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The challenge of providing a gluten free menu

The demand for gluten-free items on the menus of Australian hospitality businesses has increased dramatically in recent times, with the organisation Coeliac Australia estimating that around one million Aussies are currently following a gluten-free diet.

It is a challenge for restauranteurs and foodservice operators to develop dishes that excite the customer beyond the stock standard steak and salad offering.

Despite this, there is still a great deal of confusion within the industry as to what the term 'gluten-free' encompasses and how to best prepare and store gluten-free products.

This confusion has resulted in Coeliac Australia developing the Gluten Free Accreditation Programme. The standard, which is still in the testing phase, comprises three main components :

  • Source : ensure that all ingredients and inputs are free from gluten
  • Menu : ensure that everything on the plate is free from gluten and that all equipment and ingredients used are stored and prepared separately
  • Communication : ensure clear lines of communication from the kitchen to the floor to prevent any potential preparation or serving issues

Cathy Di Bella, project officer at Coeliac Australia, says that the combination of visibility, traceability and education at all levels are key to catering to the gluten-free market.

"At the end of the day having all your staff trained is so important. If you've got a chef that is really clued in and they have everything out the back right, and then you've got a customer that's asking someone front of house about their gluten-free offering and they say, 'we can do something without potatoes, or we can do something without rice,' you think, 'they've got no clue,' so it's about education throughout the whole establishment; it's not just the chefs that need to be involved."

For chefs, being able to manage a kitchen and cater to the needs of either reduced gluten or gluten-free is a real challenge. It is not as simple as having a gluten-free product, it is about ensuring that the product stays gluten-free throughout the cooking process, and how those ingredients and products are handled next to those that contain gluten and that is not easy.

 

Source  :  Hospitality Magazine, 17 August 2015