Ingredients supplier Ceres has teamed up with chef Phil Vickery to launch its first gluten free batter mix and help fish and chip shop operators cater for the growing number of people diagnosed with coeliac disease.
The Seriously Good Gluten Free Natural Batter Mix combines seven different flours to create a product that is as close to Ceres’s traditional batter mix while being gluten free.
Taking two years to develop, the mix opens up a whole new opportunity for fish and chip shops, which can now cater for customers with a gluten intolerance and tap into a market estimated to be worth £100million last year and growing. The mix is also 100% allergen free, which means friers have added peace of mind they are meeting current allergen regulations.
Launching The Seriously Good Gluten Free Natural Batter Mix at Olley’s Fish Experience in London on Monday, Ceres MD Stelios Theocharous said: “At present coeliacs have relatively little choice when eating out and, for many, fish and chips is off the menu altogether. We wanted to change this so that everyone can enjoy our great British dish regardless of their food intolerances.”
Pictured above (L-R): Ceres MD Stelios Theocharous, singer and coeliac Nina Schofield, and chef Phil Vickery
Pairing up with Phil Vickery seemed like an obvious decision with the TV chef not only Food Ambassador for Coeliac UK, but also having written several gluten free recipe books and developed a range of gluten free baking mixes. With the help of Phil’s food and nutrition specialist, Bea Harling, the trio has worked tirelessly to get the product right, as Stelios explains.
“We’ve done a lot of testing to get the batter right because we wanted to ensure coeliacs didn’t get an inferior product. The risk when developing a gluten free batter mix is that the end product can be crunchy rather than crispy and, because of the lack of gluten, which is what holds it together, the batter can split. So we nailed that straight away. The batter mix is slightly yellower in colour than our natural mix, but apart from that it offers the same consistent, natural looking and delicious results every time.”
Commenting on his involvement. Phil Vickery says: “When I first started looking at gluten free there were very few products out there and those that were available were frankly awful. But we are slowly getting past that, and with the introduction of our new batter mix we are giving coeliacs a choice. What people have to understand is that gluten free is not a fad. Coeliac diseases is a very serious and debilitating disease.”
Attracting new customers
With most coeliac sufferers determining where they and their party eat, Phil believes offering a safe gluten free offering is key in attracting new customers, adding: “If I were gluten intolerant I wouldn't trust anyone, but if I come and have fish and chips and it’s good, then I’m going to tell ten of my friends and they will return with their family and their friends.”
Witnessing the growth of this market is Des Anastasiou, owner of Burton Road Chippy in Lincoln, who has been trialing The Seriously Good Gluten Free Natural Batter Mix for several months. He comments: “We have a gluten free day once a month and when it started we were serving perhaps ten a day. Now we are serving up to 200 a day and it has become as busy as a Friday. What you have to remember is that it’s never a whole party of coeliacs that come in. It’s always one in a party of four, or two in a party of eight, so it brings in a lot of additional customers.”
Talking about The Seriously Good Gluten Free Natural Batter Mix, Des adds: “The batter is really light and crispy and our customers can’t tell the difference and that’s the important thing, because we wanted a batter that was as close to what we were using so that coeliacs could be reassured they were enjoying what everyone else was. And people really do appreciate it; our guest book is full of comments saying how it's been so good to have fish and chips after 10 or 15 years.”
Nick Damurakis, owner of Athena’s Fish & Chips in Bexhill-on-Sea in East Sussex, has also been trialing the gluten free batter and he too has seen the postive effect of having a gluten free offering. He comments: “We had a family come in recently and the mum and daughter had gluten free while the dad and son had normal fish and chips. They said they had not eaten fish and chips for seven years, so it’s proving a really great way to bond with new customers. And they left us a really nice review on Facebook which helps to spread the word to others.”
Available in a 2.5kg tub with a red lid to clearly denote its gluten free credentials, The Seriously Good Gluten Free Natural Batter Mix is not only ideal for battering fish, but can be used in conjunction with a host of gluten free products including fishcakes and sausages to create a dedicated gluten free menu.
The Seriously Good Gluten Free Natural Batter is pending accreditation from Coeliac UK and will soon be followed up by further products including gluten free chip shop curry sauce and a gravy.
Coeliac disease is a lifelong disease where a person has an adverse reaction to gluten, triggering a range of symptoms, such as diarrhoea to abdominal pain. It is estimated to affect 1 in every 100 people and the only treatment is to follow a gluten free diet for life.
Ceres 0845 3711 522 www.worldofceres.com