by the lovely Anna from http://www.annajohnston.com.au/
MEET THE INTOLERANT CHEF
Published September 6, 2010 by Anna Johnston
When I meet Chefs, I’m always interested to figure out what’s drawn them to our industry & to complete the hard grueling years serving their apprenticeship. There is usually more than just a love of food that initially inspired them, which also means they’ve got something exciting to share with the world.
Over the last decade food allergies & intolerances have risen to alarming levels & cooking for our customers in this arena is a precise knowledge demanding real skill.
I was fortunate to come across a fabulous Chef, who has a particular interest in special dietary requirements. Rebecca goes by the nom de plume of “The Intolerant Chef” & with a cool name like that of course I was drawn to her! I soon found out the reason for her intolerance stemmed from her own health journey explaining, “Gluten & Lactose are not my friends & I have many chemicals that refuse to tolerate me, and insulin finds me hard to resist”. Despite all this, Rebecca has a super positive attitude & is a healthy, happy person who loves cooking saying “I like to think I’ve risen above the prejudices of a bread & milk filled world”.
I asked Rebecca if she’d be interested in sharing her philosophy with us & she’s so nicely given me the following:
"My food philosophy is to find food that loves you, and love it back.
Foods that love you nourish and embrace you unconditionally. Foods that love you may not initially be the food that you love, but once you have been diagnosed with an allergy or intolerance those indiscriminate days are over. You will learn to be much more discerning in your choices.
I love the quote from The Incredibles movie ‘I never look back darling, it detracts from the now’! There is no point wishing things away, embrace your differences and make them work for you. That is loving it back! Respecting ingredients and getting the most out of them can be an adventure if you let it! Oh, it takes a bit of getting your head around, and there might be a false start or two, but once you begin to see the difference in your health, the difference in your attitude will come too.
There is so much information out there that it’s easy to be overwhelmed. I recommend starting off slow. There are plenty of ‘safe’ options on the supermarket shelves, and remember, meat and veggies are gluten and lactose free. When I entertain, I don’t make anything that I can’t eat. No one can tell, and of course it’s always delicious!
As a chef, it can be hard sometimes to cater to every customer’s needs. There is real empathy for those of us with specific dietary requirements, but it can be ruined by skepticism with so many people jumping on the fad bandwagon. Some establishments are becoming wary of advertising ‘gluten free’ etc, as there is always the possibility of cross contamination. In the same way that some chocolate bars state ’may contain traces of nuts or crustacea’, claiming an item is ‘something free’ opens them up to repercussions if the patron becomes ill, even if it was for another reason than consuming that item.
When you’re eating out, ask questions. A lot of meals on the menu might be suitable for you. Most kitchens will be happy to accommodate your needs if you ask them too, just be specific and the chef will do the rest.
More and more mainstream establishments are catering to our needs. Did you know Domino’s Pizza has gluten free options? Gluten free pasta sits besides its gluten filled brother on the supermarket shelves, and lactose free milk nestles up to its full fat, skim and flavored brethren in the cold section. Integration, not segregation is the way to go!
As I said earlier, embrace your differences. Use this opportunity to be creative and change the world, one-gluten at a time!"