[Profile] Rachael Hunt | GlutenFreedom Week
Rachael Hunt, the creator of the blog GlutenFreedom Toronto hasn’t let her gluten allergy prevent her from enjoying Toronto’s restaurants. In fact, the 26-year old is taking what she’s learned and passing it on to the community. She was motivated to create GlutenFreedom Week, which will take place May 25-31 at 23 different restaurants across Toronto.
What is Gluten Freedom Week?
GlutenFreedom Week is a week-long event where people can enjoy a three-course gluten free meal at a fixed price. It was inspired by Winterlicious and all the other foodie related events in the city.
Why did you decide to plan this event?
I was finding it such a challenge to dine out with my friends and find places I’d be okay to eat at. I always enjoyed attending foodie events that are amazing and delicious, but don’t necessarily cater to the gluten free community. I thought, why not have this event where everyone can come out and enjoy gluten free options.
What is the process of planning the event?
The first little while I’d pitch the idea by explaining to restaurants that the gluten free community is a very profitable and growing market to cater to. After I got restaurants on board, I started reaching out to sponsors to boost the credibility of the event. Now I’m starting to promote, putting out teasers and trying to gage people’s interest.
What kind of restaurants are participating?
I tried to get different neighbourhoods and cuisines involved. Most restaurants are in the west end, where there’s lots of trendy new restaurants. There’s also some uptown, some in the east end, and a handful downtown. It’s a nice mix of different cuisines including Italian, Greek, Mexican, French, Japanese, and Canadian fusion type foods.
I want people to feel like they can dine out multiple times that week and try something new each day. When you think of going out for dinner, you want a nicer restaurant that not only delivers on quality of the food but also on service and experience. I targeted restaurants I felt could deliver on those aspects
What price range will the meals fall under?
$25 – $45
What do you hope to accomplish with Gluten Freedom Week?
I want restaurants to re-evaluate the way they operate in the kitchen in the sense that there are extra steps needed to prepare gluten free foods. I want the experience to be inclusive instead of exclusive. Right now a lot of people suffering from food allergies are scared to have that experience or nervous to dine out. I want to instil that confidence in them and help the restaurant industry achieve that.
Do you want to continue GlutenFreedom Week as an annual event?
Once I’ve got this year’s event under my belt and can demonstrate metrics for some other restaurants who may be on the fence about it, I’m hoping to make it an annual event. I’m also hoping to move it across Canada, do it in Vancouver, Calgary, Montreal, east coast, those big metropolises with great foodie scenes but lack in this food-allergy centered event. Eventually I’m hoping to make it really, really big but I’ll start small for now and see how it goes.
It’s pretty exciting, when I first started I didn’t really know the magnitude of what the event could be. I didn’t really have expectations, but it’s gotten bigger than I thought.
Why did you decide to launch your blog, GlutenFreedom Toronto?
I’m not a blogger. I’m not a food critic, by any means. I started this as a project because I was in a job that I didn’t like. I wanted something that excites me on the side.
I enjoy to dine out with friends in a social setting and explore new restaurants. I found that I was doing a lot of research and seeking restaurants that could cater to me and accommodate my needs. I realized that if I’m wanting to know this information, I’m sure there’s others out there who are looking for the same type of information.
What can your readers expect to find?
I want to inform people where they can dine in the city, what kind of food restaurants offer, also I take it one step further and ask the restaurants what level of cross-contact prevention goes into preparing the meals. Just because food is deemed as gluten free doesn’t mean it hasn’t come into contact with gluten. That’s an element that my readers look for and appreciate that it’s added into the content of the blog.
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