Step 1: Receive an email from one of my previous favorite restaurants about gluten-free bruschetta.
This restaurant was my jam – I went here for everything: dates, birthdays, happy hour, etc. The waiters used to know me. I used to get their bruschetta more than any other item at restaurants. And then I caught celiac (my gene actually turned on after one fateful night at this very restaurant). Needless to say, this restaurant holds a special place in my heart. If they had something I could eat, I’d be so excited. However, years ago I was informed by a server that their kitchen was far too small to accommodate someone with celiac disease and that I shouldn’t even order a salad because there was bread everywhere. Sure enough, when I opened up my wine menu, crumbs fell out. I shit you not. I haven’t gone back and – le sigh. Oh well, there are plenty of bread-focused restaurant I can’t eat at. Until now. Or should I say…until now?
Step 2: Receive a handful of emails from friends alerting me about bruschetta.
Because this cafe is so popular in our area (yes, I miss it dearly and my friends know it), I received two emails alerting me of the new bread. Apparently they think because I can’t eat at my old favorite restaurant, I unsubscribed from their emails. Nope, I’m a masochist apparently. I still get their birthday emails – even though I haven’t had my birthday there for years. It pains me to have to email back and tell them that I’m still investigating how this bread is prepared, but I doubt I’ll be able to gather here with friends for happy hour again unfortunately.
Step 3: Reach out to Postino via social media and email to ask how gluten-free their gluten-free bruschetta really is. OYE. I asked about 1) how they toast/prepare 2) if separate pre 3) if separate ingredients used 4) if the bruschetta is placed on a wooden board used for both gluten-free and gluten-free bread.
Step 4: Disappointment.
#1: EMAIL TO ME FROM PR TEAM
Thanks for reaching out to us! We always love hearing from our guests. In regards to the questions you asked: yes, all of our bruschetta is prepared in the same kitchen and uses the same equipment (for both regular and gluten free breads). We are of course always happy to put our gluten free bruschetta on a ceramic plate upon request – but it is still produced in the same kitchen. We do take health concerns seriously, and if the gluten allergy is severe, it is probably best for that individual to not partake in these food items.
Have a great day!
#2: EMAIL TO THEM
I’m disappointed to hear that. With “gluten free” being a trend, it hurts those who really need to eat gluten-free safely from false advertisements like this. I would make sure that your team knows to put asterisks or footnotes that although the bread might be gluten-free the kitchen and preparation is not gluten-free and therefore not safe for anyone with a true issue to gluten. Those newbies to celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity are tricked by those words and may not ask how it’s prepared, assuming it’s safe. For liability purposes, you might want to inform the servers that as well. If you’re going to claim gluten-free, it should fit the FDA’s less than 20 ppm requirement, and therefore should be prepared as safely as possible, on separate equipment with separate ingredients and not served on any porous surfaces. I’m more than happy to talk to your team about it, but labeling something GF without it being safe for those that need gluten-free food can be a very fine line in food service. Please let me know how you plan on approaching this in your restaurant.
#3: THEN THIS HAPPENED. I received a PR/marketing outreach on Celiac and the Beast. I’m assuming they just googled Celiac or Gluten-Free Arizona or Phoenix to find me. Boy, they should have been prepared emailing a gluten-free blogger about an item they didn’t know how to prepare properly.
Hi,The best thing since sliced bread- gluten free bruschetta! Postino, Phoenix’s original WineCafe, is now offering gluten free bruschetta for all of its bruschetta options. Postino worked in partnership with a local Phoenix bakery to create their own gluten free loaves of bread. Available at all three Postino locations, the gluten free bruschetta will feature the same delicious taste and flavors that keep customers coming back. Postino features 12 varieties of bruschetta including brie and apples with fig spread, white bean with tomato, and salami with pesto.The Valley’s original local WineCafe, Postino began 10 years ago with a dream and some homegrown determination. Postino features unique, approachable wines; simple, delicious food prepared with local ingredients; and a warm, friendly culture that brings everyone together. Today, Postino continues this tradition with three unique locations, each set in historically relevant buildings integral to the neighborhoods that surround.
If you have any questions, please let me know.
#4) EMAIL TO THE MARKETING FIRM
I’m actually in the process of writing a blog post about it now. However, it is NOT positive. Here’s the information that I sent and received from Upward Projects. If you have any different information or additional information before I write my blog post warning celiacs and gluten-free medical diets to not eat at Postino’s, please let me know. (attach prior emails)
#5) EMAIL FROM ORIGINAL PR FIRM (see #1)
Thank you for your thorough response. As you are probably aware, our kitchens are very small for the volume that we do and we are simply unable to dedicate specific areas/tools to 100% Gluten Free production. We do feel that offering the Gluten Free bread as an option (it is made in a Gluten Free facility) to the best of our abilities is the best we can do at this point. We SO appreciate your point and will make sure to notate that while the bread is gluten free, our facility is not. We can see how this would be important to know to people who have Celiac’s Disease.
#6 RECEIVE SIMILAR REPLIES VIA SOCIAL MEDIA
Postino WineCafe wrote: “As you are probably aware, our kitchens are very small for the volume that we do and we are simply unable to dedicate specific areas/tools to 100% Gluten Free production. We do feel that offering the Gluten Free bread as an option (it is made in a Gluten Free facility) to the best of our abilities is the best we can do at this point. And in order to avoid any cross contamination we are not serving the bruschetta’s on the same boards. We SO appreciate your point and will make sure to notate that while the bread is gluten free, our facility is not. We can see how this would be important to know to people who have Celiac’s Disease.”
Jesus Christ. I told them everything they had to do to make it safe for celiacs – for free. But, instead, they’re just going with the whole “our facility is not GF,” line. While I totally understand that they are just covering their asses, and I totally understand that their kitchen probably couldn’t accomodate what we would need to be safe (although honestly, you could if you wanted to), it’s still frustrating. WHY? Because it is marketing “gluten free.” But it’s prepared hap-hazard and not in the way that it should be if you’re going to call it gluten free, even if it’s the best we can do. The BEST you can do is offer it properly, talk to the chefs and servers about how to prepare it the way to keep everyone safe. So I ask you – who is this bread really for? When your old #1 can’t eat at your restaurant even though you hilariously sought me out for your PR launch – who can? While I might just cry into a glass of wine at my old favorite restaurant, I would have to go into the kitchen and walk the chef through how to prepare my food if I ever order this bruschetta.
I know I’m particularly sensitive to this restaurant because it’s one of my favorites. I just want restaurants who attempt to go gluten-free or offer gluten-free items to try harder. To make it so the people who actually need a gluten-free diet can actually eat there.