By Ryan Ross, Foodable Contributing Writer
Of all the food trends that have swept the culinary world in the last decade, none is more significant than the advent of gluten-free cooking; in fact, you could make the argument that gluten-free cooking is a culinary discipline unto itself. And while many chefs have incorporated this new discipline into their repertoires, we thought we'd single out the top 5 gluten-free chefs of this year.
In 2016, 18,309 chefs were mentioned in 36.3 million discussions about gluten-free menu options, and using this data, we've created the Foodable Labs Sentiment Rating. Each chef was rated on a 100-point scale based on the number of positive mentions they received in the discussions about gluten-free menu options. So without further ado, let's meet the top five gluten-free chefs of 2016.
Chef Frédérique Jules, Noglu (93.71)
Cooking gluten-free meals can be challenging in and of itself, and that challenge is amplified when desserts and pastries are involved. Fortunately for those in New York and Paris who love both the sweet and savory side of gluten-free cuisine, Noglu's owner and chef Frédérique Jules has mastered the craft. Noglu is an entirely gluten-free establishment, which makes Frédérique's already-impressive creations even more remarkable.
The chocolate cake is a perfect example of the understated yet unbridled creativity on display at Noglu. A light, almost-whipped chocolate frosting encases the cake, the sweetness of the chocolate offset by the tartness of the strawberries and raspberries that adorn the top. With a list of creations like this, it's no surprise at all that Frédérique is at the top of this year's list.
Executive Chef Mark Ladner, Del Posto (93.02)
Coming in a close second behind Frédérique Jules is Mark Ladner, Executive Chef at New York's Del Posto. Though Del Posto does offer menu items containing gluten, Mark and his team at Del Posto have gone to great lengths to create a gluten-free (and vegan-friendly) section of the menu that's sure to satisfy anyone who loves food- whether or not they're gluten-free. And pasta lovers can rejoice as well; in addition to the gluten-free menu options, Del Posto also offers gluten-free versions of every type of pasta listed on the menu.
Del Posto's Insalata di Primavera is a prime example of Mark's inventive and unique approach to gluten-free and vegan dishes. The Insalata di Primavera is made with sprigs and root vegetables and served over smoked goat cheese with seed brittle and rhubarb amaro vinaigrette- a perfect dish for any palate.
Chef Brian Fernando, 1601 Bar & Kitchen (89.64)
Next on our list is Chef Brian Fernando of 1601 Bar & Kitchen. This San Francisco restaurant is known for its refreshing take on Sri Lankan cuisine and has long been a hotspot for adventurous foodies. And in spite of his commitment to bringing some of the traditional dishes of Sri Lanka to the United States, Brian has also found time to create a wonderful slate of gluten-free options for his guests.
One of the gluten-free standouts on a menu chock-full of them is the Hokkaido scallop ceviche served over ice with lychee. Though you may not be able to try this specific dish year-round, the original version (served with coconut-lime pickle and serrano peppers) is a menu staple. Brian's constant pursuit of new, exciting dishes makes 1601 a wonderful gluten-free dining option.
Executive Chef Anjan Mitra, Dosa (88.12)
Continuing in the tradition of Eastern dishes, Dosa is bringing an unexpected twist on traditional Indian fare. Headed up by Executive Chef Anjan Mitra, this San Francisco staple has made a name for itself with its vegan and gluten-free options, and the results thus far have been staggering. The menu at Dosa is incredibly varied; offerings include both popular dishes (chicken Biryani and lamb kebab sliders) and more esoteric selections (Tamil lamb, Goan coconut prawn Masala).
A wonderful representation of the ways in which Anjan is exploring the many possibilities of gluten-free cuisine is Dosa's fennel & citrus salad. What is traditionally a no-frills dish is transformed in Anjan's capable hands, and the resulting creation includes persimmons, toasted walnuts, and little gem lettuce, topped with lime & mustard-seed vinaigrette.
Chef Shawn Cirkiel, Olive & June (87.81)
Though gluten-free Italian dishes are certainly possible (and easier than ever to make), many chefs tend to avoid offering such dishes due to the additional work that goes into creating them. As Chef Shawn Cirkiel's inclusion on this list indicates, that's not the case at Olive & June in Austin, TX. The mission at Olive & June is simple: to recreate the family-style atmosphere associated with traditional Southern Italian cuisine, while also offering menu options that appeal to everyone, regardless of their dietary needs. And as the success of Olive & June demonstrates, Shawn can consider that mission well and truly accomplished.
While there are plenty of pasta-based gluten-free options on the menu, one of the staples of traditional Southern Italian cuisine is seafood. Shawn's seared tilefish (served with fregola, hazelnut, mint marigold, king trumpet mushrooms and sweet potato agrodolce) strikes the perfect balance between honoring the culinary traditions of southern Italy and adapting those traditions to be inclusive of all dietary needs. After all, creating a great meal is one thing, but crafting a wonderful meal that anyone can enjoy is its own pleasure.