The head chef at Best Western’s The Connaught Hotel in Bournemouth has developed a new menu designed especially for coeliac sufferers after discovering his young son has the disease.
Paul James, head chef at Blakes three AA rosette restaurant at the hotel decided it was time to give coeliac sufferers a place to eat out in Bournemouth, after his son, now four, was diagnosed with the disease at the age of two.
“My aim is to produce dishes that look and taste as similar as possible to a ‘normal’ diet so that people with coeliac disease aren’t singled out,” he said. “I use gluten free and substitute ingredients to create dishes that aren’t obviously ‘gluten free’. My speciality is the sweet menu as gluten free puddings are often bland and unimaginative and this needn’t be the case.”
People suffering from coeliac disease are restricted to eating gluten-free dishes, cutting out all wheat, barley, rye and sometimes oats from their diet. If eaten, the gluten triggers the body’s immune system to attack its own tissue, resulting in significant damage to the lining of the gut. It is estimated that there are one in 100 people living with the disease in the UK.
The Blakes menu, which also caters for diabetics and lactose intolerance, now has a range of dishes developed especially for coeliacs, including Ham Hock & Confit Chicken Terrine, served with a Red Onion Chutney; Chicken Forestier, served with a Bacon mash, Asparagus Spears, Carrots and Wild Mushrooms; and Bread and Butter Pudding with a Vanilla Cream and Berries.
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.