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Chef wishes gluten-free trend would die

A Q&A with a Restaurant Alma chef has gluten-free folks fuming.

For celiac sufferers, gluten-free is more than just a trend.

It was a small portion of a Q and A in the St. Paul Pioneer Press that already has gluten free folks fuming today.

Bryan Morcom, chef at Restaurant Alma in Minneapolis, MN, did an interview with Kathie Jenkins, the restaurant critic for the PiPress.  In the article she asks, “What culinary trend do you wish would die?”

He replies in the article,  ”Gluten free is the one that kills me. I’m sympathetic to dietary restrictions, but everything in moderation. We get five or six people coming in each night asking for gluten free.”

Update: I just got off the phone with Alex Roberts, Owner and Executive Chef at Restaurant Alma.  He says they are sorry about the comments that were published in the Pioneer Press.  Roberts says Restaurant Alma is very welcoming of folks with gluten free needs and celiac disease.  ”We have made efforts to educate our staff and increase our gluten free offerings,” Roberts said.  He says they have even changed some recipes to make them more gluten free friendly.

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“Bryan said he carefully told [Kathie Jenkins] that he is truly sympathetic with people who have an issue with gluten,” Roberts said, he added that Bryan was just explaining that he was frustrated with folks who were only eating gluten free because of the food trend and not because it was medically necessary (example: a customer might go to great lengths to get a gluten free meal and then turnaround and eat a gluteny dessert), but he is always happy to help folks with gluten-free needs.

Roberts says they take gluten-free orders “very seriously” and feel that “it is the right thing to do” to have these options at both Restaurant Alma and at sister-restaurant Brasa.  Roberts has issued a statement on this matter and you can read that by clicking here.

Why the celiac community gets frustrated by comments like these

If we folks with celiac disease could do gluten free in moderation we probably would.  One speck of gluten in our systems and we have autoimmune reaction. Regular eating of gluten for us can cause a lifetime of ill health including infertility, anemia, osteoporosis, and cancer.  Not to mention in many cases an immediate reaction like diarrhea or vomiting just to name a few. Want more info on celiac disease? Click here.

The Twin Cities ROCK Facebook page lit up with comments like, “He’s ignorant”, “…I wouldn’t waste my time or money there”.  Folks are also leaving comments on the article itself.

When folks with celiac disease dine out — we bring other people with us.  So that “five or six people” a night  Morcom mentions could realistically be 10-30 people (if we bring friends, dates or family with us) — all of whom now may not choose to dine at Restaurant Alma.

Restaurant Alma hopes you will reconsider, “We want to be inclusive to everyone,” Roberts told me.

This post was written by Amy Leger and posted on the Savvy Celiac. Follow her on Twitter: @AmyLeger.

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