Whether it’s an allergy or a choice, there’s no denying gluten free diets are becoming more prevalent. A recent study by research agency CSIRO found that 12 per cent of the Australian population aren’t eating wheat and/or gluten. And while an estimated 1 in 70 people suffer from coeliac disease, one in four Aussies between the ages of 25 and 34 consume only gluten free meals. Establishments such as The Star Sydney look to create inclusive and versatile dishes that can be slightly altered to cater to each dietary request, instead of serving a gluten free customer a “dietary dish” that’s gluten free, lactose free and vegetarian. “We’re trying to create our dishes around what we feel will be some of those dietary requirements,” says The Star Sydney executive chef Jason Alcock. “It’s just about working together with the client on how we can best be inclusive with our food.
I think that’s going to be a major trend moving forward that chefs, companies and organisations are going to have to work on, is how we can make our menu more inclusive.”
The Star works closely with each of the chefs at its signature restaurants, tapping into their individual skill sets to create menus that cater to all customers.
“[Balla head chef] Gabriele Taddeucci is a prime example, someone who is coeliac and Italian,” he says. “When he found out that was the case he actually wanted to stop being a chef, but instead he looked at it as a challenge and said if I’m going to be coeliac then I have to create the best gluten free food that I can.”
Finding gluten free-friendly restaurants can be a challenge for consumers, particularly when travelling in new places. Online restaurant guide Gluten Free Eating Directory recently relaunched with an upgraded, mobile-friendly website to make it easier for consumers to search for gluten free eateries on the go. Owner and manager Janet Brown says the directory’s point of difference is that it understands the needs of those with coeliac disease and ensures each listing properly caters to gluten free diets.
“Other mainstream restaurant and food ordering websites contain eateries that tick the gluten free box when listing, but this can be hit-and-miss, because they generally only have limited choices and might not be overly careful in their food service, meaning that diners are at risk of consuming food that isn’t strictly gluten free,” she says.
“I’ve personally experienced many instances where eatery staff say their food is gluten free yet, when you unpack the ingredients or preparation, the dishes are at definite risk of containing gluten.”
She says gluten free customers are more likely to dine out if more reliable choices are provided.
“We take our friends, family and work mates with us – a win for us and for these businesses that have us in mind.”