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Busting the myths about gluten-free cooking

Food & Wine Events

Gluten-free food, once considered a bland substitute for ‘fussy’ people, doesn’t have to skimp on taste or quality, according to a dietary requirement caterer hosting workshops at this month’s Tasting Australia.

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“Gluten-free doesn’t mean cardboard,” Just Gluten Free owner Sabine de Vuono says.

“Gluten-free can be exciting, [it] can be really good food and a really nice dinner.”

The passionate foodie and gluten-intolerant cook will host a series of “Gluten Free Italian Style” cooking workshops across four days as part of Tasting Australia. During each workshop guests will prepare an easy-to-make gluten-free meal using ingredients sourced from the Adelaide Showground Famers’ Market.

Dishes will be inspired by de Vuono’s Italian heritage and will include gramigna pasta with sausage, tigelle (round bread) with cured meats, almond cake, finger food and hand-made pizza.

“It’s important to have an event at Tasting Australia to show that there is a face for people who are gluten-free,” de Vuono says.

The key message of the workshops is that “what you eat at the end is good, delicious food”, regardless of the fact that it is catering for those with a food intolerance.

As part of the workshop program, de Vuono will dedicate one of her classes to the FODMAP diet, a new and complex dietary program developed out of Melbourne for people who suffer IBS and other gut-related problems. The diet cuts out a variety of foods including garlic, onion, many fruits and lactose.

“[There are] a lot of foods that you can’t have and that’s why I’m trying to develop recipes for people who have that diet because there is not much around.

“Whenever I’m doing the FODMAP cooking it’s always fully booked straight away because people [on the FODMAP diet] don’t have the choice; not many other places cater for FODMAP.

“Despite this, once you know what to do it is possible to create really good foods that everyone will eat.”

When de Vuono arrived in Australia from Italy 11 years ago she says many people didn’t understand or acknowledge the importance of catering for people’s dietary needs.

Since then she has witnessed a changed attitude towards food intolerances in Australia.

“A lot of people thought that people with intolerances were fussy.

“They put people who are vegan or with intolerances on the same table even though they are completely separate things.”

Now, she says, people are starting to talk more about food intolerances – “there’s more information and more acknowledgement around”.

Despite this, de Vuono believes there still exists the perception that gluten-free food is bland and unappetising.

“Every time I say to somebody, ‘This is gluten-free’, people say ‘No thank you’ and I say ‘What do you mean no thank you? Why don’t you just try?’

“That, unfortunately, is the mentality but gluten-free food is just as good as other food if not better.”

Tasting Australia director Simon Bryant says it’s important to understand people’s motivations when catering for specific food requirements.

“I think home cooks should embrace the opportunity to think outside the box and try something new,” he says.

“Sharing a meal is about connecting and it’s always best when people feel comfortable and part of the experience.”

Sabine de Vuono will host her Gluten Free Italian Style workshops from April 17 to 20 at the Just Gluten Free kitchen in West Richmond as part of this year’s Tasting Australia festival. Further information is available here.

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