Edan Cohen is the manager of 3 Potato 4, a 100 percent gluten-free, vegan, nut-free and non-GMO restaurant in Pleasanton, Calif. The restaurant creates, “comfort food gone healthy.” Today, he’s talking to us about fries, sauces, ice cream and how he uses Nima to verify gluten-free ingredients.
Hi Edan! Can you share a little bit about 3 Potato 4?
3 Potato 4 creates a safe environment for kids who have food intolerances and allergies.
We host a lot of kids’ birthday parties here for children who can’t eat dairy, gluten and nuts. That’s the mission of the restaurant.
What is your food identity?
I’m allergic to mushrooms, so I understand how hard it can be to eat at a restaurant.
I try to avoid gluten because it makes me feel heavy. Sometimes people think avoiding gluten is just a fad and it’s a problem. People with intolerances and celiac get sick when they eat gluten. I think there should be more guidelines and training about food intolerances and allergies for restaurants.
What drew you to work at 3 Potato 4?
Definitely the mission of the restaurant. Being able to have a safe place for kids to eat that’s 100 percent dairy-, nut- and gluten-free is great. Also, we are biodynamic and don’t produce any waste. Everything is either biodegradable or compostable. It’s a very noble goal to have, especially for our environment. It’s the future of restaurants because we have limited resources.
We’re also involved with the community. We’ve joined fundraisers for animal rescue efforts for those affected by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. We work with local vegan groups, animal shelters and celiac support groups. That’s how we learned about Nima. I got excited because the sensor is so small and can help people on the go.
How do you use Nima in your kitchens?
We use it to test new ingredients and items in the menu. We’re known for making a lot of crazy sauces. [Some of their made-in-house dipping sauces include pineapple habanero, Thai aioli and aloha BBQ.] We were introducing a new sauce, and we tested the spices with Nima. One of them came up with gluten so we didn’t use it.
With Nima, we get fast results, which is great. This makes the process of adding more items to the menu be really easy on us. Nima makes my life and job easier. I can focus more on finding vendors.
I’m excited about future sensors, including the peanut one.
Do you talk about Nima with customers?
If a customer says he or she has celiac, I show them how Nima works, how easy it is and I talk to them about it. They’re usually intrigued by Nima because it can improve their lifestyle and they can test food on the spot. You get your answer in a few minutes. The goal is for it to be easy.
What’s the most surprising item on your menu?
Our baked fries with the vegan cheese. Vegan food can be awesome, and we love to see non-vegans love the food. It’s great when they don’t realize it’s vegan and they are so surprised that vegan cheese can taste so good. Vegan food has come such a long way and we just want to bring it everywhere.
What’s the best part of your job?
When customers will walk in, look around, see that everything is vegan and gluten-free and they feel overwhelmed and confused because they can choose anything and everything. They’re not limited by the menu and that’s always fun to see.
We usually have to tell our customers a few times that the whole menu is vegan, gluten-free and nut-free. It’s all safe for them to eat.
Do you have a favorite story?
One customer told me that her 18-year-old daughter had never had ice cream. She ate our vegan ice cream and her daughter loved it so much that she needed to thank me.
What’s the most popular item on your menu?
Our ice cream. Some people think it tastes better than regular ice cream. We also have gluten-free cones. We have some families that come in twice a week just for ice cream.
Do you have anything else you’d like to share?
Thanks, Edan! If you’re in the Pleasanton area, definitely check out 3 Potato 4.
Read more Nima community stories in our Breaking Bread series.