I recently met with Korey Konopasek, owner and Chef of the very gluten-free friendly restaurant Epik Burger on Atlantic Between Kernan and Hodges. While I have been to Epik Burger many times I had yet to meet the mastermind behind the deliciousness. Epik Burger has been open for 4 years and this restaurant is his dream. Before becoming a restaurant owner Korey was Director of Operations for Food Service at the University of North Florida. While at UNF he came across many students with various allergies and knew when he finally opened a restaurant of his own it would need to accommodate a variety of food allergies. He also wanted a place his mom could enjoy- she is living with Celiac Disease.
While talking with Korey he shared that he wanted a place people could come on a regular basis not just on the occasion when they were wanting to splurge on a greasy burger. Epik Burger is also known for their vegan and vegetarian options. While they are not a completely gluten-free establishment, they take extraordinary steps to avoid cross contamination. There is nothing put in the fryers that have gluten in them and they have a separate toaster for the gluten-free buns. They also use separate utensils for gluten-free preparations.
We enjoyed the Vegan BBQ Burger with a side of onion rings and the Epicurean Burger with a side of their truffle fries. Their menu features a variety of flavors that go beyond just a lettuce and tomato topping. Some of the interesting burgers are: PB and Burger, Vietnamese Burger, Fruit and Cheese Burger and the Buffalo Fried Burger. Here is a link to their full menu.
Korey and his wife recently expanded their restaurant offerings and opened Empire City Gastropub nearby.
Meet Korey- Owner and Chef of Epik Burger as well as their new restaurant Empire City Gastropub.
I had the Vegan BBQ Burger with a gluten-free bun which includes BBQ sauce, vegan cheddar, cole slaw and an onion ring. I got it with a side of onion rings because I don’t know anywhere else I can get gluten-free onion rings. They make them with a gluten-free batter and gluten-free beer. They make all of their onion rings this way. The burger was amazing. Loved the chunks of chick peas in the vegan burger and the onion ring gave it a nice crunch. The onion rings have a nice cross between a beer batter and tempura so they are nice and crunchy.
We also tried the Epicurean Burger which is one of their award winning burgers with a side of their truffle fries. It includes Maytag Bleu Cheese-Truffle Mousse, Pancetta, Mushrooms,
Blackberry Jam, Balsamic Mayo, Green Onions and Parmesan Cheese on a gluten-free bun. The flavors are so unique and go so well together. This is an awesome burger!
It was totally worth the splurge! See you soon Epik Burger!
Make sure to not only check out Epik Burger but stop by Empire City Gastropub. They have gluten-free items at Empire City- things like Bi Bim Bap- a tasty korean dish, burgers, shrimp fried rice, salads, and so much more. See their menu here.
Have you been to either? What is your favorite?
I like wine
I like to run
And now I get to combine the two at the Wine and Chocolate 5K in San Marco.
Join 1st Place Sports and Tropical Smoothie Cafe on Saturday April 22nd at 4:30pm in San Marco Square for the Wine and Chocolate 5K. This will be my very first Wine and Chocolate Run and you can’t beat getting a souvenir wine glass and wine and chocolate post race. I am very excited!
It is rare that there is an event that time of day, it should be beautiful and it takes you through the beautiful San Marco Neighborhoods. I haven’t run since the Gate River Run so I am excited for a much shorter run. Check out their Facebook event page for more info.
This blog is sponsored by 1st Place Sports and Tropical Smoothie Cafe. You should try an Acai Berry Boost TM with Acai, pomegranate, banana, blueberries & strawberries.
Are you running?
In honor of March Madness I thought it appropriate to share a Jacksonville Sports Bar that is taking strides to be safe for those with Celiac and other gluten-free allergies, Time Out Sports Grill. Located in a strip mall on Beach Boulevard between San Pablo and Hodges you almost drive right by this place. But once you are inside, there are many large TVs, a game area and a large bar. Almost every time I am here this place is packed and there is some exciting game going on.
The night we were here the Jacksonville Scene Kickball league was there having a great time. I went with my husband and a friend of ours Rita and everyone ordered a gluten-free dish. One of the most exciting things is they have a gluten-free fryer. While eating fried foods every day is not a healthy choice, when watching sports who doesn’t enjoy some wings and fries! In addition to having a dedicated gluten-free fryer they also have gluten-free flat breads that are delicious and gluten-free beer.
If you are in the area and in the mood for a sports bar definitely check this place out!
Have you missed me? I have missed you! Whether you noticed or not I had taken a bit of a break. We all need to get away sometimes to focus on other areas of our life and I am happy to report my little break was to plan my wedding to this man!
On Nov 14, 2015 I married my boyfriend of nine years. It was the best day of my life and I am excited to go from Ms to Mrs! It can’t be easy to love someone with Celiac Disease but he does and he is so supportive.
We got married on the beach at the Sawgrass Country Club and had our reception at the Sawgrass Golf Country Club. While our event was not 100% gluten-free I worked with wonderful vendors that could easily accommodate a gluten-free diet. There can be challenges when you are planning events and need to accommodate dietary restrictions without breaking the bank. For instance, a gluten free cake for 180 people can run you close to $3,000 however if you do regular (gluten-containing) cupcakes and pair it with an 8 inch round gluten-free cake you can spend less than $500!
So here are my gluten free vendor successes:
Cake: Sweet ‘N’ Flour gluten-free and dairy-free marble cake with vanilla bean icing. Tiered cupcakes by Publix in Ponte Vedra, FL at Sawgrass Village these had gluten in them and were a huge hit without breaking the bank. We did a mixture of chocolate and vanilla cupcakes with chocolate and strawberry filling all with white icing shaped like a rose.
Rehearsal dinner catering: Tacolu they do a great job and bring their own decor and it is always a crowd favorite! We had the Carne Asada and Banging Shrimp. Both were gluten-free and corn tortillas were available. Paired with some Margarita’s it was such a festive night!
Bridesmaid luncheon: The Lodge in Ponte Vedra is just beautiful! They can accommodate any dietary needs and their terrace view cannot be beat!
Wedding reception: Sawgrass Golf Country Club we did chicken parmesan for everyone and they were able to make a special dish for those that are gluten-free or have other needs.
We had the best team for our wedding. I seriously loved all of our vendors so much. I highly recommend a day of planner to help you enjoy your day. Other vendors I worked with:
Day of Coordinator: Rhea Harris
Hair: Gerald at True- Blue Hair Studio
Makeup: Kimtasha Pro Makeup Artist
Flowers: Publix Sawgrass Village
Videography: Siberian Pictures, John Wolfe
Photography: Emily Martin Photography
Centerpieces: Rockaway Gardens
Decor: Soulshine Rentals
Ceremony Decor and Rehearsal Dinner: Ambre Goff at Coastal Occasions
Floral: Publix Sawgrass Village Event Planning
Have you had a gluten-free wedding? How did you do it? Who did you work with in the Jacksonville Area?
On Monday April 13 Moxie Kitchen and Cocktails held a gluten-free dinner and it was AWESOME! Flank steak and chimichurri was my favorite (oh and the wine was pretty good too).
I am excited to announce our new sponsor: All Natural Naturally Smart Frozen Desserts. This new product is coming to a store near you. The product is gluten free, higher in protein than other frozen desserts and low in calories.
I am in love with their packaging and while I have yet to try it (I am dairy free and gluten-free), other people seem to be love it it.
I am also impressed by the fact that they like to give back. Most recently they provided free samples to families at the Zombie Chase that benefited the Shannon Miller Foundation.
You can purchase these Naturally Smart Frozen Desserts at the Following Locations:
Dr Capasso’s Thin Centers MD, Mandarin – 10950 San Jose Blvd #41(next to Just Fitness)
Dr Capasso’s Thin Centers MD, Jacksonville Beach – 1351 13th Ave South (across from Beaches Baptist)
Bio Max 299 Atlantic Beach, – 299 Atlantic Blvd #1 (next to Ragtime)
They were featured on News Ch4 with Nikki Kimbleton and will be at the UNF (Student Union) during Market Days from 10-3pm.
Naturally Smart is still looking for local retailers, health food stores, gyms and other outlets to carry their frozen dessert. Want your favorite store to carry Naturally Delicious? Here is a Product Request Form.
Have you tried it? What did you think?
With Halloween just around the corner, finding candies that are safe for those with Celiac disease or gluten allergies can be as challenging as picking a costume. But Sweet Pete’s can help. I was recently in their store and it just made me so happy. There are SO MANY gluten-free options and a lot of gluten-free vegan options too. Their candies are all natural. If you haven’t been there before, the store is located in Springfield close to Shand’s Hospital you can’t miss it. In addition to the store they have multiple classes and a private room to have birthday parties.
Right now they are offering candy corn making classes for 6 year olds and up. In addition, on October 31 and Nov 1st, in honor of Caramel apple day, they will be selling candy apples for only $1.
Here is a taste of just a few of their candy offerings:
I am in love with these Dark Chocolate Marshmallows! They were delicious. I only ordered one and I wish I took the whole plate.
Gluten-free Rocky Road chocolates.
Cocktail pops that taste like adult cocktails.
The dark chocolate graham crackers taste just like the real thing. They also have milk chocolate graham crackers too.
These are their signature sea salt caramels that are to die for. You can taste the sea salt and they are perfectly chewy. They also have vegan sea salt caramels that are good as well, just a lot chewier.
In addition to their store, you can order their candies online and I have seen them at European Street and Mellow Mushroom. Location: 1922 N Pearl St Jacksonville, FL 32206; (904) 376-7161
Now I just have to figure out what to be for Halloween. Here are a few of my favorite costumes from the last couple years. What are you going to be for Halloween?