Gee. Just when you thought things were settling down and the Gluten Free community was getting some respect, a famous chef comes out of the closet with his REAL feelings on the subject.
I won't repost his full condemnation. You can read it at ABC. Or here. Or here.
It's obvious this guy has anger management issues.
But the gist of the post isn't generic anger or irritation. He's not just angry. He's mad enough to do something. And dangerous enough to apparently smile while poisoning anyone with Celiac who walks through his door.
The worst part is...he seems educated. He knows what gluten is. He states that he will reassure gluten free diners that their food is gluten free, and then he will knowingly serve them homemade high-gluten pasta (extra gluten in dough can improve texture), and take their compliments.
What he doesn't realize is that Celiac disease is not anaphylaxis. It doesn't strike immediately. The gluten has to hit the intestines before it does it's damage. And different people react differently.
Some might have no symptoms at all. Some poor bloke could eat weekly at this restaurant, assured that the pasta is gluten free, and die from intestinal cancer. Because of the damage caused by the gluten he unknowingly ingested. Others will have their romantic night out spoiled...just about the time they're settling in for a movie, or bed. Or possibly not until tomorrow morning's early meeting that can't be missed.
Yes, grains have been a part of the human diet for hundreds of years. And Celiac has existed for just as long (there are reports in the Bible of wasting diseases that are suspected cases of Celiac disease. That means it's at least 2000 years old.)
But the sanity of a gluten free diet isn't the question. Any individual in America has the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We have the right to protect our lives the way we see fit. (By pursuing whatever diet...medically proven or fad...that we believe will be most suitable to our needs) We have the right to CHOOSE what we eat. Now, we don't have to choose to eat in restaurants. But, if we do, we have the right to know what exactly they are putting in the food if we choose to ask. And we have the right to pursue happiness. Some chef who has decided that a medical diagnosis of Celiac Disease is ridiculous and therefore derails attempts to live a normal life within the constraints of a medically restricted diet interferes with our right to pursue happiness.
In fact, he could cause irreprable harm. Not just to a person's health (eventually, there is an exposure that you really don't come back all the way from) but to their psyche. If he's assuring a gluten free consumer that they received a gluten free meal, while they are developing symptoms, they will blame the symptoms on something else. Like nerves, or eating out in general (the stress or the airborne particles) or kissing their significant other. A well placed reaction can lead to a fight between even the most understanding of spouses. Just because it's disappointing to have well made plans go astray for bathroom access.
I don't think this man is alone in thinking people following a gluten free diet are "idiots". (liberal hippie idiots, in fact) And that's the real danger. I've seen the poker face that slides over someone's face when I clarify that no, we don't make exceptions for parties. No, we don't make exceptions for really good pizza or really expensive cookies. It's all or nothing for our family. Mr. Violets and Bumblebee eat all the gluten they want outside of the home and ask for no accomodation. Penguin and I eat none. At all. Period.
The reactions are miserable and it sends the wrong message. Some people think the diet is too restrictive. I think that it's only restrictive when there are people we can't trust to respect our choices and physical needs. And statements like the ones made by Chef Cardone make those of us with dietary needs feel that we can't trust others, even ones who seem supportive.