Special diets: Case study

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Gluten, Gluten-free diet, Coeliac disease

If you don't try something, how will you know whether there's a market for it? David and Pam Watts, owners of the King's Head in Leatheringsett,...

If you don't try something, how will you know whether there's a market for it? David and Pam Watts, owners of the King's Head in Leatheringsett, Norfolk, found that they were increasingly being asked for information about food on the menu by customers with a range of dietary needs.

The fact that Pam cooks most dishes on the menu at the pub from scratch meant the King's Head, a former Family Pub of the Year winner at The Publican Awards, was in a stronger position than many to say exactly what was in the food on offer.

David and Pam decided to go one step further and found out all they could about a range of dietary issues, including peanut allergies and coeliac disease, and developed dishes accordingly. The Norfolk freehouse advertises this on its own website and it is also listed on the Coeliac UK website.

Dave says: "At least every other day we have parties coming in to eat, at least one of whom is a coeliac. I still love to see the way their face lights up when we tell them they can have something more than a salad."

A whole lot more, in fact. Gluten-free burgers and sausages are made especially for the pub at the local butcher in Holt and Pam has developed a range of gluten-free ingredients and dishes in house - including a batter.

"People are amazed to be told they can have gluten-free fish and chips or even a full roast dinner," says Dave. This is thanks to the gluten-free gravy made by Pam, as well as the gluten-free Yorkshire puddings she regularly makes in batches and freezes.

Given that most of the food served at the King's Head is fresh, Dave finds himself apologising that some of these specialist items - including home-made desserts - are thawed to order from frozen. That's not something that tends to be an issue for customers who are used to being offered little - if any - choice. "And Pam does make a gluten-free lemon syllabub that she can whip up fresh at a moments notice," says Dave.

The pub also stocks Against the Grain, a wheat-free beer bottled by the Wold Top Brewery of Yorkshire.

The kitchen has a specially labelled deep-fat fryer which is never used to cook products containing gluten, ensuring the pub is always ready.

While some customers needing help with special meals will book ahead, many now arrive unannounced. "Word gets around," believes Dave. "A group of customers will arrive and say 'by the way, one of our party is a coeliac'. We just tell them it's not a problem."

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