UConn opens nation’s first on-campus gluten-free bakery

University of Connecticut’s chefs have begun whipping up gluten-free desserts in house to better meet student demand.

Published in FSD Update

By 
Katie Fanuko, Associate Editor

gluten-free-bakery

The dining services department at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, Conn., no longer has to rely solely on supplier-provided, gluten-free baked goods for gluten-intolerant customers. University bakers can now create their own treats in the first gluten-free bakery on a college campus in the country.

The bakery officially opened April 2 and is mass-producing brownies, rice crispy treats and cookies—the most popular baked goods on campus— for campus dining halls.

Rob Landolphi, culinary operations manager at UConn, says the department retrofitted a test kitchen to serve as the bakery. The 600-square-foot space was chosen because it is across campus from the central production kitchen, which significantly reduces the chance of cross-contamination.

“It’s a 100 percent gluten-free bakery,” says Landolphi. “There’s no other kitchen within a mile of it. “

He says the move was made to accommodate a growing number of requests for gluten-free items in a way that would provide higher quality products than store-bought items. More than 400 students are now requesting gluten-free foods, and the department has been selling an average of 2,000 gluten-free brownies and 1,000 gluten-free chocolate chip cookies per week—all supplied by an outside vendor. Dining services staff felt that they could produce a larger variety of higher-quality items without increasing costs, Landolphi says.

Landolphi, who has written three gluten-free cookbooks, is teaching gluten-free baking techniques to a staff chef, who in turn will teach fellow staff how to use such ingredients as rice flour, sorghum and tapioca starch to produce high-quality baked goods.

Landolphi’s team tested items with students before the bakery went live. He said he sought out students who don’t normally eat gluten-free foods, because they could better judge whether an item tasted similar to one made with wheat flour.

“When someone who is not gluten-free tastes your brownie and says, ‘That’s awesome,’ [that product’s] a go,” says Landolphi.

As more staff are trained, Landolphi says, he plans to gradually increase the number of offerings. Staff also are working to create higher-end products, such as chocolate lava cake, for special events.

“If we find something that is becoming popular,” he says, “we want to be able to offer it.”

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
plastic straws

An item about the size of a pencil has become the latest target in foodservice operators’ sustainability plans. Though small, plastic straws are said to have a large impact on the environment, with Americans using approximately 500 million straws each day, according to a release from Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium, which temporarily ditched plastic straws as part of an Earth Day promotion this year.

In recent months, a growing number of eateries and cities across the United States have scrapped plastic straws. In July, Seattle enacted a ban on plastic straws and utensils, requiring...

Industry News & Opinion

Medford High School in Medford, Mass., is looking to add an orchard to its campus, Wicked Local reports.

The idea for the orchard was brought forth by students looking to help combat food insecurity. They are working with the school’s nutritionist to make the orchard a reality.

If planted, the orchard would be located inside the school’s courtyard and would grow fruits such as apples, paw paws, blueberries, peaches and plums. It would also include an outdoor classroom space.

The school committee signed off on the project last year; however, some administrators are...

Ideas and Innovation
plastic cutlery

At St. Jude Children’s Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., protecting the environment and supporting the health and well-being of its employees and communities go hand in hand. FoodService Director spoke to Kevin Krueger, procurement and sustainability manager for the hospital, to learn about the strategies it employs to carry out that mission.

Q: What strategies have you put in place to help meet your diners’ expectations around sustainability?

A: One of the first projects I took on when I started here was removing products made of expanded polystyrene from our retail operation, which was...

Ideas and Innovation
fresh lettuce

High school students in the School District of West Salem in West Salem, Wis., have access to fresh lettuce at their garden bars and in premade salads at lunch through the district’s aquaponics garden, which will be expanded to include herb towers this fall.

This spring, the district is also broadening its sustainable and local sourcing efforts by planting 55 apple trees as part of the district’s new “food forest.” Director of Nutrition Services Kerri Feyen says the district stayed away from a traditional school garden or farm due to the central Wisconsin climate the district is...

FSD Resources

Code for Asynchronous jQuery Munchkin Tracking Code