* Gluten is a complex of proteins found in wheat, barely, and rye.
The gluten-free market in England has seen huge growth in recent years, reaching £365 million in the beginning of 2015. The boom shows no signs of relenting, with the industry being forecasted to reach £561 million by 2017.
The demand is driven by the increase in people adopting gluten-free diets. Some do this by choice, as gluten has received a lot of negative media in the past few years causing people to want to avoid the protein. Others must follow this diet as a result of coeliac disease, this condition is thought to affect 1% of the population, and causes the immune system to damage the small intestine when gluten is digested.
The hospitality industry is currently losing out on an estimated £100 million by not adhering to these dietary needs, showing that it is no longer a dietary requirement that can be ignored by restaurants. Failing to cater to the gluten intolerant can inhibit customer loyalty, as 29 percent of diners choose not to return to a restaurant that is unable to provide gluten-free meals for members of their party.
Although customers may worry that they are causing inconvenience with their needs, it is now simply par for the course for chefs to provide flexibility in their menu to fit a range of diets. When discussing accommodating gluten-free customers, Chef Bobby Saritsoglou said “we want all diners to feel welcome and comfortable. […] Hospitality is so important. We don’t want any diner to feel like an outsider.”
Before more was known about gluten-free cooking it was generally the reality that gluten-free menu options severely fell behind in taste compared to gluten products. However, in today’s kitchens chefs are able to create gluten free choices that are just as delicious as the other menu items. Many businesses do not opt for a separate menu to meet customer needs, but simply make amendments to their existing dishes, omitting the gluten from dishes or supplementing with gluten-free ingredients.
Although it is not the law to acclimate menus to meet the gluten-free demand, new legislation introduced in 2014 will go some way to ensure gluten intolerant people are able to make a fully informed decision about where is safe for them to eat. This is an incredibly important change, as a 0.002% content of gluten can cause a reaction in a coeliac.
However, as 59 percent of people want to see more gluten free-options on the menu and 21 percent would be willing to pay more for a gluten-free meal, it is definitely in the best interest of establishments to capitalise on this demand!
London’s Best Gluten-Free Restaurants
As most Peruvian food is naturally gluten-free, Ceviche is a buzzing restaurant offering a variety of South American delights and fun cocktails.
A Bombay-style café with an extensive gluten-free menu that doesn’t compromise on the traditional Indian experience.
The menu offers modern breakfast/brunch dishes with plenty of choices, most options becoming available by simply swapping in gluten-free toast.
Another Peruvian restaurant, Andina has a special allergen menu that is full of vibrant flavours for gluten-free foodies.
Although afternoon tea is usually a nightmare of wheat-heavy cakes and bread, Fortnum and Mason offer a lovely selection of gluten-free sandwiches, scones, and macaroons to sample.
The East Asian chain offers a litany of dishes to offer the gluten intolerant.