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Q&A with Chef John Benton

Chef John BentonChef John Benton, Executive Chef at Venue Restaurant and Lounge, understands just how important safe gluten-free food is to our community. John holds both an associate and bachelor’s degree in Culinary Arts from the renowned Johnson & Wales University in Rhode Island and is trained in classical French gastronomy and has expertise in Mediterranean, Spanish, Italian, Asian and Modern American cuisine. According to John, “Everyday, it’s our purpose to provide a consistently outstanding dining experience for each and every guest.”

Why do you serve gluten-free food in your restaurant?

We serve gluten-free food in our restaurant because we feel it is just as important as catering to guests without dietary restrictions. Gluten-free diners love to eat good food, too! As a restaurant, it is important to us to accommodate that need. As a chef, I just love to make delicious, wholesome, beautiful food in order to make our guests happy. If we can make just one small impact in our guest’s lives, even if only for a moment, by doing something so simple as eliminating gluten and ensuring safe food, then our mission is complete.

Beckee Moreland's Gluten-Free Dish at Venue Restaurant and Lounge

Chef John uses this simple, yet clear marking to alert
guests and servers that a dish is gluten-free.

Some people are hesitant or embarrassed when it comes to voicing their gluten-free needs in a restaurant. In time, people are likely to overcome this hesitation or embarrassment. For those who have yet to reach that point, what are your tips for discreetly, yet effectively, communicating gluten-free needs?

The only advice I have for a hesitant or embarrassed gluten-free guest is to not be hesitant! Our staff has been trained through the Beyond Celiac GREAT Kitchens program and has no problem accommodating gluten-free requests. Our servers, kitchen staff, and managers are knowledgeable of gluten-free ingredients as well as our menu offerings and would never be upset or talk down to a guest when answering questions. If we can’t find something on our menu to accommodate you, then we will create a dish for you that not only meets but exceeds your expectations!

Beckee Moreland and John Benton at Venue Restaurant and Lounge

Beyond Celiac Director of GREAT Kitchens
Beckee Moreland dropped by Venue Restaurant & Lounge
to get a taste of Chef John’s delicious gluten-free dishes.

We all know that mistakes can happen when preparing a gluten-free meal. If a diner suspects there may be gluten in a dish once they receive it, what’s the best way for them to approach the problem?

We never want to serve a gluten-free diner gluten! Mistakes do happen sometimes and if you suspect there is gluten in your dish please let your server know. We will happily correct the issue by preparing a new dish for you. We don’t want to serve you gluten just as much as you don’t want it served to you. Let us help correct the issue!

Why do you think it’s important for gluten-free diners to seek out a GREAT-trained restaurant? How has the GREAT Kitchens program impacted your process for serving safe gluten-free meals?

We feel it is important for gluten-free diners to seek out a GREAT-trained restaurant for their meal because it demonstrates that the whole restaurant is committed to understanding and providing great gluten-free food. There are many different varieties of foods that are prepared in commercial kitchens and having the assurance that the cooks, service staff, and management are all knowledgeable when it comes to gluten-free food service and preparation is important. Since going through the GREAT training, we have not only streamlined our gluten-free protocols but have also ensured that all of our staff are knowledgeable as well.

Chef John Benton with General Manager Justin Cooksley

Chef John (right) with Venue Restaurant & Lounge
general manager, Justin Cooksley

What are the 3 most important things for your staff members to know when it comes to serving gluten-free meals?

  1. Which ingredients in the dishes on our menu contain gluten
  2. Always accommodate the guest. They know more about their body than anyone else.
  3. Be sure that a gluten-free guest’s food is always communicated to management, notated on the order, reaffirmed when the food is being picked up from the kitchen, and restated to the gluten-free diner.

Venue Restaurant & Lounge

Venue Restaurant & Lounge, located in
Lincoln, NE

Is there anything else you’d like to share about gluten-free dining, menus, your restaurant or GREAT Kitchens?

Venue Restaurant and Lounge is a full service restaurant in Lincoln, Nebraska. Featuring chef-inspired American cuisine and masterfully crafted cocktails. In addition to being a GREAT-trained restaurant for gluten-free dining we also offer three private event spaces and are available for any style of off-site catering/bar events.

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