For shops looking to go gluten free, Mike and Carol have the following tips:
– Training is key, we put all our staff on the Coeliac UK training course, and we make sure that everyone knows the right procedures. This includes what to do if mistakes happen, which they sometimes do. If someone puts the wrong spoon in the gluten free curry sauce, for example, the staff know to bin it straight away and make another one.
– Join your local coeliac Facebook groups because you can learn a lot from these customers, what they say and what they do and don’t like. Some people don’t like to hear “it should be ok?” They want a 100% guarantee that what you’re about to serve them is safe for them to eat.
– Shops have to bear in mind that if they are using a traditional batter alongside a gluten free one, they are still putting gluten in the air so there is a chance of cross-contamination. If you can, go 100% gluten free as that risk is eliminated straight away.
– Try as many gluten free products as you can. Over the last couple of years, the main suppliers to the fish and chip shop trade have introduced more gluten free items and there is more choice. You’ve got to accept you might not get everything from one supplier, so there is a bit more work to be done in the beginning.
– Try as many batters as you can to find the right one for your business because there are quite a few now. As with traditional batters, different areas will have batters that work for them or that their customers like. So don’t just copy what someone else is using.
– Gluten free products will generally cost you a bit more to buy, but try not to look at the pack cost because per portion it works out to be pennies and, more often than not, the benefits will outweigh that anyway. Our batter, for example, costs more but we’re saving on oil because it doesn’t absorb as much so we’re using less. More importantly, we’re getting a better product.
– Involve yourself in the industry by attending events such as the NFFF meetings, KFE’s Open Days or Women in Fish and Chips. You’ll meet so many other people doing what you’re doing but slightly differently and you’ll get ideas. People will gladly show you around their shops. Everyone will help you.