Learn from the Master at City College Norwich

Steve Thorpe

Steve Thorpe - Credit: Submitted

Steve Thorpe has launched so many of the great men and women working in Norfolk’s food and drink industry. Now he is sharing his expertise in a masterclass on cooking gluten-free, writes Clare Burgess

Baking at City College Norwich

Baking at City College Norwich - Credit: Keith Whitmore

In recent years an increasing number of people have eliminated gluten from their diets for a variety of reasons. Some believe it will help them lose weight and others have diagnosed medical conditions, such as wheat allergies or coeliac disease, that mean any gluten consumption could have serious health consequences.

Steve Thorpe, professional chef and assistant principal at City College Norwich, is responsible for the education, training and development of many of Norfolk’s hospitality and catering students. Since being diagnosed with coeliac disease, Steve has been involved in writing and setting standards nationally for training chefs in how to prepare food for those with specific dietary requirements. He has also used his culinary knowledge to develop a range of delicious gluten free recipes and cooking methods that he teaches to aspiring home bakers during his one day masterclasses.

Steve tells us about the exciting and varied recipes that he has created and gives us his tips on how to experiment with gluten free cooking at home. “Gluten-free cooking is really simple when cooking from fresh; the challenge is knowing what ingredients are in pre-packaged products that you’re using, so it is always important to thoroughly check the label. However, when cooking things like bread or pastry, there is the added challenge of understanding a gluten-free alternative ingredient enough to know how to adjust your cooking method to ensure that the taste and texture of the end product is as close to the original version as possible.

“Since my diagnosis, I have experimented with a wide range of ingredients and cooking methods to develop a variety of gluten-free versions of my favourite foods such as pasta, pastry, doughnuts and sourdough bread. I have perfected these recipes by using a variety of techniques which include blending different types of flours to get the right texture and colour and substituting the gluten protein for whey protein when making bread. To help others who are interested in this style of cooking, I wanted to share some of my tips and techniques by offering special masterclasses where I try to take the fear out of experimenting by encouraging participants to get involved in some hands on cooking and baking activities.

“My initial advice to those who are looking to start experimenting with gluten-free cooking is to use a recipe but don’t adjust it the first time that you use it. I would also advise to measure ingredients by weight and not by volume which means that having a good set of scales is really important.”

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