Cater for allergies and gluten free? Make my day!

There are a growing number of restaurants, pubs and cafes who are happy and willing to cater for the allergic and gluten free community but we need more.

Just yesterday I met a guy who is opening a freefrom deli and two pubs in my local area – watch this space for more news on this when it breaks. This is proof that there is a gap in the market for this kind of offering. This guy has no allergies and is coming at it from a purely business perspective. He has found a great chef who has the same passions and who sees catering for people with allergies and coeliac disease as a challenge that is actually easy to meet. She said, “Cutting out the ingredients like dairy and gluten actually make cooking simpler, not more complicated. All those dishes you learn to cook when training can be so rich, over complicated and easy to mess up if not done correctly. Cooking without butter for instance has made me create much simpler, healthier and tastier dishes and everyone wants to be healthier these days so it’s a win win situation.”

What a very refreshing viewpoint 🙂

Get your restaurant on the allergen community’s radar – enter the FreeFrom Eating out Awards today!

If you have a food service outlet and would like to tap into this exciting and very interactive and talkative community check out the FreeFrom Eating out Awards 2015.

But listen up… you only have a matter of weeks to enter. Entries close on 28th August so get creative and put your freefrom restaurant on the map.

Now in its second year, the awards seek to reward those establishments who go above and beyond the call of duty in catering for people allergic guests. Understanding what allergens are, cross contamination and how to create great food without certain troublesome ingredients takes great passion and dedication.

FreeFrom Eating Out Awards 2014 winners

FreeFrom Eating Out Awards 2014 winners

You won’t regret entering, I promise, but if you do, watch out for your secret squirrel judges who will be visiting to check out whether your credentials live up to your entry form 😉

Our main holiday this year has been planned around a visit to Summergrove Halls in the Lake District so that my favourite chef, Chris Bridge (pictured above far left) can give me a holiday from cooking freefrom food for myself.

Read my latest Allergy Diary entitled, “Holiday? There is no holiday from allergies” where I bemoan my grief that I cannot just book any holiday and explore any destination. However it is not all doom a gloom, with careful planning, preparation and fantastic chefs who do care, there can be the odd night off from allergies.

Chris was one of the winners last year of the Hotels and B&Bs category when he worked at Ravenstone Manor, which sadly has since decided not to focus on having a gluten free kithcen. It is still open but you won’t get the service, food and care that I received there last year. It is a big shame since Chris had worked wonders getting the place gluten free with dedicated fryers and preparation areas.

Last years winners, The Alford Arms in Frithsden are proof that even smaller independent pubs can stand out and make a difference, but who will win this year?

More about the FreeFrom Eating out Awards

The FreeFrom Eating Out Awards are seeking out the very best in allergen aware food service and are open to any sort of outlet from a street food stall to a five star restaurant or an allergen aware school. Winners will be chosen by a team of independent ‘allergy aware’ judges on incognito visits to shortlisted entrants!

Winners will receive FreeFrom Eating Out Awards winning logos (see below) and coverage on all of our extensive social media sites and those of our partners including the new Can I Eat There? restaurant guide.

The winners will be announced and the presentations made by our patron, Antony Worrall Thompson, at the Food Matters Live event in London on 17th November – after which there will be a ‘cook off’ between the winning chefs from the 2014 awards!

Entering the awards is very simple – and very cheap!

These are the categories:

  1. Cafés & teashops sponsored by Can I Eat there?
  2. Street food, takeaways, deliveries sponsored by Genon Laboratories
  3. Fish & Chip shops sponsored by Glebe Farm Foods
  4. Pubs and pub restaurants sponsored by Green’s Gluten-free Beers
  5. Restaurants sponsored by Riso Gallo
  6. Corporate hospitality and catering sponsored by Nairn’s
  7. Hotels and guest houses sponsored by Caterlyst
  8. Schools, colleges and universities sponsored by Thomas Ridley Foodservice

Headline sponsors for the 2014 and 2015 awards are Sodexo Quality of Life Services.

For more information please contact Michelle Berriedale-Johnson on 020 7722 2866

Notes for Editors:

  • The team behind the FreeFrom Eating Out Awards has worked in ‘freefrom’ for over 20 years. They run one of the web’s largest informational resources for allergy and intolerance, Foodsmatter, with well over a million unique visitors a year.
  • The team is headed up by freefrom expert, food/health writer Michelle Berriedale-Johnson who presents regularly on freefrom and has written over a dozen books on allergy/freefrom food alone.
  • For the last eight years, they have also run extremely successful retail Freefrom Food Awards which have done much to drive innovation and excellence in the retail freefrom offer.
  • The FoodMatters Live event at Excel in November is an exciting new annual event exploring the links between health, food and nutrition – one of the most important challenges of our time.
  • Headline sponsor, Sodexo employs over 35,000 people, and delivers quality of life services to clients at some 2,300 locations in the corporate, healthcare, education, leisure, justice and defence sectors. With an annual turnover of over £1bn, Sodexo delivers a range of services ranging from catering, cleaning, reception to asset management, security, laboratory and grounds maintenance services, enabling clients to focus on their core business.

I can’t wait to see which establishments enter this year and am also looking forward to some secret squirrel judging. It’s getting hard now since my TV appearance and the fame that comes with being a celebrity, I get recognised everywhere…[joking!]

So are you entering? Do you know somewhere that caters brilliantly and should enter? Please spread the word. Tell people about the awards because the more businesses who enter, the more awareness there will be in the eating out community. We need more restaurants and pubs that understand allergens and coeliac disease but we also need all of you to demand the service you deserve.

Don’t be too scared to eat out, ask chefs and restaurant managers if they can cater for you. You’ll know from their responses whether they understand. If we don’t ask, we won’t get! So I’m off now to find a pub in Somerset that can feed me a roast dinner.
The Carew Arms in Crowcombe is a lovely country pub with skittle alley and the old locals bar and separate lounge bar and dining area. They were more than happy to provide me with a simple chicken roast dinner with no butter on my veggies. The roast chicken was cooked just with black pepper and I didn’t have the gravy but the meat was so moist it didn’t matter. I’m used to having roast dinner with the gravy that I don’t even mind. If you’re in Somerset this pub should be able to offer you a few options, though they have no idea which beers are wheat free and don’t stock any bottled ales. Only a minor disappointment.

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About Ruth

Ruth works freelance as a copywriter and writes the What Allergy blog to share information with people who have allergies, eczema, asthma and food intolerances. was voted in the top 5 allergy blogs and Ruth also judges regularly for the FreeFrom Food Awards and FreeFrom Skincare Awards. She also won the Foods You Can People's choice Best FreeFrom blogger award 2014.


  1. I recently spent time at a hospital for an infection. The kitchen staff were terrible with my situation. They had to be informed several times that I had severe restrictions on my diet due to allergies to the parsley family. At one point they made something for me and used Worchestershire Sauce. They told me nothing had caramel coloring in it. I asked them, from my hospital bed, to tell me the ingredients in the sauce. Last ingredient: caramel coloring.

    The dietician treated me with respect and one time offered to make me the sandwich I needed even though the kitchen workers had refused. They told me I could eat what was on the floor in the refrigerator. My nurse told me it was horrible how I was treated.

    One would think in a hospital of all places that dietary restrictions would be easily accommodated. I was shocked. The nurse was shocked. And the dietician was apologetic.

    • I sympathise with you L. I wonder if hospitals are getting on board with allergen regs? Do they have a duty to provide a meal to a very allergic patient? I remember my one stay in hospital with dread. All they could find for me to eat was plain jacket potatoes some iceberg lettuce and occasionally a slice of ham. None of the food was prepared on the premises so staff had very little idea of allergens in the food. This was many years ago so I would hope things were better now but I dread every having to stay in hospital again. They lost 3 cartons of my diary free milk in the space of a week. My mother and husband brought me in food otherwise I’d have starved to death in there and no one would have noticed!


  1. […] Also check out What Allergy’s latest blog “Cater for allergies and gluten free? Make my day!” […]

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