I have updated this post from a post from,a few months ago to coincide with Coeliac Awareness Week 2017. There is a revolution taking place!
But there are attitudes that need to change first. Here I look at my own career and previous attitudes before it became personal and relevant.
I was asked for my opinion on food allergies and food intolerances for an article that would appear in the membership magazine for the Craft Guild of Chefs.
The magazine is called ‘Stockpot’. There was also an article by the founder of The Food Allergy Training Consultancy, called ‘Free From Fear’. There is more from them at;
It was published – November/December 2015. Here I share it with you, in its printed form;
‘Food changes everything. It can change our behaviour, our mood, our health. But more importantly food is for everyone. Without exception.
And so attitudes can change too.
30 years ago I began my career in a small hotel. It was probably one of the best in the area at the time and I felt lucky enough to get a job as a commis there. Yet if you were a vegetarian, the best we could offer was a plate of vegetables, literally. And there had to be ten different types. It was a struggle and you always dreaded THAT check! To this day I doubt we ever had anyone with an allergy! Lord help them if one of them had turned up!
I look back to those early days and to be fair, too those days up until at least the last 5 years, and those attitudes hadn’t changed. Folk who came into a restaurant who wanted something different were a pain. ‘What! Seriously! Tell them it’ll take half an hour and I’m not promising anything. Honestly where do these people come from!?’
It stems from a lack of understanding, from a culture of those who perhaps don’t want to know, who are too busy to understand. From others who feel that it’s just a ‘phase’ and it’ll pass and then we can all go back to normal. They are a nuisance to our business and surely if they are that bad, why don’t they stay at home?
And then it all changed for us, life got a little ironic.
Our son Noah who at the time was 18 moths old, began to be quite ill, and whilst on holiday wouldn’t eat. On our return home he would eat, but it he would become violently ill. Distressing would be an understatement. Over the coming weeks, his stomach would look distended – he was malnourished, but not through the lack of food available I might add. Unfortunately, to begin with, the various trips to the surgery amounted to nothing. He began to fall back in his growth development and being so young , couldn’t really tell us what was wrong. Until one day we sought the help of a osteopath, who was able to hint at what might be the cause of the problem. ‘Cut out the gluten…he may have a gluten intolerance…’. We did and practically over night we had our little Noah back. He has since been professionally diagnosed and his annual reviews continue to be positive. But Coeliac Disease is for life and as his parents, we need to monitor that, but as he gets older, he will have to make his own decisions.
So now I see our industry in a different light. One where there are still mountains to climb. One where culturally we have a lot to learn. People are different and we should all understand and cater for these needs as intolerance’s and allergies are here to stay. Everyone has a right to eat out.’