Last week, I wrote about my trip to the new Carluccio’s restaurant on Eccy Road in Sheffield – see my previous blog post. I had a great time, but subsequently found their disclaimer saying they couldn’t guarantee their food was gluten free. Obviously, this was pretty disappointing, so I sent an email to them asking if they could explain the reason behind it and reassure me that his company’s food was really safe to eat.
I was impressed to receive a personal response from Simon Kossoff, the Chief Executive, somebody who is obviously personally engaged in the business and in touch with his customers, and clearly both cares and understands about the gluten free community. He outlined the reasons for the disclaimer and the challenges faced with producing safe food amongst home made gluten-containing meals. I have reproduced his response below.
The outcome is that based on my feedback, Mr Kossoff has decided to re-engage with Coeliac UK to see if there is a way forward with gaining accreditation.
I really hope this works out and that Carluccio’s are able to get the accreditation they (in my opinion) deserve. They have a great reputation online for their gluten free menu, so they’re clearly getting it right already. But for many Coeliacs, accreditation would provide us with the reassurance we need to eat out safely. We don’t want to be worried that the gluten free menu may not really be gluten free.
Imagine what we as a Coeliac community can achieve by working together to let restaurants know how important this is to us and finding other enlightened business leaders who we can engage with.
Email from Simon Kossoff – 4th February 2015:
Thank you for your e mail and your review of Carluccio’s Eccleshall Road. I have asked my colleague to let you have an image of the restaurant and our logo.
We are proud of our gluten free menu. Of all the things we offer guests it is one that gets the most positive feedback and we agree absolutely with the view you express in other entries on your site that it’s better to have a menu that tells you what you can have then trying to work out from the regular menu what you cant.
Having said that we do face practical issues. The kitchens are small (Eccleshall Road just 60 sq meters) this means we don’t have space for completely separate preparation areas. We also produce most things from scratch in each store including notably homemade pasta and focaccia bread using Italian flour. These things make managing cross contamination more difficult and are the reason for our disclaimer. Having said that we train our teams to use different utensils and of course cook separately (including separate pasta cooking for GF pasta). We also provide detailed information on allergens etc. in our manuals so should they want to our guests can review individual items themselves.
We have also reviewed the idea of accreditation from Coeliac UK meeting with them on a number of occasions. To date the fee they have proposed has frightened us off but as a result of your comments I have decided to engage with them further to see if there is a way forward.
So we have a challenge. We believe its right to offer a menu for coeliacs and we have practices and training in place that we believe are effective in delivering it; nonetheless we face practical issues that we must be honest about, thus our disclaimer.
I hope this helps
GROUP CHIEF EXECUTIVE