Free to Indulge

By Janine Robinson

When the request came in to the Pelican Hill® kitchen for a glutenfree birthday cake, the chefs quickly got to work on a creative recipe. Instead of offering an alternative dessert, they embraced the challenge of creating a traditional cake that was fluffy, delicious and held up to candles. Because of their great care and skill, they delivered a decadent three-layer chocolate birthday cake. And no one even noticed the missing flour.

“The guest was blown away with the cake we made,” said Executive Chef Jean-Pierre Dubray. “This wasn’t just a scoop of gelato with a single candle stuck in it. The fact that we were able to make a real cake is so great because the guest could still have the same type of birthday celebration.”

With the soaring popularity of specialty diets, especially the current gluten-free trend, Dubray said Pelican Hill has responded to the rise in unique diet requests with its signature gracious style. Whether it’s making a cake without wheat protein for the gluten-free crowd, holding the goat cheese on a salad for a vegan or suggesting vegetarian options for those who don’t eat meat, all three restaurants strive daily to accommodate their guests’ unique wants and needs. And in the process, they make sure not to sacrifice any part of their dining experience, especially the quality and flavor of the food.

“The first thing I tell my chefs is that if there’s anything our guests want, we will do it,” Dubray said.

The chefs at the Resort are happy to accommodate almost any type of request, especially when they know ahead of time, he said. The most ideal time to let the culinary staff know about special diets is during check-in, or when booking a reservation at an individual restaurant. Guests also have the opportunity to share their wishes when Resort staff gives them a pre-call to ask about their accommodations and needs. An in-house system immediately informs all three kitchens so that both in-room dining and restaurant meals can include customized menus and options.

“That way we can be proactive,” Dubray said. “The idea is when the guest comes, we want to give that extra step of service, and show that we understand their needs. We can even propose a menu and see if there’s anything else we can have our chef prepare for them.”

The most efficient way the Resort can accommodate the culinary desires of guests is by ensuring the wait staff is knowledgeable about all the food they serve, and more importantly, all the ingredients. first, they can direct guests to existing alternatives, and then try to accommodate any special orders.

“If a guest sees a certain type of fish, and really wants that fish, but doesn’t want the coating because it contains gluten, sure, we can easily prepare it in a different way,” Dubray said. “That’s how we adapt many of our recipes to make sure they are gluten free.”

The Resort’s restaurants have even added some pasta options that are made without gluten, and is in the process of labeling menu items that are gluten free.

“We like to go the extra mile for our guests and give them the special attention because we care,” Dubray said. ”That’s just what we do here.”


Gluten-Free Spaghetti with Porcini and Shallot Sauce

~Created by Chef Luigi Fineo

Porcini and Shallots Sauce:

  • 1 1/2 cups fresh, sliced porcini mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced shallots
  • 1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • butter
  • salt
  • fresh ground black pepper

Gluten-Free Pasta:

  • 4 cups gluten-free flour
  • 5 egg yolks
  • water, if needed
  • parmesan cheese


1. For the Porcini and Shallots: Place the shallots in a pan and saut. with butter on low heat until you obtain a golden color. Add the porcini and sauté for an additional five minutes. When the porcini reaches a golden brown color, add the wine. let it reduce until dry, stiring gently. Add the chicken stock and cook on medium high until the porcini is completely cooked. Salt and pepper to taste.

2. For the Gluten-Free Pasta: Shape the gluten-free fl our into a crown and add the egg yolks in the middle. Start mixing the flour with the eggs, starting from the middle and working your way out. Work the dough energetically to obtain a smooth and compact finish. If needed, add some water.

Use 1/4 of the dough at a time, keeping the rest covered.

Starting at the edge closest to you, fold a two-to-three inch strip of pasta. Continue to fold the strip until you obtain a fl at roll. Using a sharp knife, cut 1/4″ across the fl at roll to form the width of the spaghetti. gently unroll the dough and place on a lightly floured surface.

Let your spaghetti dry for 15 minutes before cooking. This will allow the noodles to firm and prevent them from sticking.

Bring salted water to a boil and slowly add the pasta. Once cooked, drain pasta and toss into the porcini sauce adding the parmesan. Enjoy!


Flourless Chocolate Cake

~Created by Chef Jeff Lehuede

Flourless Chocolate Cake:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 12 tbsp custard sugar
  • 2 tsp cocoa powder
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 3/4 cups dark chocolate 64%
  • 9 egg whites

Chocolate Icing:

  •  1/2 cup dark chocolate 64%
  •  1/2 butter
  •  8 tbsp powdered sugar
  •  1/2 cup sour cream

1. For the Chocolate Cake: Preheat the oven at 350 F.

Using a paddle attachment, cream the butter and 5 tbsp sugar in a mixing bowl.

Add the cocoa powder and continue to mix.

Stir the egg yolks adding the eggs one-by-one slowly into the mixture.

Add the melted chocolate (make sure it is not too hot).

Whip the egg whites and remaining sugar.

Fold the meringue into the chocolate mixture.

Pour the mixture on 2 half sheet pans lined with parchment paper, bake for 15-20 minutes.

2. For the Chocolate Icing: Melt the chocolate and butter together. Mix in the sieved powdered sugar (do not over mix).

Add in the sour cream and stir with a whisk until smooth and shiny.

Let it cool down at room temperature until you obtain a firm texture.