Eating out when you have a food allergy or intolerance is tricky enough for one, so imagine how difficult it can be when trying to date someone with a totally different set of intolerances. That’s what happened to Christina Glentis and Luke Lucas after they met on Tinder and started going out.
“One of the things we bonded over is our shared intolerances,” says Lucas. “I have irritable bowel syndrome and Chrissy has fructose malabsorption and lactose intolerance. It’s not usually the kind of stuff you bond over when you start dating someone, but for us, it worked.”
In 2015, the couple launched an online store selling gluten-free and low-FODMAP cookies, brownies and protein balls. A few months later, they were opening a cafe in Albert Park, which moved to Camberwell earlier this year.
“There weren't that many options for us when we went out. You always have to be that person who is like ‘Can I get this but not this? Can I change this and swap that?’. It was a massive ordeal. We wanted to make a place where people wouldn’t have to worry,” says Glentis.
Foddies – a play on the words “foodie” and “FODMAP” – looks like any other trendy Melbourne cafe with pastries behind glass, greenery and a menu spanning from bubble waffles to shakshuka. But everything on that menu is gluten-free and low-FODMAP, and many dishes are also dairy, nut, egg or soy-free. “But not flavour-free,” assures Glentis.
You always have to be that person who is like ‘Can I get this but not this? Can I change this and swap that?’. It was a massive ordeal. We wanted to make a place where people wouldn’t have to worry,”
Their chicken parma (with homemade breadcrumbs), pulled-beef burger and doughnuts, which usually would be off-limits for many people with food allergies, are especially popular. “Our doughnuts are quite extravagant. We make everything ourselves. For the lemon meringue doughnut, for example, we make the dough, the lemon curd and the meringue,” says Glentis.
More and more restaurants, especially in Melbourne, list gluten-free and allergy-friendly options on their menu. But even if they mean well, these places don’t always know about cross-contamination or what ingredient to look out for. Foods like ham, pickles and even artisanal salt can contain traces of gluten, which can make a coeliac person very sick.
The team at Foddies is extremely meticulous, making a lot of elements from scratch, and going through the list of every ingredient they use to make sure they don’t contain allergens. Because Glentis and Lucas want everybody to feel welcome, they offer regular bread, but it’s handled with different equipment, in a separate part of the kitchen.
Their online store has grown a lot since 2015, and they now have stockists in several states for their frozen meals, sauces and spice mixes. If you live in Melbourne, meals like pork and chives dumplings, Mongolian beef and Thai green chicken curry can be delivered to your door. “Our customers can have a food solution all the time, whether they’re home or out,” says Lucas.
The feedback from their customers has been heart-warming. “Some people scream with excitement, some people are completely overwhelmed and some parents cry when they see their kid can finally eat something,” Lucas says.
“It’s life-changing for a lot of people. If you don’t have food allergies or intolerances, you don’t get it,” he says. “It’s not just about the food, it’s also about not feeling like weirdos, getting eye rolls from the waiter and being that difficult person or getting sick.”
At Foddies, you can get both: good food and a stress-free experience.
Want more gluten-free inspiration? Catch Helen Tzouganatos whipping up lush gluten-free recipes alongside guests in the brand new series of Loving Gluten Free on SBS and SBS On Demand.
393 Camberwell Rd, Camberwell, Victoria
Mon – Fri 7 am – 3:30 pm
Sat – Sun 8 am – 3:30 pm
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