California Pizza Kitchen (CPK) Offers GF Menu Items Part 2

On June 29th I posted some potentially good news: California Pizza Kitchen (CPK) Offers GF Menu Items.  There was a bit of mixed reviews regarding this post, which is completely understandable.  You never truly know if your meal will be 100% gluten-free (and free of any cross-contamination) when you are eating out in a non-designated gluten-free restaurant.  Many restaurants take extra precautions when preparing gluten-free menu items and will train their staff regarding the gluten-free diet and cross-contamination.

I will admit at first I was a bit skeptical about trying the new pizza but I asked a few other bloggers and readers who had tried the new pizza and they all said it was delicious and didn’t have any glutened symptoms.  When we went to Boston a few weeks ago with our dear friends Warren and Joyce we found a CPK and decided to give it a go (when you sign up to receive their e-mails you get a $5.00 coupon!).

Out of the four of us I am the only one with celiac disease so I ordered off of their Gluten-Free Menu! (which is actually just the real menu with “gf” notations next to the items that are gluten-free”). I also asked to speak with a manager about the process of the chefs making the pizza and serving it.  She did assure me that they use a “foil boat” to cook the pizza on, use a separate paddle, separate knife, and serve it right away to avoid any confusion.

I decided to go with what they are known best for – The Original BBQ Chicken Pizza (Invented here in 1985. BBQ sauce, smoked Gouda, Mozzarella, BBQ chicken, red onions and cilantro).  This was always one of my favorite pizzas before I went gluten-free and it was as delicious as ever.  The flavor combination may seem a bit odd when you are just reading about it but the sweetness of the BBQ sauce goes so well with the smoked Gouda and red onions.  Best part of all? I didn’t get sick from eating it!! It was so nice to eat pizza out at a restaurant. Sadly though the closest CPK to us is Boston so we won’t be going there very often.

Again, this is obviously a personal judgement call but I can say that I ate there with absolutely no problems and it was delicious, the staff was very friendly, helpful, and well-informed.  A nice change from my last visit to a CPK.  Again, please come back and let me know if you have tried CPK’s new gluten-free options and what you thought about it.

California Pizza Kitchen (CPK) Offers GF Menu Items

Hello All,

I wanted to share with you a press release that I received today about California Pizza Kitchen:

Hi!

The wait is over! Today California Pizza Kitchen (CPK) has launched gluten free pizza crust, making 29 of their original pizzas available gluten free.

CPK has taken notice of the increased demand with more than 3 million Americans affected by Celiac Disease and created a specialty menu with various gluten free items. Among the 29 different gluten free pizzas available is America’s favorite, The Original BBQ Chicken pizza, the Pear & Gorgonzola pizza and the Wild Mushroom pizza. CPK also offers other gluten free appetizers, soups, salads, specialties, kids items and desserts to choose from on their current menu.

CPK is thrilled to offer those that require gluten free items a menu with the same delicious offering that they’ve always had, now gluten free.

I also saw this on their website:

“*Not available gluten-free: Thai Chicken and Roasted Artichoke and Spinach”

Here is a PDF version of their new Gluten-Free Menu!!

This is really exciting news because this means that Gluten Free awareness has gone mainstream, however please keep on reading.

UPDATE 6/30/11: A reader just pointed this disclaimer out to me at the bottom of their menu – so to sum this up, it is very exciting that they are offering gluten-free options, however it seems like an “eat at your own risk” type situation as with many restaurants be very careful!!

“Gluten-Free” designations are based on information provided by our ingredient suppliers. Warning: Ingredients or production methods used by our suppliers may change, or there may be product differences among regional suppliers. Additionally, normal kitchen operations involve shared cooking and preparation areas, or we may need to substitute ingredients in menu items. We are therefore unable to guarantee that any menu item is free from gluten or any other allergen, and we assume no responsibility for guests with food allergies or sensitivities.

I was happy to receive the press release at first and sent back an e-mail asking about cross contamination and preparation of the menu items that were gluten-free but have not received a response as of yet. As soon as I hear back from them, I will update this post for all of you.

Coming from one who has Celiac Disease and not gluten intolerance I don’t know if I would eat there, especially if they are using the same pizza ovens.  When I was first diagnosed with CD I tried to eat there and just order a salad.  When I asked the waitress to check on the dressing ingredients for me she said that she would and when she returned said she didn’t read anything about it in the ingredients.  I was very very new at this so I ate my salad as she gave it to me and was extremely sick – I couldn’t even return to work that day.  I called the manager of my local CPK and he said he would retrain his staff on the importance of checking ingredients and preparing salads for those with allergies.  I had gone back a few times for salads and they were good but I was always nervous.

My nervous are from getting severely sick while eating there.  I know that there are plenty of chain and “regular” restaurants that offer gluten-free options and aren’t specifically gluten-free so there is always that risk of cross contamination, so this is again, a personal preference call. We don’t eat out very often, but when we do I always talk with the wait staff, hand them my awesome Triumph Dinning Card and most times even speak with the manager or chef (they come out, I don’t just go ask for them (-:) For the most part I have been fine eating out at “regular” restaurants, with a few exceptions.

I am thankful that there disclaimer is there and honest – I give them credit for that, some places aren’t so straight forward about it.

I know some of my comments are a little back and forth but I have to stress that it is a personal preference call to eat there or any non-gluten-free restaurant. P.F. Chang’s is one of my favorite places to eat because they take extra precautions to avoid cross contamination and I have never been sick there…they even serve gluten-free foods on separate dishes (the ones that say P.F. Chang’s on it…and “regular” meals are served on plain white dishes).  I don’t have one around me to try it out.  Most times when you talk to the servers, manager, chef, etc. they will take extra caution to avoid any cross-contamination and I suggest speaking with them about it.

If you are willing to try it – please come and leave a comment back here letting me know if there was any special precaution that they took in preparing your meal, how did it taste – was the crust decent, and did you get sick from it.  I don’t have one around me and at this point I am still a bit hesitant to try it.

My hope is that they aren’t just jumping on the bandwagon with a gluten-free option but they take this seriously and put together an action plan on how to prevent and eliminate cross contamination.  Fingers crossed this will happen – would be nice to eat pizza out at a restaurant again.

Please share your thoughts, concerns, etc. in the comments section – I would love to hear what you all have to say.

UPDATE 7/1/11 –

Hi Jenny – Thanks for your interest! Yes CPK is taking special precautions to make sure it’s safe. They use a separate ‘foil boat’ in the oven to cook the pizza then immediately transfer it to its own platter, cut with a separate clean pizza cutter then immediately put on a clean plate and then taken straight to the guests table.

Well with that said – I think double checking with the waitstaff that this process takes place and you should probably be okay.  Again, if anyone has tried this please come and leave a message, I know there are many mixed emotions about this news.  I wish there was one close to me so I could at least give it a shot but sadly there isn’t one.

(More photos curiosity of CPK will be posted soon)