Thursday, February 13, 2014

How We Started a Journey Down Allergy Free Back Roads

Gosh, is it really almost the 6th year of the Charlotte Gluten & Allergen Free Wellness Event? Time flies by in the blink of an eye! It seems like not that long ago, we were planning the first Charlotte event at Johnson & Wales University with the much needed help of their event staff. I had never even been to a food show, but I had been a hair designer in hair events and figured I could tackle the task.

Charlotte NC Event Team 2009 (L to R:Janet, Decol, Tim Hunt, Nikki Everett, Leah)

The idea for an event originally began when we were discussing an event we had read about that featured the best of what was new in gluten free foods. My daughter was 7 and had been diagnosed with celiac disease. Because of her grief over her dietary change, I chartered and became the Chapter Leader for R.O.C.K.(Raising Our Celiac Kids) Charlotte.

My family remembers me spouting on about how we should have an event in Charlotte for the support groups. The rest is a history spanning six seasons of events from Nebraska, down to Texas, across to Florida and back to North Carolina. It has been a wild and interesting ride that we are now going to be sharing with you.

I have met, spoken with, and worked with some amazing people throughout these past six years of events:
Dr. Fasano & the Center for Celiac Research and Treatment, Carol Kicinski, Jules Shepard, The Lagasse Girls, Chef Peter Reinhart, Chef Peter Pollay, Jennifer Esposito, Mrs. Northwest Brandy Wendler, Robyn Ryberg... There are absolutely hundreds of people I could name that I have worked with and am in awe of their accomplishments.

Raleigh NC Event 2013

People ask us how we differ from other events.
We believe that:

  • Most of the time, the best in gluten/allergen free starts in some small kitchen somewhere. 
  • Supporting local and fresh whenever possible betters our economies and environment. 
  • Scouting out amazing products and companies to showcase their accomplishments keeps raising that bar ever higher. 
  • Supporting people mentally who are going through dietary change is equally important in addition to product knowledge
  • Education and betterment of ourselves through knowledge is a win-win for everyone

In November of 2013, we held an event in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. It was our second attempt to hold an event in Louisiana. The first one was in New Orleans, but I will save that story for another post...

Chicken Orleans (minus the bread for gluten free) at Jasmine's On The Bayou

Before every event, we host a Blogger Dinner Party at a local restaurant that does gluten free right. At the Baton Rouge event, we found ourselves in this tiny little Cajun restaurant, Jasmine's On The Bayou located in a strip mall on a side street. While we ate our Rocket Shrimp appetizer, Jodi Stewart of Know Gluten told me that she thought a blog about our adventures in setting up gluten free events would be interesting.
So, if you love this blog, Jodi is the woman to thank.