Since last Saturday’s furore over coeliac chef Anthony Demetre’s comments about how he manages his condition, the following statements have recently been made. One from Anthony Demetre, via his agent, although she hasn’t responded to my own email as yet, and the other from the BBC, via Coeliac UK.
I am a coeliac and like others, I need to control my intake of gluten. My understanding of this disease is that different people have different levels of tolerance, and I am one of the “lucky” ones who can succumb to a craving for pasta or the occasional croissant, once in a blue moon. This is how I personally deal with my condition, and I now regret sharing this private information on Saturday Kitchen as a few individuals have said they found it misleading about the disease itself. My remarks were never made to cause offence, offend or belittle, in fact quite the opposite. My intention was to produce a gluten-free dish that would be delicious and achievable by the viewer. I strive in all my restaurants to produce food which accommodates coeliacs, enabling my employees to understand the disease. The way I deal with my disease is my choice and my comments were not intended as advice. I apologise for causing any offence, and for being perceived as handing out bad advice, or for allegedly underplaying the seriousness of this condition. As a chef, I believe that coeliacs can enjoy a vast range of good flavours and foods, and I will continue to strive to serve superb gluten free dishes in all my restaurants.”
You can also read this Statement from Anthony Demetre on his agent’s website.
Saturday Kitchen have also responded to the Coeliac UK society after lengthy discussion between them and programme producers at the BBC.
Update on Saturday Kitchen
The following comments made by Anthony Demetre, a chef with coeliac disease, about the way he manages his condition, we have spoken at length with the makers of the programme.
“While they understand that the comments could be misconstrued as the norm for people with coeliac disease, they have stressed that Mr Demetre’s comments were very personal and referred only to the way he managed his condition. A strict gluten-free diet is the only treatment for people with coeliac disease and wavering from this demonstrates just how difficult maintaining the diet can be, even for those with first rate culinary skills.
We have offered to work with the programme in the future and tried to get in touch with Anthony Demetre to express our concern and work with him.
For all of you who complained to the BBC, thank you for making your voices heard.”
You can read his statement on the Coeliac UK website here. I haven’t yet received a response from the letter I sent last week.
How do you feel about this? Do you feel that these statements are a sufficient response to the situation?
I feel a bit sorry to Anthony now. I truly don’t think he meant to cause any offence, nor did he mean to mislead. I have learnt something too; I hadn’t realised someone with coeliac disease could binge in this way. However this is what makes allergies so confusing.
I have a friend who says she has a dairy allergy, yet she will eat pudding in a restaurant, having ordered her main meal with the same diligence as me. She really has an intolerance since she can eat the pudding, but has to abstain for weeks to be able to do this. No wonder waiters, waitresses and chefs get confused when people say they have an allergy and then behave like that. I would be so ill if I had just a mouthful, no correction, the tip of a mouthful of pudding. Even tiny tiny traces make me ill, but I have delayed reaction, so a restaurant might not know I had a problem. However I’ll wake in the night with the sweats, skin splitting open, blisters, heat rash all over me and clear liquid ooozing out. Needless to say I look a state in the morning. Skin purple, bruised, split and cut like I’ve been in a fight.
Allergies are just so complex. We need to raise awareness, but since we are so very different it’s incredibly hard to do. It seems allergies and coeliac disease are not quite so cut and dried as I had thought. Are you a coeliac who can binge? Or do you have to cut out even the tiniest crumb? Let’s have a heated debate!