A Q&A conducted by Pioneer Press food critic Kathie Jenkins with Alma chef Bryan Morcom unearthed a seemingly rich nugget of controversy. When asked about a trend he’d like to see die, Morcom said: “Gluten free is the one that kills me. I’m sympathetic to dietary restrictions, but everything in moderation.”
Morcom’s defense for his apparently callous attitude: He said it within the context of diners claiming to dine gluten-free and then choosing to eat a gluten-rich dessert or bread, according to a statement by Alma published on the site The Savvy Celiac. No reply yet from Jenkins via Twitter or the article itself. [Via David Brauer]
What’s the controversy? A very small percentage of the population has celiac or or other gluten sensitivities. For most though, “gluten free” is just another fad diet.
As another cook, one with a daughter who suffers from a life-threatening food allergy, I’m completely behind Chef Bryan. We push all of our talent and integrity into the food we prepare every hour of every day. The hypocricy and outright dishonesty associated with guest preference over dietary necessity cheapens our efforts as well as the efforts of those whose health issues dictate food restrictions. I’m grateful to guests who communicate their restrictions and ask us to help keep them safe. We always do. For those who’ve jumped the caveman, south beach or atkins train, or who don’t like the way garlic makes them fart, I have no time for that. I wrote a menu for a reason. You came here because there is an implied trust in our ability to create and execute deliciousness, not to cater to your whim of the week or help you project and image. To paraphrase Charles Bukowski, “some people really want to stay home but don’t know how.”
JD, I think you’re spot on. I personally have a terrible shell fish allergy so I can understand the concern on the diners behalf, but unfortunately it’s not reasonable to assume that a restaurant will be able to adequately meet all possible dietary needs and conditions. Ordering a burger without a bun is one thing, but asking a chef to re-engineer a dish to suit your own personal needs is simply unreasonable. I’m currently writing a piece on this topic myself that will examine some of this stuff. Hopefully it will help people on gluten free diets understand why is not exactly OK to say that you have an allergy when you don’t. My guess is that the people causing the problems are people who are uncomfortable saying they’re on a diet so they opt for an “allergy” instead.
Being in the industry, Chef Bryan is absolutley correct in his comments. I will have watresses tell me how large of a fuss a customer will put up about there intolernce to gluten or wheat. But when the desserts are ordered something changes and they forget so quickly what they just were so passionate about earlier in the evening.
I personally belive the main issue is that it sounds alot better to say i am gluten intolerant than I can’t eat bread because im to fat and on a diet. just my two cents
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