Back to Grass Roots
Following our article last month which looked at the seemingly divergent views about FreeFrom customer, we found a variety of positive examples which demonstrate a much deeper understanding of FreeFrom dining.
There is no doubt that food, like many other industries, suffers at the hands of fashion. From nouvelle cuisine, vegetarian or vegan, to foraging or raw food diets, deconstructed meals to new cultural influences. All of which were thought to be a crazy fad at one time or another but become mainstream and the norm eventually.
However, one trend which has not helped the consumer in the long term is convenience and mass production.
Noel Roche, freelance chef/chef consultant recognises that after decades of processed and mass produced food stuffs, it is not surprising that our bodies havebecome intolerant and developed allergic responses to every day. Over the years’ little consideration has been paid to the long term health implications of using ingredients like bleached flour, unnatural food additives and milk protein injected into meats, foods.
Noel also recognises that cultural and genetic factors also influence an individual’s tolerance to certain foodstuffs. Take lactose intolerance for example, in the UK it is more common in Asian or African-Caribbean descent. This may be because people from places where there has historically been no ready access to milk, such as Africa or east Asia, the ability to digest lactose didn’t evolve as there was no significant benefit in being able to do so.
Is it really fair therefore to consider a customer as simply ‘fussy’ or ‘attention seeking’?
However, like Noel, there are a growing number of catering professionals who view this as an opportunity to create something new and individual and get back to grass roots cooking skills, using grass roots ingredients, thus avoiding the concerns about being able to cater for the non-standard diner.
It doesn’t get much more grass roots than providing catering professionals with the skills and understanding required than whilst they are still at catering college.
Richard Carter, Lecturer of Hospitality and Catering at Eastleigh College has recently run an entirely gluten free event for a local Coeliac UK group attending the training restaurant.
In addition to an allergen workshop that the students received, something which established chefs may not get access to, the students received special emphasis on what and why they were producing an entirely gluten free menu.
Richard explained that the students were extremely keen on the event. “The students realise the importance of allergy awareness and were excited to see what menu they could produce” as well as how to overcome the challenges to come up with new menu ideas or how to adapt existing items.
Such “events give the students something different, something challenging and gives the students a real sense of achievement”.
With the next generation of chefs and catering professionals embracing the considerations that need to be made for the emerging variety of dining requirements, Noel believes “as chefs we need to look further than allergens and intolerances being an inconvenience, but as our cultures intertwine, we must adapt our thinking and gain the knowledge to adapt our recipes accordingly”