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Chef Damian Cardone stunned many after admitting on his Facebook page that he knowingly fed gluten to patrons who requested gluten-free food. Registered Nurse and Celiac Disease/Gluten Intolerance Educator, Wendy Cohan, wrote a piece regarding the incident including the implications for victims as well as Damian Cardone. Celiac disease and related gluten intolerance affect people around the world. It’s important to note that Celiac disease, gluten intolerance and wheat allergies are similar but different disorders.

Damian Cardone’s remarks, which have since been removed, included a rant expressing that, “Gluten-free is bulls**t.” Andrea over at Foodista has a copy of the rant in full and is researching the validity of Damian’s work history. Supposedly, he has worked for many Hollywood elite like George Clooney and Tom Hanks but there are questions on whether or not this is true. He last worked for the now closed Tavern on the Green in New York City.

Damian’s stunt risked the health of a large group of patrons. It’s also important for chefs to know that there is a growing community of food activists. Many restaurants are developing gluten-free menu items to cater to their needs and gain their patronage. With this little stunt, Mr. Cardone may have taken a dose of culinary hemlock and sealed his fate in the restaurant world.

There are several websites devoted to helping those on gluten-free diets find restaurants that cater to their needs. Gluten Free Registry not only offers an extensive map of gluten-free dining choices but links to their iphone, ipad and android apps as well. The Gluten Free Restaurant Awareness Program works to bring individuals with gluten-free needs together with restaurants. This partnership helps expand the awareness of Celiac disease and gluten-free cooking for restaurant owners and chefs while allowing patrons to promote the dining establishments who offer gluten-free choices.

While some may scoff at the idea of gluten-intolerance as a growing fad diet, it is a widely known and accepted problem with serious health effects. Those with any food allergy must wonder when it’s safe to eat outside of the home.  This chef chose to risk the lives of patrons by deciding their health needs were not valid. The best advice is to call restaurants ahead of time to ask about their gluten-free menu items and get a feel for the restaurant’s knowledge on the issue. Talk to others with similar needs and get their recommendations. As time goes by, more chefs are moving far from Damian’s stance and instead embracing the many options that gluten-free cooking provides.

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