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Purported Tavern on the Green Chef Says He Lied About Serving Gluten-Free Food

By Amy Zimmer | April 1, 2011 11:40am
Damian Cardone
Damian Cardone
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By Amy Zimmer

DNAinfo News Editor

MANHATTAN — Diners with gluten allergies are choking on the admission by a chef — who claims to have worked at the now-closed Tavern on the Green — that he lied to customers about their dishes being gluten-free.

Damian Cardone, reportedly the former executive banquet chef at the iconic Central Park restaurant, caused a stir when he posted his anti-gluten-free diatribe on his Facebook page — which was taken down after Foodista found it.

Let them eat gluten was apparently his approach to customers with Celiac disease or other gluten problems requesting special meals.

"Gluten free is bullshit!! Flour and bread have been a staple of life for thousands, THOUSANDS of years. People who claim to be gluten intolerent [sic] dont [sic] realize that its [sic] all in there [sic] disturbed little heads," Cardone fired off in a March 10 Facebook post, according to Foodista, whose story has been chomping through the blogosphere, leaving a bad taste in many mouths.

Chef Damian Cardone admitted to using gluten when customers asked for gluten-free past.
Chef Damian Cardone admitted to using gluten when customers asked for gluten-free past.
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DNAinfo/Yepoka Yeebo

"People ask me for gluten free pasta in my restaurant all the time, I tell em sure, Then I serve serve em our pasta, Which I make from scratch with high gluten flour," he continued. "And you know what? nothing, NOTHING! ever happens! People leave talking about how good they feel gluten free and guess what, They just had a full dose! Idiots!"

Dr. Alessio Fasano of the University of Maryland's Center for Celiac Research estimates some 20 million people have gluten sensitivities, which is different from Celiac disease, but also affects their digestive system and causes diarrhea, joint pain, depression and migraines, among other problems.

One eater, recently diagnosed with a gluten problem, commenting on Foodista, said it takes two to four hours for a reaction after eating tainted food.

"People mistake the allergy for something like an anaphalactic shock sort of allergy, when instead it's like lactose intolerance, digestive upset," the commenter wrote.

Cardone's most recent employer, Florindo's in Colorado, said he was only a part-time waiter, according to reports.

The Colorado Attorney General's office told the Daily News it received a "handful" of complaints about Cardone this week after his post went viral, but it was too soon to know if the office would investigate or file any suits.

"Many of us who have Celiac, or live with those that who do, know the importance of avoiding gluten at all costs," the Gluten Free Life blogger wrote. "Many times, finding a restaurant or cafe that has a gluten free menu and takes the time to make sure it doesn’t get contaminated is a source of great excitement."

The writer continued: "Sometimes, gluten gets in there anyways. This post by a chef on Facebook makes me wonder how often it isn't a mistake."