By Estelle Artois
It’s no surprise that Melbourne has arguably one of the most diverse food cultures in all of Victoria (and maybe even Australia). Food culture and food trends seem to come and go the same way as fashion trends or street slang. It also helps that Melbourne has become really bloody good at catering to pretty much every kind of dietary requirement or food intolerance.
Whether you consider yourself Gluten Free, Vegetarian, Vegan, Halal, Lacto-Ovo-Vegetarian, Pescetarian, Coeliac or Paleo, Melbourne can feed you all!
Now I’m not sure if it’s just me, but I’ve clocked my fair share of hours in the hospitality circuit and found myself witnessing the transition of people’s reactions and personal sentiments toward gluten free products from the general customer consensus starting at “Ew, it costs more and has no flavour!” to “Look, I’m not really intolerant but I prefer eating Gluten Free,” to “I love this place! Everything is Gluten Free!” As a result, it seems almost everywhere you go you will find a Gluten Free option on the menu.
Why and how did this happen you may wonder? I’ve wondered the same thing. How is it one minute when we go out for food we’re content with a good pasta dish or the fish of the day or a hearty steak and chips or your classic parmigiana? It’s like we blinked a couple of times and now every second place is offering gluten free products served as pretty as a picture and decorated with edible flowers and a good sprinkling of quinoa to really bring you back to nature.
I’m not necessarily complaining, because good food is good food, and good food that is also pretty has to have some kind of tick of approval, usually in the form of subtly snapping a photo for our Instagram accounts before gorging away. (We’ve all been there. This is Melbourne).
I don’t have a science background and I’m not about to spark a debate about the how’s and why’s and the research show’s etc., when it comes to Gluten Free products. I’m only interested in food that tastes good. If you can give me something that tastes good and is also good for me, then shut up and take my money!
Certain new trends take time and grooming as well as various trialing by error to perfect, and I’m here to argue that Gluten Free products have become more popular even amongst consumers who don’t suffer any intolerances prohibiting them from wheat-based products, and have become more common and easier to find because food providers are getting better and smarter at using them and creating foods that taste amazing.
“Outside of celiac disease there seems to be more and more people choosing gluten free or lower gluten diets,” says head chef Bryce from the restaurant Transformer, located in Fitzroy. “This is definitely evident in the ordering patterns seen at Transformer.”
Transformer is located in a warehouse on 99 Rose St Fitzroy and offers a gourmet-filled menu that is according to their website “Vegan, Gluten Free and Fructose-friendly”.
I asked the staff at the restaurant if they were willing to comment on why they believe consumers are choosing non-gluten items over gluten items for their health benefits and Bryce the head chef had the following to say:
“Although gluten sensitivity isn’t as easy to medically diagnose as Celiac I think it is important for people to listen to their bodies. Gastrointestinal health is incredibly important and if people are finding better digestion through reducing gluten and wheat in their diets it’s probably a good thing, as long as diets are being adjusted for nutrient deficiencies that can occur in gluten free living.”
If you’re curious about a Gluten Free cuisine or if you have been sticking by a Gluten Free lifestyle for years, I urge you to head down to Transformer (as well as several other food halls listed below) and sample some amazing food prepared by Bryce and his team at an affordable price, full of flavour and low on wheat. You may like it, you may not, but the point is that we are incredibly spoilt for choice when it comes to filling our bellies and it never hurts to try something new.
Below are some of my personal recommendations regarding gluten free products of different kinds and were you can go to find them and try them for yourself.
If you genuinely suffer from a food intolerance that restricts you from eating anything with wheat in it, then I invite you to regard the list below as your guide to some of the best cafes and restaurants in the northern suburbs I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing that cater to your needs.
If you’re one of those people who has noticed that staying away from wheat has had a positive effect on their overall bloatedness, then by all means, keep it up with your convictions and I urge you to head out and sample some of the various yummy nom-noms available at your doorstep (maybe start with a few of the recommendations below).
If you’re incredibly cynical about everything relating to this topic and have done your own research and think gluten intolerance is a fad and there’s no research to prove wheat is bad for you and you just really love your bread, then I urge you to use this article as a chance to widen your culinary horizons (you’ve made it this far through reading) and visit new places with different menus, and below are a couple of suggestions to get you started.
Author’s Recommendations for GF products:
Transformer, Fitzroy (Restaurant)
- Try their Indian crumpets
- From their Gluten Free menu, try the Leveson Paella (made with Saffron Rice)
- Try their smashed pumpkin and poached egg breakfast
- Enjoy all your favourite pasta dishes and pizza varieties with gluten free pasta or on gluten free pizza bases
- Try their chipotle potato gourmet pizza
- Your one-stop-shop to everything organic, cruelty free and of course, gluten free
Feature Image: Transformer Fitzroy Instagram: Indian Crumpets