Welcome Emily: NFCA’s Newest Team Member & Culinary Whiz
[Emily began working with the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) in March 2011, and assists with NFCA’s GREAT Kitchens gluten-free foodservice training program. She became interested in the gluten-free diet in 2010 through a culinary school project. Emily received her BA from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in Art History and Criticism in 2005, and is now working towards a Culinary Arts degree. She enjoys cooking, working out, reading and creating recipes for alternative diets.]
My Introduction to the GREAT Big Gluten-Free World
Hello celiac and gluten-free friends! My name is Emily Hansen, NFCA’s new intern.
I became interested in alternative diets (specifically vegan, gluten-free, raw foods, diabetic and, recently, kosher) in mid-2010 during some extracurricular research for culinary school. At that point, I was midway through the program and realized that our classes gave us merely a passing overview of this important segment of the foodservice market, an unfortunate result of cramming all the basics into a 2-year program. So, I set out to learn as much as I could on my own.
In the fall of 2010, I was enrolled in a class that required each student to put on a high-end, 5- to 7-course meal in a restaurant setting for paying customers. I was already set on creating a delicious menu of healthy low calorie, low sodium foods, when my instructor mentioned that he wished someone would do a gluten-free meal.
I scanned my recipes and realized that most of my menu choices already were gluten-free, and those that weren’t could easily be modified without losing taste or nutritional qualities. I accepted the challenge!
My teacher introduced me to NFCA’s Beckee Moreland, whom he had worked with before, and suggested I reach out to her in preparation for the project. A gluten-free expert with a nationally recognized organization, Beckee offered to look over my menu and advise me when needed. I couldn’t have been more thrilled!
Here was my Gluten-Free Menu:
Raw Oysters on the Half Shell
Served with a tangy Mignonette sauce.
Butternut Squash Soup
A chilled blend of seasonal butternut squash and ginger.
Gluten-Free Multi-Grain Bread
Soft, moist bread made from a variety of wholesome grains.
Jicama and Bell Pepper Salad
A crisp mixture of jicama, smoked corn, and red, yellow and green bell peppers tossed with peppercorn vinaigrette.
A refreshing blend of cucumber and champagne vinegar.
Loin of Lamb with Blood Orange Sauce
Succulent lamb loin drizzled in a savory-sweet blood orange sauce served atop a bed of wild rice with hazelnut. Accompanied by steamed garlic spinach.
Molten Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
Warm, rich chocolate cake paired with cool, smooth vanilla bean ice cream.
My dinner went spectacularly! The food was great and the attendance phenomenal. I was proud that so many members of the celiac community came and enjoyed our efforts.
I believe with help of Beckee, my amazing classmates and incredible instructor, we proved to our diners that healthy, gluten-free food can taste as wonderful, or even more so, than run-of-the-mill fare.