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Kitchen Superstars

Franklin Becker: Gluten-free goes gourmet

In an era of holier than thou chefs who preach the gospel of no substitutions, Franklin Becker stands up for the customer.

“Anybody that is a chef and claims to be higher than thou, is not a chef,” Becker told FoxNews.com. “Our job is to be servants to our guests. If our guest wants a well-done steak, you serve a well-done steak because guess what? They’re paying for it.”

“I’m not necessarily saying that gluten is the devil to everyone but its certainly the devil to enough people out there that it was a logical choice to make The Little Beet gluten free."

- Franklin Becker

While not all chefs would agree, Becker's ready-to-please attitude is translating into a burgeoning business catering to the growing clientele of health-conscious consumers.

Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Becker started cooking as a child, securing work in a professional kitchen when he was just 14 years old. After college, he continued to pursue a culinary education, graduating from The Culinary Institute of America. Becker hit the ground running ,working his way through the hyper-completive New York City restaurant scene working as a private chef, at the restaurants for the Grand Hotel group, and eventually EMM Group’s popular Meatpacking neighborhood eateries CATCH and Abe & Arthur’s.

But as Becker was working his way up the culinary food chain, a surprising diagnosis threatened to halt his career.

“When I was diagnosed with diabetes I was 27 years old and I was really just starting to turn the corner in my career. I was terrified,” Becker said.

But instead of letting a potentially debilitating disease derail his career, Becker used it as an inspiration for developing his personal style of cuisine.

In 2013, Becker opened the first The Little Beet in Manhattan. Like Chipotle, the fast-casual eatery concept allows diners to pick and choose from a selection of proteins, sides like charred kale and quinoa, and more. His goal isn't to try and convert anyone, just to serve food people like, which is reflected his motto: "100% guiltin’ free".  And take it from us, everything we tried was delicious  -- and all 100 percent gluten free.

“I’m not necessarily saying that gluten is the devil to everyone but its certainly the devil to enough people out there that it was a logical choice to make The Little Beet gluten free," he said.

Becker now has seven new East Coast locations of The Little Beet in the works for this year. Last fall, the busy chef opened a sit-down version of his gluten free concept—The Little Beet Table. Everything is still “100% guiltin’ free,” including the cocktails and desserts.

 

Becker isn’t trying to overtly convert fast food lovers. But he hopes that by serving delicious food made with a few substitutes people will recognize that “healthy eating” doesn’t necessarily mean sacrificing taste, texture, or tried and true favorites. 

In addition to simplifying his dishes, Becker emphasizes fats from avocados and fish, and only serves grass-fed, antibiotic-free meats. One of the most ordered items on the menu is a mushroom flatbread. He’s also testing out a rich, dairy-free chocolate pudding that was one of the best things our crew had ever tasted.

“If you come here to dine and you happen to have celiac’s than you can eat the whole menu and don’t have to worry,” said Becker. “But if you come here and dine and you don’t have celiac’s— you can eat the whole menu and leave here saying ‘wow that was a great meal.’”