Italian celebrity chef Giorgio Locatelli today announced the winners of Coeliac UK’s Gluten-free Chef of the Year competition at a presentation at his award-winning London restaurant, Locanda Locatelli.
Launched as part of Coeliac UK’s Food Without Fear campaign, the competition aimed to raise awareness within the industry of the plight of thousands of sufferers who struggle to find restaurants that cater for their specific dietary needs.
Out of hundreds of entries in a contest where the standard of entry was extremely high, judges settled on awarding the title to two chefs – Vanessa Scott of Strattons Hotel in Norfolk (pictured right), and Christine Bailey, a chef trainer and journalist from Reading (pictured left). Their respective recipes of a twice-baked Binham Blue and potato souffl?, and apricot and orange polenta cake secured the women the much-contested title.
Giorgio Locatelli, who was on-hand to judge the dishes, said: “I was extremely impressed with the exceptionally high standard of recipes. Through the innovative use of gluten-free ingredients, a wide range of both sweet and savoury recipes can be created, which are not only tasty but also suitable for people with coeliac disease to eat. Congratulations to all the winners and I hope that more chefs will learn and understand the importance, and gain the aptitude, for providing tasty, interesting gluten-free options on their menus.”
An additional presentation for outstanding achievement was also made to Sophie Haskins, a catering student from Bristol College, for her Oshi Sushi dish.
Coeliac disease affects one in 100 people in the UK, and is an autoimmune condition caused by intolerance to gluten (found in rye, wheat and barley), which damages the gut lining of sufferers when eaten. This can ultimately lead to malnutrition, osteoporosis and bowel cancer, and as there is no cure for the disease, the only treatment is a life-long adherence to a strict gluten-free diet.
According to a survey of Coeliac UK members, 67 per cent said they were less likely to eat out due to the lack of options available to them. The society believes restaurants may be missing out on the market’s lucrative potential by failing to provide gluten-free options on menus.
Sarah Sleet, Chief Executive of Coeliac UK, said: “We know that for people with coeliac disease, eating out on a gluten-free diet can be a miserable experience. Choice is often very limited and the risk of unknowingly eating gluten puts many off eating out altogether.”