Update: The giveaway is now closed and the winners have received emails. Congrats to all. If you didn’t win, don’t fear – you’ll still be able to order gluten-free pizza starting Monday, January 26, 2015 in some Pizza Hut stores!
You know, I love cooking at home. I cook the majority of our meals. But you know what? I don’t always want to cook. Sometimes, I don’t have time. Sometimes, I just want easy. Sometimes, I want comfort, and I just plain don’t want to cook every single component of my meal from scratch.
When I was gluten-free, often I didn’t have an alternative. I could either make my meal every night, or else there was little I could eat. Gradually, a few restaurants would be suitable, but it was a precious few.
Sometimes, you just want to have a pizza delivered while you chill in your pajamas.
Or maybe you have a child that has celiac disease. They are hanging out with some friends, and want to stay over for dinner and spend the night. The friends are ordering pizza, and your child wants the same. Do you make one gluten-free from scratch and send it? Do they eat an alternative meal? Sometimes, you just want to give your child the opportunity to feel included.
That’s why I’m so excited to tell you about Pizza Hut’s announcement that they will offer gluten-free pizza at 2400 of their U.S. stores starting Monday, January 26, 2015. They have partnered with Udi’s Gluten-Free to offer a delicious, gluten-free crust, and have worked with the Gluten Intolerance Group to make the process as solid as possible, to protect against cross-contamination and help ensure that the product delivered to you is indeed gluten-free.
I was invited to visit the Pizza Hut Global Headquarters yesterday for a demonstration on the process of making their gluten-free pizza. It was pretty incredible to have the opportunity to ask all of our questions and learn (and actually make it ourselves!) the process.
We got to meet the Global Executive Chef, Wiley Bates, and he first showed us that every tool used in the making of the pizza was color-coded in a purple plastic bin with a lid. This bin included a dual tip bottle, a container of cheese, a measuring cup for the cheese, and a container with pepperoni. The employee will put on fresh, clean gloves, take a gluten-free crust from the dedicated box at the top of the freezer (stored on the top shelf so nothing can fall into it and contaminate), place onto a pan lined with parchment paper. They’ll then sauce the crust with the dedicated sauce bottle, top with the dedicated cheese, and pepperoni (if desired), and bake.
Once it comes out of the oven, there is another color-coded purple bin, with a color-coded pizza cutter (which is an entirely different type of cutter than used for regular pizzas – there’s no confusing the two). The pizza is slid directly into the special Udi’s Gluten-Free pizza box, and then cut with the dedicated cutter. The pizza never comes in contact with gluten.
Yes, there are gluten-containing foods in the kitchen. And if you want something other than just cheese and pepperoni on your pizza, then Pizza Hut can offer that, but they make a clear disclaimer letting you know that the other toppings are from their regular pizza-making line, and could have come in contact with gluten. There is no flour in their kitchens.
The process was excellent. They thought of everything. Gluten Intolerance Group worked hard along with Pizza Hut to come up with a process that would work in the “real world”. What’s more, Pizza Hut has excellent auditing practices, and in addition, Gluten Intolerance Group audits them as well to ensure they are meeting requirements for the certification. It’s impressive, honestly. I trust the process. If you are gluten-free and want to eat food from a restaurant, this is one of the safest available options, short of a restaurant that does 100% gluten-free food.
But….HOW DOES IT TASTE?
Awesome. It tastes pretty awesome. The crust is the same recipe used for Udi’s retail crusts, but it’s different in size slightly. But it’s baked in a professional pizza oven, so it comes out crispy and delicious. It also has Pizza Hut’s signature sauce and cheese recipe, so it tastes like a Pizza Hut pizza. It’s every college student’s dream, and every teenager’s favorite food, in gluten-free form.
Pizza Hut doesn’t plan to stop here. There are hopes to expand to all stores, and eventually to add more toppings to the dedicated gluten-free process. But they want to be sure they have the process down right, and want to be sure that they’re responsive to your needs and transparent about the process, before they expand. They’ve posted a FAQ on their website, and if you have a question, on their Contact Us section of the page, there is an option to ask questions specifically about gluten-free. They want to help. I’m totally on board with that.
For $9.99, I’m game. I know I have some gluten-free family members and friends that will be able to take advantage of this and can order a pizza for delivery, and trust that it’s safe to eat.
READY TO TRY FOR YOURSELF?
I’m giving away 4 Pizza Hut $15 gift cards! That’s enough for you to order a pizza and leave a tip! To enter for a chance to win, simply leave a comment. Sorry, US residents 18 years of age and older only.
The giveaway will end Saturday, 1/24/15, at 11:59 Central Time.