Did you know that May is Coeliac Awareness Month? Maybe not. But we know you’re busy hustling in the kitchen with orders, staff management, prep and not to mention service as pre-COVID crowds return to venues. We don’t blame you. But we wouldn’t want you to miss out on the opportunity.
The aim of Coeliac Awareness Month is to raise awareness about Australia’s relatively low coeliac disease diagnosis rate. It’s hard to believe but an estimated 80% of people with coeliac disease don’t even know they have it. Early diagnosis reduces the risk of long term health complications.
Now we know that gluten free dining has certainly seen an increase in popularity (for better or worse) in the past decade. But it is important to note the difference between coeliac disease and people who have made a lifestyle decision to avoid gluten.
Of course, both are to be treated with respect when ordering, but there are some extra precautions you should put in place to be sure that all your diners can be confident in what they are ordering.
If you haven’t already created systems for gluten free dining in your venue, use Coeliac Awareness Month as a kick starter with your staff. Here are a few easy actions you can take to make your menu and venue more inclusive:
Educate Wait Staff:
Your staff probably have a pretty good idea of what is and isn’t gluten free on your menu – but customers will often ask if something can be made into a gluten free dish. Encourage your employees to confirm with the diner if they are coeliac, before checking with the chef, as this may change the way the dish is made completely (not just removing the gluten-containing ingredient).
Designate a GF Fryer:
Not all kitchens have this luxury, but many venues are designating an entire fryer for gluten free orders so that coeliac diners can continue to enjoy everything without the fear of cross-contamination. Tell a coeliac your chips are fried in a gluten-free fryer and watch their eyes light up!
Create a GF-friendly Menu:
Most venues have a lot of gluten free options but don’t call them out on their menus. Having menu items marked ‘GF’ not only saves your wait staff from questions, but also makes coeliac diners feel welcomed. If you have your menu published online, this is something you should definitely consider as many coeliac diners will check the menu before booking. If they can’t see obvious GF options you will lose their whole dining party (not just them!), so it is worth making an effort.
Invest in GF products your customers actually want:
Many venues try to ‘keep things simple’ by stocking only one option in gluten free breads. While this was a savvy option when gluten free was a fledgling concept, with more quality gluten free breads on the market, and consumer demand for choice growing, it makes commercial sense to have a variety of gluten free bread options on hand.
In fact, our research has shown that Abbott’s Bakery Gluten Free Mixed Seeds and Gluten Free Soy & Linseed varieties are #1 and #2 in retail stores (more popular than Gluten Free Rustic White). It seems that many consumers prefer the taste and are looking for more wholesome options, something to keep in mind when you’re next ordering stock.
Gluten free dining is certainly not a new concept, but if you’re yet to put systems in place for coeliac diners, perhaps now is the time? If you need help choosing the right gluten free products for your venue, get in touch via our website.