Because I had a press pass, I was emailed a lot of interview opportunities at the NRA. Most of them weren't all that enticing, however, the one that did catch my attention was for a meeting with Chef Spike Mendelsohn. Now, if you've never heard of Spike, he was on Bravo's Top Chef and he's been on various Food Network shows. He's known for his trademark fedora and is evidently adored by the ladies, so I've heard.
Anyhoo, I took the cute Whitney Ehret along with me to meet him Sunday afternoon. When we arrived at the arranged location, his PR lady actually had to politely dismiss two women from the previous appointment that were gushing overtime! I introduced myself as a gluten-free blogger, and Whitney introduced herself as a rep from the National Foundation For Celiac Awareness. We both then explained how we were helping out at the gluten-free food pavilion.
I then asked him if he ever got requests for gluten-free food at his D.C. restaurant and if he was able to accommodate them. He nodded, leaned forward and said with a smirk of smugness, "Yeah, we actually have this initiative called 'Shun The Bun'". Whitney and I giggled, both knowing that he needed to discover gluten-free hamburger buns for people to get really excited about a gluten-free "initiative", but hey, at least he was trying! [Thanks, Spike!] So, we proceeded to explain to him how the gluten-free restaurant certification works and how it seriously increases business and allows gluten-free diners to dine at ease, etc. etc. I then invited him to come visit the gluten-free pavilion and check out all of the gluten-free foods, especially the hamburger buns! Then I said, "Oh, what were we thinking?!! We should have brought you some buns!" He replied with a smile, "Yeah, ladies!", with mock disappointment.
Then he signed copies of his cookbook for us.
Peace, bacon, and no gluten
So, there you have it. That pretty much sums up our preaching the gospel of gluten-free to Chef Spike story.
Later that day I walked around and checked out some other booths at the expo. The rumor was that Swiss Chalet, a big food distributor for restaurants, had these gluten-free merengues. Mmm...
They showed me the gluten-free symbol on the packaging of their soups.
Later that evening was special reception sponsored by the NFCA.
Me, Cindy from Shabtai Gourmet, Alice Bast, and Kay from Savory Moment
Andrew from Shabtai Gourmet and Kim Koeller, author of The Gluten-Free Passport