Meet Ken Scheer, Creator of the Gluten Free Foodie Tour

When I was diagnosed with celiac disease last year, one of the first people I met through social media was Ken Scheer. Ken introduced me to the local gluten-free network, and asked if I would come to the first Gluten Free Foodie Tour. I’m so glad that I did! Not only did I meet tons of people who are making a difference for celiac and food allergy awareness in Phoenix, but I was introduced to this amazing concept that Ken had put together. I asked him to tell you more about it because I think it is such a great idea. Eating out is one of the biggest challenges for a celiac. If you’re not sure why, click here to read Ken’s article about cross-contamination.  Thanks to people like Ken, we will continue to have more and more safe places to eat.

When I launched my business back in January of this year I knew it was going to have a few essential parts. I’m most passionate about helping others embrace this lifestyle and have a positive attitude about it. I knew that I wanted to do public speaking, one-on-one consulting as well as consult with restaurants in helping them with gluten free options but this wasn’t enough. It’s not just celiac disease or gluten intolerance anymore; it’s allergies to dairy, corn, eggs etc.

Food allergies are at an all time high and I’m currently living without gluten, dairy, soy, eggs and goat’s milk so as the manager of a local Morton’s once said, “if you can eat here then our kitchen is Kenified?” I chuckled when I heard that but since I have the highest level of sensitivities I would say he would probably be correct.

Remember, when eating out one of the biggest challenges that we all fear is cross-contamination. Does this restaurant truly understand how serious these issues are and are they willing to take the precautions we need to ensure a safe visit? This is scary stuff because I know I don’t want to get sick which means the awareness must increase.

That is the purpose of my gluten-free foodie tours. I want restaurants all over the world to increase their knowledge on why it’s so important that they not only offer gluten-free options but also prepare them in a safe way.  In my honest opinion I feel that the amount of restaurants that offer gluten-free options versus the number of us in the community is not well balanced and any restaurant that is not offering options is lagging behind.

As of now I’ve held four events and my goal is to tour different local restaurants and even worldwide brands by bringing in influential foodies, bloggers, social media experts and gluten-free eaters into their restaurants to sample the food. My promise to the restaurant is that I will fill their seats with hungry foodies but it’s up to them to show off their establishment so everyone in attendance feels safe when coming back. I also guarantee them pre-event promotion on Facebook and Twitter as well as tweets during the event including pictures and a review at the conclusion of the event.

All of my events use the hashtag on Twitter #gffoodietour which allows me to provide reports to the restaurant after completion of the event. As of now my goal is to hold one event a month at different locations to help build the momentum.

To date, the tours are averaging 40 attendees, reaching 200K followers and 750K impressions. This data is then collected and shared with the restaurant as well as future restaurants so they can see the importance and value of what our gluten-free community brings. As these tours grow so will the numbers and sponsorship opportunities. In the end, I want to take these gluten-free foodie tours national but those details will be shared at a later date.

Ultimately, it’s up to our gluten-free community to educate others on why this is such a serious issue. Many people like to share recipes but my passion is being out in the community educating individuals and restaurants on why this is serious so it will at one point be commonplace for dining establishments to not only offer these options but also do it in a safe way.

Stay Healthy!!

Ken Scheer has been living a gluten-free lifestyle for seventeen years.
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