Food & Dining
The Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars” Winner Shares Tips for Holiday Desserts. PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Food & Dining
Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Tuesday, 17 December 2013 14:03

If there’s one downside to fabulous, food-filled holiday celebrations, it’s the gurgles and groans of post-feasting indigestion.

“We assume it’s because we overate, but for a lot of people, that pain and sick feeling may not be about how much you ate but what you ate,” says Kyra Bussanich, (, three-time winner of The Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars” and author of a just-released recipe book, Sweet Cravings: 50 Seductive Desserts for a Gluten-Free Lifestyle.

“About 2 million Americans have celiac disease – an auto-immune reaction to gluten, the protein in wheat,” says Bussanich, whose painful symptoms became life-threatening before she was finally diagnosed with the illness. “Most of those people aren’t diagnosed though, because the symptoms look like so many other intestinal ailments.”

People with celiac disease must completely avoid gluten, which is also in rye, and barley, to avoid a case of painful and gut-damaging indigestion. But, as Harvard Medical School reported earlier this year, avoiding gluten also appears to help people with less serious digestive issues.

“It really does seem to provide some improvement in gastrointestinal problems for a segment of the population," says Harvard assistant professor Dr. Daniel Leffler.

For Bussanich, a chef, there was no choice: One speck of gluten would make her ill. But she refused to give up pastries, cakes and other treats, so she perfected gluten-free varieties. Her award-winning desserts left their flour-based competition in crumbs on “Cupcakes Wars” in 2011 and 2012, and she was a runner-up on the show’s “Cupcake Champion.”

Bussanich offers these tips for whipping up gluten-free baked goods this holiday season:

• If you’re following a recipe, don’t substitute the listed flour or starch with another type unless you’re familiar with its properties. There are many different types of gluten-free flours and starches, including millet, sorghum and sweet white rice flour, and potato and tapioca starches. Each has its own idiosyncrasies. For example, millet flour has a slightly nutty flavor and is well-suited for goods with a hearty texture. Sweet white rice flour holds moisture well and is good for recipes that have a slight gumminess to them. Potato starch is light and good for fluffy cakes.

• Use eggs and butter at room temperature. Eggs are often used as a binder, the protein that substitutes for the missing gluten. Eggs and butter are both easier to work with when used at room temperature, and room-temperature egg whites whip up fluffier. If you forget to pull the butter out of the refrigerator beforehand, heat it for 7 to 12 seconds in the microwave. Put cold eggs in warm (not hot) water for 30 to 60 seconds.

• Don’t overwork batter and dough with xanthan gum in it. Corn-based xanthan gum is often used as a stabilizer and thickener in gluten-free baked goods, sauces, dressings and soups. Once this ingredient is added, overworking the dough can give it a slimy, gummy texture, and cause it to lose flavor. (A good substitute for xanthan gum is ground psyllium seed husk.)

• Heat higher, cream longer for lighter cakes. One complaint people sometimes have about gluten-free baked goods is that they’re too dense. To prevent this, try setting the oven temperature 25 degrees warmer than you would for flour. This will cause the butter in the recipe to release its water as steam, which helps the cake rise quickly. Also, cream eggs and butter together longer – about 10 minutes – than you would for flour cakes.

Try some gluten-free desserts and maybe your holidays will be indigestion-free this year, Bussanich says.

“If your recipe doesn’t turn out wonderfully the first time, don’t give up,” she says. “I promise you, anyone can make delicious gluten-free desserts. It just may take a little practice.”

About Kyra Bussanich: Kyra Bussanich is a three-time winner of The Food Network’s hit show, “Cupcake Wars.” She graduated with honors from Le Cordon Bleu and opened her award-winning bakery, Kyra's Bake Shop, which features gourmet, gluten-free sweets. She has branched beyond desserts to other gluten-free goods in order to help those with celiac and other autoimmune diseases enjoy quality treats

The Sysco-U.S.F. deal: What’s it mean for restaurants? PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Food & Dining
Written by Peter Romeo, Restaurant Business newsletter Vice President & Editorial Director   
Friday, 13 December 2013 10:06

Pick your cliché: Symbiosis. Co-dependence. Hand-in-glove. Strategic marriage. The relationship between restaurant and distributor is unique in the business world, a connection far more critical and spirited than the traditional link between backdoor supplier and street-front retailer. Complicating the situation is the consolidation of restaurateurs’ distribution choices over the last 20 years, which left a few mega-giants and several hundred small local or specialized options.

That’s why the industry took a deep breath when news broke this week of pending nuptials between the largest and second-biggest players, Sysco and U.S. Foodservice, respectively. Together, they’d supply what experts peg as 30 percent of the nation’s restaurants and captive-feeding operations, including college dorms and school cafeterias.  The share of market would be so dominant that federal regulators have to determine the effects on competition before they’ll okay the $8.2-billion deal.

Feds aren’t the only ones with questions about the aftermath. Everyone in the business knows that operators aren’t happy about the past consolidation of so-called broad-liners.  The prevailing belief is that big distributors are more cavalier about service, knowing it’s unlikely a competitor can knock on operators’ back door with sweeter promises.

Restaurateurs also routinely grouse about having replacement products delivered in place of what they ordered, and how they feel browbeaten or dismissed when they complain.

They constantly voice concerns about how the lack of aggressive competition may be affecting prices. Even the long-held defensive tactic of cherry-picking—choosing a few staple items and seeing what other distributors charge for them, just as a reality check—is becoming difficult to employ.

Then there’s whether you earn the privilege of remaining a customer. Observers note how the minimum drop threshold—the size of the purchase a restaurant has to make to be serviced by a distributor—has been going up and up.

Against that backdrop, is it really a surprise that some operators are biting their nails over a Sysco-U.S. Foodservice marriage?

The worriers should keep a few things in mind. For one, there’s the efficiencies that a merger should provide. Two often-redundant distribution chains would be streamlined into one. The resulting company’s costs would be reduced, putting less pressure on margins, and hence prices.

Second, it’ll hasten distribution’s technological transformation. For as long as I’ve been in the business, distributors have been talking wistfully about using technology to take cost out of the system. That’s three decades, if you’re keeping a calendar. And yet the industry seems reluctant to move beyond paper and pencil, if not an abacus. The simple step of bar coding to automate inventory control has been regarded as a Mars landing.

Enough already. Consolidation makes technical progress easier, and advances in that area are sorely overdue.

Operators should also keep in mind that relations with a distributor usually boil down to interaction with their DSR. Who services you post-merger should really be the big concern, not an $8.2-billion deal that you can’t avert or control in any case.

Closing Loopholes in the Farm and Nutrition Programs PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Food & Dining
Written by Sen. Charles Grassley   
Friday, 13 December 2013 08:21

Prepared Floor Statement of Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa

The 2013 Farm and Nutrition Bill

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Mr. President, I rise today to talk about the farm bill; and specifically about reforming payment limits for farm programs.

Beyond saving money, these reforms help ensure farm payments go to those who they were originally intended, small and medium-size farmers.  In addition, the reforms include closing off loopholes so non-farmers can’t game the system.

Supporters of the farm bill need to take a hard look at what challenges were presented last year to getting the bill done.  We need to forge ahead knowing some tough decisions need to be made.

There are more reforms we need to make to programs such as food stamps; and they are reforms that cut down on waste, fraud, and abuse in the program, but also safeguard assistance for people who need it.

And while I support closing loopholes to the food stamp program, I believe the farm bill should also close the loopholes in farm programs that are abused.

As we move forward on finalizing a new Farm Bill, I want to state clearly that Sections 1603 and 1604 related to farm payments, which are in both the House and Senate Farm Bills, should stay in the bill.

These farm payment reforms strike a needed balance of recognizing the need for a farm safety-net, while making sure we have a defensible and responsible safety-net.

In case there is any doubt, we do need a farm program safety-net.  For those who argue we do not need a safety-net for our farmers, I argue they do not understand the danger of a nation which does not produce its own food.  For all the advances in modern agriculture, farmers are still subject to conditions out of their control.

And while farmers need a safety-net, there does come a point where a farmer gets big enough he can weather tough times without as much assistance from the government.

Somehow though, over the years there has developed this perverse scenario where big farmers are receiving the lion’s share of farm program payments.  We now have the largest 10 percent of farmers receiving nearly 70 percent of farm payments.

There is nothing wrong with a farmer growing his operation, but the taxpayer should not be subsidizing large farming operations to grow even larger.  By having reasonable caps on the amount of farm program payments any one farmer can receive, it helps ensure the program meets the intent of assisting small and medium-size farmers through tough times.

My payments reforms essentially say we will help farmers up to $250,000 per year, but then the government training wheels come off.

These new caps will also help encourage the next generation of rural Americans to take up farming.

I am approached time and again about how to help young people get into farming.  When large farmers are able to use farm program payments to drive up the cost of land and rental rates, our farm programs end up hurting those they are meant to help.

It is simply good policy to have a hard cap on the amount a farmer or farm entity can receive in farm program payments.  And while both bodies of Congress have decided to cap farm payments, crop insurance is still available to large operations with no limits on indemnities.

Sections 1603 and 1604 of the current farm bills set the overall payment cap at $250,000 for a married couple.  In my state of Iowa, many people would say this is still too high.  But I recognize that agriculture can look different around the country, and so this is a compromise.

Just as important to setting a hard cap on payments is closing off loopholes that have allowed non-farmers to game the farm program.

The House and Senate farm bills also end the ability of non-farmers to abuse what is known as the “actively engaged” test.

In essence, the law says one has to be actively engaged in farming to qualify for farm payments.  However, this has been exploited by people who have virtually nothing to do with the farming operation yet receive payments from the farm program.

A Government Accountability Office report which I released in October outlined how the current actively engaged regulations are so broad they are essentially unenforceable.  And those comments came from the USDA employees who administer the programs.  The report illustrated that one farming entity had 22 total members of which 16 were deemed contributing ‘active personal management only’ to the farm.

What does ‘active personal management only’ mean?   That means they are becoming eligible for farm programs because of one of the eight overly broad and unenforceable eligibility requirements that currently exist.  More simply put, they likely aren’t doing any labor and are nothing more than a participant on paper to allow the entity to get more government payments.

Our nation has over $17 trillion in debt.  We cannot afford to simply look the other way and let people abuse the farm safety-net.

I mentioned earlier how we need to assess some of the challenging areas of farm policy as we look to pass a five year farm bill, and some tough decisions need to be made.

However, my reforms to payment limits do not pose a tough decision.  They are common sense and necessary reforms that are included in both the House and Senate versions of the farm and nutrition bill.

News Releases - Food & Dining
Written by Angie Taylor   
Friday, 06 December 2013 14:51

Original Six Dollar Thickburgers and 1/3lb. Original Thickburgers at participating Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s locations

What: Starting December 9, every Monday in December is a #MondayBunday when burger fans can get a free Original Six Dollar Thickburger® or 1/3lb. Original Thickburger® on a Fresh Baked Bun at Carl’s Jr.® and Hardee’s®.

Here’s the deal: Every Monday visit or, or check on the brands’ Facebook and Twitter channels, to download the day’s unique #MondayBunday coupon.  (Note that each coupon is good only on the Monday for which it is issued.) Take the coupon to any participating Carl’s Jr. or Hardee’s restaurant, buy an Original Six Dollar Thickburger or 1/3lb. Original Thickburger on a Fresh Baked Bun and get a second one FOR FREE.

The #MondayBunday offer is good from 10:30 a.m. to closing on Mondays. Limit one per guest, who must be present, while supplies last.

New at Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s, Fresh Baked Buns are premium buns baked fresh inside the restaurants every day. The bun dough is given time to rise or “proof” and is then baked, cooled, sliced and served. Guests will notice the buns are denser, a little sweeter (bringing out the flavor of the charbroiled 100 percent Black Angus beef patties) and, of course, baked fresh, then grilled so that each one is served perfectly hot, soft and delicious. They are now served standard on all Six Dollar Thickburgers at Carl’s Jr. and 1/3lb. Thickburgers at Hardee’s.

For more information, follow us on Facebook ( and and Twitter ( and

News Releases - Food & Dining
Written by Paul Pitas   
Monday, 02 December 2013 13:25
74 restaurants in Illinois and Indiana to participate in December event

PRAIRIE DU SAC, Wis. - December 2, 2013 - On Wednesday, December 11, 74 participating Culver's restaurants in Illinois and Indiana will donate 10% of sales to the American Red Cross to help communities recently devastated by tornados and severe storms. The donation enables the Red Cross to help affected communities and individuals recover from the disasters.

"We're happy to support the Red Cross's efforts to aid relief and rebuilding efforts in Indiana and Illinois," says Craig Culver, co-founder of the restaurant chain. "Our hearts go out to everyone affected by the severe storms."

If you can't attend Culver's fundraiser on December 11, you can help by visiting, calling 1-800-RED CROSS, or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Your donation helps provide food, shelter and emotional support to those affected by disasters.

Participating area Culver's restaurants in Illinois: Addison, Arlington Heights, Belvidere, Bloomington, Bolingbrook, Bourbonnais, Buffalo Grove, Carol Stream, Carpentersville, Champaign, Crete, Crystal Lake, Danville, Darien, Downers Grove, East Peoria, Edwardsville, Frankfort, Freeport, Geneseo, Grayslake Homewood, Huntley, Island Lake, Lansing, Libertyville, Lincoln, Lombard, Matteson, McHenry, Monee, Morris, Morton, Morton Grove, Mt. Prospect, Mundelein, New Lenox, Orland Park, Ottawa, Palatine, Pekin, Peoria, Peru, Plainfield, Rockford, Romeoville, Rosemont, Roscoe, Schaumburg, South Elgin, Springfield (Wabash), St. Charles, Sycamore, Tinley Park, Winnebago, Woodstock, and Yorkville.

Participating area Culver's restaurants in Indiana: Anderson, Crawfordsville, Fort Wayne, Highland, Kokomo, Merrillville, Portage, Schererville, and Valparaiso.

About Culver's:

Culver's serves fresh food, always cooked to order, with genuine family values to each and every guest. Culver's is an expanding franchise system with nearly 500 independently owned and operated restaurants in 21 states. The restaurants' award-winning customer service is based on small-town, Midwestern values, genuine friendliness and an unwavering commitment to quality and freshness. Signature items include the ButterBurger, made from fresh, never frozen Midwest-raised beef, and Fresh Frozen Custard, including the famous Flavor of the Day program. For more information, visit, or

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