For the past 2 years I have really enjoyed attending the NFCA (National Foundation For Celiac Awareness) Gluten Free Cooking Spree. It was one of the first things I attended soon after I found out I could no longer eat gluten. It had only been 3 months since finding out and I was still on a steep learning curve and in the stage of living a extremely restrictive diet. I had not figured out how to eat out yet and not very comfortable with what I was eating at home.
I’ll never forget entering the event with my very supportive husband and feeling like a kid in a candy store, who had not been allowed to have any candy for years. I first confirmed that everything there was truly gluten free because my brain was having a hard time with that concept. I then grabbed a plate and sampled everything they had set out. I was so stuffed I barely had room to taste the amazing dishes that the competition produced, but I managed. It felt so amazing to be able to just eat and not think so hard about it. It was the beginning of my confidence living gluten free.
This will be the third year for me attending and I cannot wait to see what they do this year. At first, my delight was getting to talk to vendors of gluten free products, people who were writing the magazine I had found and stores like Wegmans who were selling these products. Last year it shifted to learning from the chefs that were there to compete. I watched as they used whole food ingredients to create amazing meals that I got to sample. I talked with them about their restaurants and what they did to insure that guests would receive a gluten free meal, that was safe from cross contamination. They also had an auction and I almost got to bring a chef home to cook a meal for us.
This year, I’m looking forward to talking with as many of the chefs, doctors and reporters that are competing. I want to gather as much information to share on my blog. I also can’t wait to taste what they cook. In past years, there have been chefs from Old Ebbitt Grill, Café Atlantico, Firefly, Jaleo, Lilit Café, Zaytinya, The Flying Avocado, and Hyatt Regency Bethesda (location of event).
The event will take place at the Hyatt Regency Bethesda at 7400 Wisconsin Avenue in Bethesda. You can purchase tickets online through the NFCA and the early bird price is $50 until April 15th. That ticket includes dinner, dessert, and beer (all food items gluten free). You also get a goodie bag filled with treats and information from a variety of gluten free vendors. You can all the NFCA (215)- 325-1306 ext. 101 or check it out online at celiaccentral.com. The event is May 1st, 6:00pm-9:00pm.
I think what you also get is a chance to learn from other attendees. The Celiac and Non-Celiac Gluten Intolerance community is an amazing group of people. Everyone is trying to get and stay healthy and they are very willing to share what they have learned. The NFCA does a great job in getting the word out into the world about Celiac Disease. They have a lot of great information and resources on their website. I’m honored to be listed under their resource links-bloggers. You can even follow the link to doIhaveceliac.org and complete a symptom checklist. You can print this checklist and take it with you to your doctor visit to help with your conversation.
So if you live the gluten free life, live with someone who does, love someone who does or you would like more information about what it all means, join me at the NFCA Gluten Free Cooking Spree. If you plan on going, please let me know. Make sure to say hi if you see me there. I’ll be eating and talking non-stop, just like always.