A Tribute to Melinda Siegel Frisch

We meet so many wonderful customers who become friends. I often say that because we are always at the restaurant; our customers become our friends and many are like family because we spend more time with them than we do our own families.

Melinda has been a fixture at One Dish Cuisine Cafe, Deli and Bakery since we opened the doors in September of 2012.  Her bright and cheerful disposition drew people to her. Many of you will recognize her, she was in several times a week to get her favorite dishes, usually a Reuben or our Spaghetti and Meatballs, but she loved just about everything we made.  We got to know her friends too. Sue was often a fixture accompanying Melinda to “her place”. We knew her wonderful family,  husband Mike and her children Hannah and Joel. Mike has given me permission to share Melinda’s story and write a tribute to her…he said, “she would love it”.

Melinda’s life was action packed. She was an IAYT Certified Yoga Therapist and taught Yoga at Body Balance and the Yoga Center of Columbia.  She was a former instructor at Loyola College of MD and Golden Heart Yoga. She had her Master of Science in Yoga Therapy and Master of Science in Nutrition and Integrative Health from Maryland University of Integrative Health.  In addition she had her master of Arts in Spanish form Middlebury College Spanish School in Madrid and Secondary and Elementary education in Spanish from Towson University.

Melinda had been diagnosed with Crohn’s/Colitis but was still struggling with GI issues and often expressed her frustration that her GI was not listening to her. She believed she had Celiac too, but was not tested for it. Melinda was having many issues and was really trying to manage her diet to help manage her symptoms. She always said, “something is not right”.  Finally, she had enough and went to see another doctor who listened to her and ran the right tests. I did not see her for a few weeks, so I knew something was up. She came in to see me and shared the news with me.

The diagnosis was Stage 4 Colon Cancer. She went through several rounds of chemo and always had such a positive attitude. The last few months were very difficult for her. She was not able to eat and was getting very dehydrated. When she was released from the hospital Mike would bring her here to eat. She would always order her Reuben and we would be so happy to see her eat just one bite. I would ask her what she could taste and she would say she could taste some chocolate and I would send her home with a few treats.

On the way out we would hug and cry and she would say that she was so scared. All I could do is hold her and tell her that I was praying for her and that I loved her so much and that I wished I could make it all go away. This scenario was repeated several times. After she left I would walk back into my office and cry and let out a lot of anger.

I never shared this with Melinda, because I wanted her to remain positive. I felt like I was reliving what happened to my best friend Carole; who had the exact same thing happen to her when she was only 33. Her doctor blamed it all on postpartum issues after the birth of her second child.  It was colon cancer. We buried her at 35 leaving a 3 year old and a 5 year old. I was angry at the doctors who were not listening to their patients. I was angry because this was so preventable!  Why don’t some doctors listen to the patient and run some tests instead of assuming their symptoms are in their heads?

For all of you reading this, I know this is what Melinda would say: “Please, if you do anything, take control of your health! If your doctor is not listening and invalidating you or your symptoms; please, please, please, find one who will listen and run the tests needed to make a proper diagnosis. It can save your life!” I know Melinda would never want to see anyone go through what she had to endure. Take control, see a new doctor and possibly save your life!

Melinda, you were a bright light in our lives and we are so thankful to have been a part of your life. I know I will see you again one day and I’ll be bringing the Reubens with me! I love you and am thankful for your friendship, your wisdom and for sharing so much of your life with us and so many others.  Godspeed Melinda Siegel Frisch…..

 

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Nima Sensor, Sunflower Cafe to Close, New Day GF Hopes to Re-open

This week I tell you all about the new Nima Sensor and how it works.  Three weeks in a row I am having to tell you about gluten-free places closing; The Sunflower Cafe/Bakery in Williampsport, PA will close on October 30, 2016. Lastly, I will share some news about New Day GF hoping to open in a new location!

The Sunflower Cafe/Bakery in Williamsport, PA will close it’s doors. I was informed by one of my facebook followers last week and I immediately went to Sunflower Cafe’s facebook page. I  went to her page and read back about one year; I started crying.  She was very open about her struggles; talking about selling furniture to pay her business loan and trying to do it all by herself because she could not afford to pay help. Wow; she had 5 star ratings.  Let’s look at this situation by looking at the numbers:

Population of Williamsport, PA: 29,349 x 1.3% = 381 Celiacs

-This means every Celiac and their friends/family would need to eat there at least once a week. I know from experience that this did not happen.  Looking at this population statistic, I know it could not work because there are no large cities nearby. I am thankful to Sunflower Cafe & Bakery for being a safe haven for those with Celiac Disease.

Everyone is talking about the new Nima Sensor: Dining out in restaurants full of gluten is a calculated risk that many take way too often and pay the price later. Now you can test your food before you eat it! This is great news if you have Celiac Disease or a Wheat Allergy. Nima Sensor is a portable sensor that tests liquid and solid foods for the presence of gluten (wheat, rye and barley) in about two minutes. Nima hopes to be able to test for top 8 allergens in the future! My thoughts are:

  1. If you eat out a lot, you can make sure your food is safe before you eat it.
  2. If people detect gluten in their meals it will drive them back to the completely GF places who are doing it right!
  3. Cost for the device is $279.00
  4. Refill test capsules cost $60.00 for 12 capsules or $5.00 per test.
  5. Pretty pricey; add $5.00 to the price of your meal.
  6. Your meal is probably cheaper at the dedicated GF place; you don’t need to test it.
  7. If you must eat at a regular restaurant; a  $5 test is cheaper than taking days off work.
  8. If it detects gluten, the restaurant probably won’t refund your meal; especially if they have a disclaimer on their menu!
  9. Level of detection is to 20 ppm (parts per million).
  10. I won’t be getting one right now because I am always at One Dish Cuisine!

Click Here to learn more

Go Fund Me Page for New Day GF:  As I told you two weeks ago; this 5 star rated Gluten Free and Peanut Free cafe  was in a small town, too far out from St Louis, MO and had several competitors that had opened up in St Louis.  Last Friday they posted that they identified a new location just outside of St Louis and were awaiting “capital” or financing. It looks like they were not able to obtain financing. A “Go Fund Me” page was posted to their facebook page. They need to raise $300,000 in order to re-open. I hope that they can raise the funds, re-0pen and prosper in the new location.

 

 

“Grilled Cheese; Hold The Peanut Butter?”

Most of you have already heard about the recent disaster with Panera serving a grilled cheese and adding peanut butter to it; despite the customer disclosing a peanut allergy. This is very unfortunate and it defies rationale. I have thought and thought about this situation and I was at a loss for words.

Paul Antico to the rescue! Paul is the founder of Allergy Eats and is father to several children with multiple food allergies and works tirelessly on behalf of the food allergy community.  Without a doubt, I have to say that I agree with Paul’s take on this and could not have said it better myself. This is a must read if you have food allergies or celiac disease.

The bottom line is this; what what happened and what can we learn from it? Paul lets you know in his blog post titled: “Panera Food Allergy Disaster: Lawsuit and What Went Wrong”

We can learn a whole lot!  On that note…take it away Paul….  Click here to read!

To check out Allergy Eats guide to finding allergy friendly restaurants Click Here

Share your thoughts with us!

Panera Grilled Cheese

Things That Make You Go Hmmmm!

thingthatmakeyougohmmm

Funny Story #1: We all have those times when we hear something and can’t believe we heard it.  Then, we have no choice but to assume that the person is kidding.  Then, if that is not the case, you just play along and are left shaking your head. Our line-cook, Kendall, had just that type of experience last week. I hope this one makes you laugh too!

Kendall was working the front counter when a customer and a friend came in to eat.  The customer is gluten sensitive, and the friend had never been here before. He had no food restrictions whatsoever.  So, Kendall explained the menu to the friend (who was in his late 20’s or early 30’s), we will just call him “Tom”.  Tom decided on our Cheese Steak Sub. Kendall went over condiment choices with him and he rattled off everything he wanted on his cheese steak:

Tom: “Mayo, Lettuce, Tomato, Sauteed Onions…and can I get gluten on it too?”

Kendall: “No, I am sorry; as I explained before, the facility is free of gluten.”

Tom: “Yeah, I know; but I CAN have Gluten, can’t you just add it to mine?”

Kendall: “No, I can’t. I am sorry.”

Kendall shared a glance with the regular customer and a smile.  Kendall later told me that she could not believe it, she thought he was kidding. However, the look on Tom’s friend’s face definitely said that he was not kidding.

So, this is definitely the first time we have had a customer who thought Gluten was a condiment that you can add to a sandwich!  We all laughed until our faces hurt.  But, this is a great reminder of how little the general public knows about Gluten.

Serious Story #2:  Labeling Disaster at our Local Giant Food

A member recently posted on the Chesapeake Celiac Support Facebook page about Bourbon BBQ Sauce made by Giant…it makes a gluten free claim on the front of the label, but clearly has wheat as an ingredient in the soy sauce in it. The other issue is the Bourbon!  This is not allowed under the FDA Labeling. The law is that no ingredient that actually contains wheat, rye or barley can be used in a product bearing a GF Label, even if it contains less than 20ppm!  Hence, Gluten removed beers can no longer claim them to be GF because they can’t validate with testing that the Barley has been removed! (Schar products use a product called “codex wheat starch” that is processed to remove the wheat, so it is allowed, but they still have to say “contains codex wheat starch processed to remove wheat”.) So, you may be asking “how can this happen?”

There is no federal oversight; people can just do what they want until they get caught!  Pure ignorance on Giant’s part.  Here is the response Giant Food gave to the person who bought the product and inquired:

Irene, thanks for raising the question about this product. Our Own Brand’s Quality Team provided this explanation. Gluten is a general name for the proteins found in wheat, rye, barley and triticale. Thus, all products with wheat, contain some gluten. The Banjo BBQ Sauce contains soy sauce, which has wheat as a sub-ingredient. The wheat that is in the soy sauce, does contain gluten, but only a very, very small amount.

FDA mandates gluten-free labeling. In order for a product to be labeled “gluten-free”, it must have <20 ppm of gluten. This product has been tested for gluten, and not only does it meet the <20ppm threshold, but it actually contains <5ppm of gluten. Thus, we can guarantee that the product meets the standard to label the product “gluten-free”, even though it does contain very trace amounts of gluten.

We understand that this could be confusing to customers, and thus, in order to be 100% transparent, the supplier is working to reformulate the product to remove soy sauce. Post-reformulation, there will be no wheat listed in the ingredient statement and should reduce customer confusion. I hope this explanation helps. Should you have other questions about any of our Own Brand products please feel free to call the toll free number and our representatives will be glad to help.”

Oh, please!  That was a big lie.  So, if this is really true, why would they be reformulating it to remove the soy sauce?  Oh, and isn’t Bourbon made with Rye? Bourbon is 51% corn and the remainder is usually malted barley comprised of rye or wheat. There is no safe way to remove the rye, or at least verify that the rye has been removed.  So, the problem is the wheat in the soy sauce and possibly rye or wheat in the bourbon.  Those are my red flags.

Basically, Giant Food is telling their customers with Wheat Allergies and Celiac Disease that they don’t care enough about you to do it right.  They are also saying that when you catch us lying to you, we are still going to lie to you when trying to explain ourselves. They brazenly assumed that we all are stupid.

You still need to be vigilant out there and you need to understand the labeling laws yourself because there is no FDA oversight because the GF Labeling Law is VOLUNTARY not mandatory!

I won’t be supporting my local Giant Food any longer.  We had this issue a few years ago with a bourbon chicken that they were selling and claiming that all of their Deli Meats were gluten free.  They did not care then and they don’t care now.  This incident has been reported to Gluten Free Watchdog.

Great job Irene. Stay Vigilant Folks!

Tips for Cooking Gluten and Allergy-Free

Cooking Tips for Mistakes:
Don’t be too hard on yourself when you make a mistake; keep your sense of humor!  When cooking, you can usually taste the end product and figure out what to add to it in order to fix it. When baking; if the bread doesn’t come out right; let it cool, then cut into cubes and make croutons with oil and seasoning, then freeze them.  Or you can let it cool and then put in food processor or blender and make bread crumbs and freeze them.

For sweet mistakes, the slightest mistake can make an ugly disaster but still taste really great. Just stay calm and re-purpose the mistake where it is a condiment and not the star of the show; then you can come out on top!  Like cakes; crumble the item and use crumbs as a topping for a parfait (“everybody loves a parfait” said the Donkey in Shrek) or crumble for a pie crust.

So when I make a mistake or someone in the bakery makes a mistake, I have fun running around the kitchen trying to figure out what I can make out of the mistake. Watch this 1 minute clip and this will help you keep your sense of humor the next  time you think you have a disaster. The clip below is what runs through my mind when I make a mistake; don’t panic, be a Donkey!