As an extremely gluten-sensitive person, I’m lucky to live in a city where practically everyone in the food industry knows what gluten is, and what gluten-free means – but one in a while, I’ll come across something questionable. You may not think it really matters, but little things like using the same knife to cut both regular and gluten-free bread, or having gluten and non-gluten items touch each other can be serious – enough to send someone into an allergic reaction.
When you’re sensitive to certain foods, you can’t be afraid to ask whatever you want – but when all you want to do is enjoy a stress-free meal out, who wants to be the annoying one picking apart a meal with endless questions?
Recently, a group of us congregated at Mehtaphor, the restaurant of executive chef and owner Chef Jehangir Mehta, who created a completely gluten-free four-course dinner for all of us. Joined by Alice Bast, founder and president of the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA), the dinner was meant to promote GREAT Kitchens, an educational initiative for gluten-free training and safety.
Dishes included a foie gras crostini (with store-bought bread – which doesn’t seem ideal, but Mehta stated they felt safer using a gluten-free store-bought bread rather than risking cross-contamination in his restaurant, which also serves gluten items), oysters stuffed with lentil and chickpea puree, spicy fish with dehydrated lentils and bok choy, and an a vanilla custard. What a treat it was to eat a meal (a delicious one!) fully prepared by someone else without having to fret over what could or could not be consumed, and to know that the food was completely uncontaminated by gluten.
I remember when I dropped gluten from my diet almost two years ago, and thinking that being allergic to it was so weird – however, according to stats provided by the NFCA, 58% of college students surveyed identified themselves as having celiac disease. For real? This gluten thing is serious, guys. Lesson here (and my strong personal belief) – do everyone a favor and whether you’re gluten-free or not, educate yourself, treat it like a peanut allergy, and definitely don’t underestimate what gluten could do to someone.
To find out more about going gluten-free, GREAT Kitchens and the Gluten Free Chef’s Table Tour, please visit the GREAT Kitchens website.