyatt in particular, seeks opportunities to really thrill the folks who have special dietary needs, instead of just accommodating them in the least inconvenient way,” says Treusein. “We work to identify options for them in all of our menus, both in banquets and in the restaurants.”

In banquets, Treusein has seen rising requests for gluten-free options. In fact, he has prepared entirely gluten-free dinners for more than 500 guests. Finding a brand of gluten-free pasta that is flavorful and practical for large functions has been a real boon for the hotel.

“We really hadn’t had any great success [with gluten-free pasta] until we came across the Barilla product,” says Treusein. “It performs closest to regular pasta in the cooking and service aspect. A lot of the other versions we have tried go from being undercooked to way overcooked so quickly that they are almost impossible to serve. The great thing about Barilla Gluten Free is that we can treat it almost exactly the way we treat semolina pasta or whole wheat pasta.”

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In fact, to meet the call for gluten-free pasta, Treusein is thinking of including a Barilla Gluten Free pasta dish as one of the standard trio of pastas that chefs prepare at banquet action stations.

What makes Barilla Gluten Free pasta different? The key is the special combination of white and yellow corn and rice, which makes it naturally gluten-free while providing the appearance, flavor and texture of regular pasta. It is available in Spaghetti, Penne, Rotini and Elbows.

“In the past, chefs haven’t had a delicious, quality gluten-free pasta,” explains Barilla America Executive Chef Lorenzo Boni. “Our gluten-free pasta was four years in the making. We wanted it to be perfect.”

Thanks to Barilla Gluten Free pasta, consumers no longer have to give up pasta or settle for pasta of substandard quality, texture and taste. Here are a few tips and techniques for cooking with Barilla Gluten Free pasta that will delight your customers and have them coming back for more.

  • Agitate the pasta during the first one to two minutes of cooking to achieve balanced distribution and avoid clumping.
  • Add your sauce immediately after draining your gluten-free pasta. Too much time in the skillet can lead to over-thickening of the sauce.
  • Serve pasta salads at room temperature to maintain optimal texture.
  • Double-cook gluten-free pasta as you would traditional pasta, just reheat and serve it quickly.
  • Keep your gluten-free pasta dishes separate from other foods in your kitchen to avoid cross-contamination.

1Mintel, 2013             
2 NPD, 2013