Food allergy friendly 110 Grill, its cooks, takes center stage tomorrow

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Sous chef Kunal Kapor, left, and executive chef Steve Talley share a laugh on Monday as they prepare for the restaurant's opening on Wednesday. (Lebanon Voice photo/Harrison Throp)

ROCHESTER - If someone tomorrow says they're taking you out to a dinner and a show, they could be taking you to just one place.

Enter the 110 Grill at the Ridge Marketplace, where the cooks do their thing out in the open for customers to watch their every move, even the occasional, inevitable screwup.

"It'a a double-edged sword," says executive chef Steve Talley. "When the miscues happen, that's when we really have to be on our game."

Talley says he personally loves the challenge of putting out a great meal in front of an audience.

"It enhances everything; they planned those high-top booth so they can see us," he added. "And we don't' hide anything."

110 Grill General Manager Bernie Lontine amplified on Talley's assessment, saying his kitchen staff "aren't part of the show, they are the show."

"When my guy's on sauté and he has a four-foot flame kicking off, it will get your attention," he said on Monday.

But it's not all show at the 110. There's plenty of substance, too, with everything made from scratch every day.

Because it's done from scratch and made to order, Lontine said any diner - especially those with food allergies - will be pleasantly surprised with the knowledge level his staff has on making everyone feel welcome.

"We're not precooking anything," he said. "If you have a food allergy like gluten or nuts or whatever, we want you to feel like you're a normal customer, not a bother."
For instance one of the restaurant's most popular dishes is the Chicken Caprese Parmesan, which takes a panko breading. So for someone with a gluten intolerance, "we would substitute panko corn flour instead of the breading," Lontine said, "then it would go to the saute station and they would put pesto without nuts in it, garlic tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and it goes in the oven."

To maintain a gluten free integrity, the restaurant has two dedicated nongluten frialators, he added.

Lontine also noted that waitstaff get extensive training on allergy issues, but also that since their food is made from scratch, "Eight-five percent of our menu is gluten free naturally, but by subbing ingredients or taking them out, we can go to 99 percent gluten free. How we treat food allergies is what sets us apart. You don't want that ingredient; we take it out."

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