Happy Sunday gluten free-ers! I am finally settled back into my own time zone and (slowly) re-adjusting to the colder weather…I had a wonderful time out in LA last week celebrating Ryan and my 5 year anniversary, which he planned wonderfully (as always). Now that I am back, I want to share my fantastic experiences at Loyola Marymount University. I have been planning to start a “Gluten Free in College” series so I will start with LMU Part 1: The Lair.
Loyola Marymount University is a breathtakingly beautiful campus in Westchester, right by LAX airport (FYI it is one of the top 5 film schools in the country!! Way to go, Ryan!). You can see all of LA from the campus, which sits on top of a hill. And…it is gluten free heaven for celiac disease. I have visited 4 times now and each time I was warmly greeted by the staff there. Upon arriving in the dining hall, I met with one of the head chefs who kindly walked me around to each of the stations to tell me what I could and could not have. The chefs assessed the severity of my condition—AKA I couldn’t have cross contamination since I am super sensitive—and then they recommended the appropriate measures. To prevent cross contamination, the chefs were willing to make anything I saw out front in the back for me—they even recommended this!!! However, they cautioned against the gluten free tortillas as they are heated on the same surface as the flour containing one (yay LMU for recognizing this!).
The Lair: this dining location is similar to a food court. You walk up to the counter/station of your choosing and request whatever you would like that they offer. There is a salad counter, sandwich counter, bagel counter, grill, “homestyle vegan (and usually gluten free)” counter, stirfry station (entirely gluten free!), and Mexican food counter (think Chipotle). During my trip, I was able to try three of these stations, which I will talk about in more detail about below.
Bagel counter: One afternoon, I was craving a bagel—something bready and not too heavy. Before I got my hopes up, I double checked with the staff at that station. Yes, they have a dedicated area for gluten free bagels: separate surface and separate utensils. I danced up and down when they told me that they had a special gluten free only toaster. They advised me against the spreads due to cross contamination (would never have risked that but I was glad that they were knowledgeable enough to point that out!). Instead, they gave me prepackaged peanut butter, jelly, and butter. I was happy enough with that! The staff washed their hands and changed gloves, smiling the whole time. I appreciated not being treated as a nuisance.
Stirfry counter: I was happily informed that everything at this station is gluten free!! All of the sauces are made in house and are made with tamarind rather than soy sauce, except for the curry sauce, which is made out of the house. The curry sauce is gluten free according to that company, but LMU doesn’t like to call outsourced food gluten free unless they are made in house. FYI all of the soy sauce on campus is gluten free since it is tamarind (except for the tiny packets that come with sushi). How this station works is that you go fill up a bowl with veggies and then bring it to the counter. The staff will add garlic or ginger (if you want) to the veggies in a giant pan. They will add Korean, Teriyaki, or curry sauce to your meal as well as noodles (gluten free!) or rice. You can choose a small or regular sized meal. Delicious! Side note: the sauces are strong so don’t get too much!
Mexican Food Style counter: This station reminds me so much of chipotle! I had a rice bowl and when I told the main staff member, Naki, that I had celiac, she went above and beyond. Even though each ingredient has its own utensil and the only thing containing flour are the tortillas, she went in back and got me fresh everything!!! So very kind of her. I can’t believe she took the time to do that. She understood that flour could contaminate so she took extra precautions. Wonderful woman. She even checked in on me every time I came to the Lair to see if I needed anything.
As for the grill station, the chef was willing to make me a burger or any grill item separately and had gluten free buns available. For the sandwich station, they would need to get supplies from the back to prevent cross contamination. Spreads, like the bagel counter, were out of the question.
The desserts…yes, they carry packaged gluten free desserts including the best gluten free brownie I have ever had! Packaged=doesn’t touch the gluten containing desserts. I may or may not have eaten 4 over that one weekend alone!
Only downside to the Lair: community table. This happens every weekend…Friday night through Sunday night. What does this mean? Everything is prepared—no specializing your burrito bowl or creating your own stirfry. Higher chance of cross contamination. I had a hard time finding something I could eat, but luckily the chef was able to make me something in the back. If you plan on visiting, avoid these nights and take the time to try out the nearby restaurants! Awesome gluten free options there.
I am not a student there and yet the staff treated me as if I was one of their own. My autoimmune diseases was not only understood but respected. I look forward to all of my future visits to LMU and want to thank everyone who has made the past 4 visits so flawless. LMU is officially celiac disease paradise!
Stay tuned for Part 2 of Gluten Free Loyola Marymount University! As well as posts about Cornell University (my alma mater!). Have a great week everyone!