Tom Gumpel is the head baker for Panera Bread. Panera Bread has decided to jump into the gluten-free TREND. Tom Gumpel is not happy about this. This does not bode well for the celiac community.
Arrogance and ignorance are not our friend (are they anybody’s friend??)
Let’s start with the arrogance.
Here are some of Mr. Gumpel’s quotes:
“Bread has been just beaten up. You have 10,000 years of bread in some form or function, and then all of a sudden this generation has just killed it. Whether it’s the carbohydrates, low-carb, gluten [free], pick something.” (entrepreneur.com)
That’s right Tom…this health-conscious generation is just killing the bread industry. Silly us trying different things so we can feel better. Adapt or find another job.
“There are some pretty poor gluten-free breads out there, so I went into this kicking and screaming. Once I committed to it, I said to myself, ‘how would you pull this off as an artisan baker?’ There is little to no good-tasting gluten-free bread in this country, and I’ve eaten about every slice there is. We are responding to peoples requests and doing it with integrity.” (thedailymeal.com)
Thanks so much Tom for coming to our rescue. We’ve been waiting for someone just like you to FINALLY deliver real gluten-free bread. You’re my hero!!!
Wait…hold on…my inner voice is saying something. What’s that? There are other companies out there already making good gluten-free bread? Like gfJules, Three Bakers, Canyon Bakehouse, Udi’s?
Ah…never mind Tom, you’re not my hero. You actually sound like a misinformed egomaniac. Please…don’t do me any favors.
Moving onto ignorance.
Panera is making the gluten-free bread with 100% gluten-free ingredients. Yay…it’s gluten-free!
Panera is making the gluten-free bread in a gluten-free facility. Yay…it’s gluten-free!
Panera is displaying and storing the gluten-free bread next to the regular menu items. What??
They are not even calling it gluten-free. They are calling it…ugh…gluten conscious.
Gluten conscious. Let that sink in a bit.
So let me get this straight…you don’t WANT to do this, you feel like you HAVE to do this; you are taking all of the right precautions in baking the bread, but then cross-contaminating the hell out of it; and then you’re coming up with a ridiculous term for it, making it that much more difficult for the celiac community to be taken seriously.
Look…I’ve said hundreds of times that celiacs don’t own gluten-free. Panera Bread is a business. And the number one goal of any business is to make money. And they will do whatever it takes to reach that goal. But please don’t act like you are doing the world a big favor and lowering your standards so you can appease the gluten-free community.
Speaking for myself…I’m just not that desperate for your bread.
Consider this a “conscious uncoupling”.