Marc Vetri Thinks Many Gluten-Intolerant People Are “Grossly Ill-Informed”

Marc Vetri

Marc Vetri

Philly chef Marc Vetri posted a nearly 1,400-word rant on the Huffington Post yesterday about his growing intolerance of gluten intolerance. He describes a diner who identifies herself as gluten-intolerant and who declines to eat his restaurant’s risotto, even after Vetri explains that it is made with rice and is therefore gluten-free.

His words:

I still couldn’t get over the fact she really believed there was gluten in risotto. Or for that matter, that people consider wheat to be so bad for us. To me it’s simply a lack of understanding about what wheat is, and what it is processed into. This diner most likely wasn’t gluten intolerant at all. She’s simply mesmerized by the latest fad that is consuming the nation–but it’s a fad based on misrepresentation.

I would like to offer another meaning for G.I: Grossly Ill-informed.

Extrapolating from this example, he goes the Jimmy Kimmel-esque, “no one even knows what gluten is, anyway” route to drive home his point:

Truthfully, unless you have celiac disease, which is a major issue in 1 percent of the population, you probably don’t know what gluten is, let alone what glycemic index is. You’re most likely listening to some half-truths written in a book by some doctor who is more concerned with the width of his wallet rather than the width of your waistline.

Them’s fighting words. Read the full post for yourself over here.

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  • PhillyBee

    I die –
    this is hilarious and hits the head on the nail. Favorite lines are: ‘I would
    like to offer another meaning for G.I: Grossly Ill-informed.’ and ‘…some doctor who
    is more concerned with the width of his wallet rather than the width of your

  • princss6

    Wheat-free isn’t gluten-free thus sadly Vetri’s incomprehension of what the diner is saying. There are other grains that contain gluten. When someone says they are gluten-free, they could mean wheat-free. Others mean no gluten whatsover.

    • LookWhoIsMisinformed

      But he is right in saying that there is NO gluten in rice. None. Gluten is in grains such as rye, wheat, barley but it is not in rice. His annoyance is justified. Why are you saying that he is not comprehending the diner?

  • Allyjean

    Maybe someone can also offer Marc Vetri a little class in “GI” and GMO’s we consume in our country. Maybe there are idiots out there–like the people who are vegetarians because of reading “The China Experiment”, but GMO’s are a real thing. Just like the GMO wheat we eat. Just like my IBS which is inflamed from the dwarf wheat. Maybe Marc Vetri should ALSO get educated, before he starts throwing out his opinions.

    • PAPlan

      So the hundred of scientific studies that show that GMOs are completely safe don’t count at all? Ok.

      • YerMotha

        You should research the research you rely on. Most research projects need funding for the expensive longitudinal studies. Hmm, who has lots of money and would have an interest in getting certain results published? That’s right- Monsanto. Private agricultural funding is growing and threatens the availability of providing the public with balanced information.

        Speaking to, “Some doctor who is more concerned with the width of his wallet rather than the width of your waistline,” you could say the same thing about big farming/engineer companies, although there’s only one in the game. They do not care about the health of Americans. if non-GMO foods made them more money, guarantee Monsanto would fund a giant organic campaign in seconds.

        • PAPlan

          What you are saying is simply not true. Studies have been conducted by independent researchers at universities all over the world for years. It’s not even hundreds, it’s actually thousands of studies.

          The general scientific consensus is that GMOs are just as safe, if not safer, than organic foods. This is backed up by the WHO, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, The National Academy of the Sciences, the American Medical Association, the American Society of Microbiology, etc. etc. etc. Do you have information that isn’t available to the thousands of scientists worldwide that have devoted their lives to an unbiased study of the issue?

    • marc vetri

      Sorry, we don’t eat GMO wheat, there isn’t any

    • Goaemon


      I was not going to chime in at all, but after reading your comments I felt a need to speak.

      Perhaps you should get to know Marc Vetri before
      You start making comments about him. I have been in hospitality business now for quarter century and have worked on 3 continents and there are not many Chefs out there who are as well educated about food and ingredients and what those ingredients as Chef Vetri.

      I respect his opinion and would eat anything made in his restaurants.

      By the way, good restaurant operators work very hard to make sure their guests leave with a smile. When someone makes a reservation at our restaurant we always ask them if we should be aware of any allergies. The reason we do that is to be prepared with excellent food options for the guest when they arrive.

      The point of the article is that people need to educate themselves before they start making allergies up and they are the ones who make it hard for people with actual allergies to enjoy their meals.

      • Frankly Disgusted

        How, exactly, does this experience make it harder for someone that you deem has an “actual allergy”?

  • Aileen

    PREACH! Love this article!!! The public can be so misinformed by day time television shows, the news, and fad diets. Try to educate yourself before you claim you have a gluten allergy and sound like an idiot.

  • gorditer

    read the whole article. the diner who refused the risotto was drinking beer. that qualifies her as grossly ill-informed.

  • TheGranaryResident

    Dear Mr. Vetri,
    As someone who is gluten-intolerant, I would gladly eat your risotto as it is probably the best Italian option for someone who cannot tolerate gluten. Also, as much as you may despise the ill-informed gluten-intolerants out there, please please please get some GF pizza at your pizzeria on 20th and Callowhill. It’s hard to stare at the gorgeous pizzas while I (very enjoyably) devour every salad on the menu.
    PS. I am definitely well aware of what gluten is.
    Well informed gluten-intolerant :)

    • Chelsabean

      omg YES. There need to be more gluten-free pizza options out there. I miss pizza so much.

    • marc vetri

      I have thought about it. I won’t lie…every one I’ve had I don’t like. I may do farinata…which is an amazing chick pea pancake that you can put toppings on. But you should also try the pizza…depending on your severity, you could be able to eat the pizza. We do a 48 hour fermentation…breaks down a lot if the gluten…could be worth a try.

      • sylvia

        so the fermentation of the pizza dough breaks down the gluten, but the fermentation of the beer does not?

        • phunnyphilly

          Beer has malted grains, barley maybe? which can also cause digestive issues. Beer does a number on my system, but often sourdough bread will not cause the same problem. Everyone’s system is a little different…But a true gluten intolerant would not drink beer.

  • Guest

    I disagree with this (except he is right that risotto is, in fact, gluten free….and that lady was grossly misinformed). I had extremely painful stomach aches all my life. I would be curled up in pain in my bed every night. I would even stop eating for a day or so at a time because my stomach hurt so badly. It was awful. I got tested for celiac and didn’t have it, or any other things they tested for. I tried countless numbers of over-the-counter and prescription drugs, which made no difference. I tried cutting many things from my diet, which made no difference. Until I cut gluten out. It worked. I very rarely get a stomach ache now…(unless I see a soft pretzel and impulsively eat it, and I go straight back to stomach ache hell and immediately regret it). I can eat however much food I want, as long as it is gluten free. As long as I stay away from gluten, I am stomach ache free. I don’t claim to know the science behind it. I don’t care, frankly. I’m not a trend follower. All I know is if I stay far away from gluten, I don’t feel like I am going to die. (Except for the impulsive soft pretzel because they are my favorite food in the world and I can’t resist). And I know that I’m not alone here. I have talked to many, many people who have very similar stories to my own.

    • RefudiateIt

      You’re not in disagreement with anything. You’re gluten intolerant and you know what gluten is. You’re good. He’s not saying that everyone who is gluten-intolerant is insignificant. He’s saying that there is a gross influx in people who are self-proclaiming their intolerance, waving their gluten-free flags, and annoyingly not even educating themselves on what that means in the first place.

      • Frankly Disgusted

        There is basically no way to proclaim gluten intolerance other than self proclaiming it. There’s no test for it, no official diagnosis. You just stop eating gluten and see if you feel better. If you don’t have a positive biopsy proving you have severe gut damage, you don’t have celiac, but may still be gluten intolerant. People who become aware of their gluten intolerance or even celiac diseas have to start somewhere. Often they will start with a program of self-education and eating at reputable restaurants. There, they probably assume they won’t be laughed at for making a bad choice on the beverage menu rather than being pointed to a more apropriate option. They also assume the chef won’t write huffington post article about them when they leave.

  • Philatonian

    Gluten is poisonous to less than 1% of the population who have the medically understood Celiac disease. However, there is no scientific test to determine gluten intolerance. Your doctor will ask you to stop eating gluten, and if you feel better, you’re intolerant. It is diagnosed without any controlled variables. What people don’t consider is that when they hang up gluten, they also hang up a lot of junk foods that happen to have gluten in them, they eat less, or they begin watching their dietary intake. Many are inadvertently eating and becoming healthier simply because they think they have a disorder. It’s all about balancing a healthy diet and lifestyle. Considering that more than 50% of the Western world live largely sedentary lifestyles with poor eating habits, and 1/3 of American children are obese, it’s not surprising that something emerged as a scapegoat. Eat well and exercise, people. It’s that simple.

    • Chelsabean

      I don’t agree. This may be true for some gluten-intollerant people. But I was a really healthy eater when I was eating gluten, and I ran miles a day. I rarely ate junk food. And I had a stomach ache every single day. Now, I don’t eat gluten, but I otherwise eat like crap, honestly. Lots of fries and ice cream. I still run a lot. And now I never get stomach aches…unless I cheat and eat gluten impulsively.

      • Guy Justin Jones

        If you read The Mind Body Connection you’ll learn that most intestinal disorders are caused by the mind (i.e. stress). So its quite possible you’ve tricked your mind into a correlation between gluten and stomach pain or more accurately the lack of gluten being a placebo for the absence of stomach discomfort.

    • Chelsabean

      I do, however, understand that there is no scientific research that proves that gluten-intollerance is a real thing. I read an article recently saying that the culprit might be something that often coexists with gluten. Either way, I don’t really care at this point. I feel better and I don’t miss gluten a bit.

  • RefudiateIt

    I mostly agree with Vetri. But here’s my position on this topic (which skews more towards the actual issue at hand than towards these tiny unavailing battles that are happening on here):
    1. In Vetri’s defense. People who want to go out into the world with their self-diagnosed intolerances, just need to flat out educate themselves about what they’re proclaiming. Have confidence in your convictions. Practice a 100% gluten free diet or shush. Some of us will nearly sh*t our pants if we have gluten, so stop flirting with the line and ruining it for the rest of us… Start here, dummies:
    2. In the diner’s defense. Vetri is a very well educated man, and many chefs in Philly are great at catering to food allergies/intolerances; but it only takes one grossly ill-informed or just downright careless server or chef/line cook to make the diner sick. I’ve had to experience meals that aren’t gluten free. So I really do believe that it goes both ways. Vetri and his staff members are educated about ingredients/processes because that’s a standard (which is why his restaurants are awesome-sauce); so to him/them, it’s annoying when a Glutard steps into the restaurant. On the other side of things, there are grossly ill-informed chefs and staff members around the city that ask, “does that mean you can’t have cheese” after I tell them about my allergy. No, dear baby jesus, no. And once we’ve experienced a restaurant like the aforementioned where we’ve been sickened by a said gluten free dish, we’re gun-shy.
    3. With that being said, refer back to #1 and then … don’t expect restaurants to cater to your needs without knowing how to cater to them yourself. When I’m ordering, I give a disclaimer (it’s a mouthful, but it always seems to keep my server/bartender from being annoyed) along the lines of: Hi I have a gluten allergy. Not a fake allergy, a real one. I have Celiac Disease. I don’t want to piss off your chefs, I just want to enjoy the restaurant without feeling/getting sick. I know what I can and can’t have, so do you: 1) Have a gluten free menu? and if not 2) Have some time to answer some questions for me about your ingredients/prep so that I can ensure that my meal is gluten free? Damage control.

    Be proactive and educated if you want to be “special”.

    Tip to the Glutards: An intolerance is not an allergy. An allergy is a whole new level of misery that is only understood by the bearers and the back of the house. Don’t even pull that card.

    • Chelsabean

      Omg totally. I’ve encountered some gluten free servers who say “whats that mean?” when I ask them if they have gluten free options. And sometimes…after specifying exactly what I can and can’t have, and verbalizing the exact ingredients that I want and don’t want….they still end up giving me a plate full of gluten. You’d think, by now…since this gluten-free craze has begun, that a vast majority of people would know what gluten is. Nope.

      • ICDogg

        I go through similar issues with my diet. And really, I generally prefer to prepare my own food whenever possible for that reason. But sometimes it’s not reasonably possible to avoid eating out.

      • Chris

        Stay at home with your “special diets”. Restaurants aren’t in business to be your personal chefs, making up new dishes to satisfy your fad diet whims.

        • RefudiateIt

          Chris you win the award for the most illogical comment! Congrats!

    • Frankly Disgusted

      “Vetri and his staff members are educated about ingredients/processes because that’s a standard” and they let this patron order a beer and then laughed about it behind their back.

      • janetstrausbaugh

        They don’t “let” them order the beer! They were of age, they were probably just tired of arguing with the Glutard who thought rice had gluten in it!

  • Claire Concetta

    Mr. Vetri,

    As a long time customer I am disheartened by your comments. Not all of your “gluten-intolerant” patrons are ill informed. As a well informed individual I am extremely educated on the topic of gluten; which includes wheat, barley and rye. I choose not to eat gluten because I have a pain, swelling and joint disorder that was frighteningly misdiagnosed as RSD or CRPS. If you are not familiar, RSD is a progressive, terminal, crippling, chronic pain and neurological disease. If I eat gluten I become extremely ill for days with symptoms that mimic a severe stomach virus. Sounds like such a hip, chic fad I’m following right?

    It seems evident your staff shares the same arrogance you displayed in the article, at least from my most recent experience. This past father’s day I was at one of your restaurants celebrating with my family. Because I loath being a burdensome, annoying customer, I generally ask for the same dish everywhere I go to eat; salad with grilled chicken. Not only did the server REFUSE to alter such a complex order since “the guys in the back hate changing around dishes”, but he continually tried to push a nearly $30 chicken entree I was not interested in ordering and told him multiple times I did not want. I find it odd that after I told the waiter I was “gluten-intolerant” I wasn’t offered a side of your delicious risotto, which by the way I truly would have graciously eaten. Conflict ensued between my father and the waiter because of his refusal to make a small alteration. I was so uncomfortable that I randomly ordered a salad on the menu. I left your restaurant hungry and ate when I arrived home. This should be an absolute embarrassment that a customer left your establishment hungry! During the entire time, I WOULD LOVE TO ADD, we never asked for a manager or you. I was not unpleasant or unreasonable and had one simple request that was dismissed.

    Marc, the reason I really am upset is because I think you are a brilliant business man who has done so many great things for my community. The support you have given to the local elementary school, Bache-Martin, the school I went to as a child, is commendable to say the least. Your eye for design, venue location, menu and beverage offering doesn’t just make you an exceptional chef or restauranteur, but a phenomenal artist. In the future please know that your words can be truly offensive to people who really respect and appreciate you.

    • marc vetri

      I never said all Gluten Intolerant people are I’ll informed. Your taking a piece of the article and taking it to another level. Celiac is a problem and I belive some people in fact have a harder time digesting gluten them others. But it has become a fad and a thing to do by many people who are not informed.
      Further, it’s not at all burdensome to make food without gluten. That again is you saying something I never said. If you read the article, you would see that I enjoy cooking anything and everything. We make special menus every night and not only are we happy to do it, we plan for it and are prepared for it.
      As for your experience on Father’s Day I find that equally offensive and I would like to hear where you ate so I could address the problem. My servers do share my enthusiasm to make the guest happy and change menu items… Your request should have been no issue. I would appreciate an email detailing what happened. Thanks…please reread the article with an open mind. I’m not attacking anyone who doesn’t eat gluten.

      • cupsofcoffee

        Chef Vetri, I’m really impressed to see your participation in this thread. Too often, people put out a rant and then stay clear of the comments. Your responses here show how thoughtful you are. Bravo, sir.

  • Kadoody

    “Truthfully, unless you have celiac disease, which is a major issue in 1 percent of the population, you probably don’t know what gluten is, let alone what glycemic index is. You’re most likely listening to some half-truths written in a book by some doctor who is more concerned with the width of his wallet rather than the width of your waistline.”

    Truthfully, gluten intolerance comes from the gluten food allergy and not just Celiac’s disease. When I first found out I was allergic I didn’t really know what it was. A year later I’m still finding more stuff that has gluten in it that shouldn’t. She may have been ill-informed but I think you publicly embarrassing her by your ill-informed idea of gluten intolerance is the same. Want to know what happens to a person who eats gluten with an allergy? Give me a piece bread and I dare you to watch what comes out of my butt 5 minutes later. #glutenfree #explosive diarrhea all over this article

  • PaoliBulldog

    I hope Mr. Vetri didn’t base his rant on the stupidity of the single diner who couldn’t wrap her brain around the thought that risotto is gluten-free. That’s a whole different level of ignorance.

    My wife switched to a gluten (and dairy) free diet in August 2009, two days after she was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and one day after I found a 1999 double blind Finnish study in the Journal of Rheumatology showing that RA patients improved significantly on a gluten-free, vegan diet. Her symptoms started to improve within a couple of days and she is now in full remission and has never taken immunosuppressant drugs (just the antibiotic minocycline).

    Five years ago we had to buy most of our food at Whole Foods, so I have been happy to watch the gluten-free craze work its way into the mainstream. Ingredients are easier and cheaper to obtain. But we learned to look at cooking GF/DF as a challenge and an opportunity to discover new dishes and new ways to cook old favorites. (I do a crawfish pasta that I’d be proud to serve to Chef Vetri.)

    I think the gluten-free diet *is* a fad that many people don’t really need to follow, but a fair number of people *will* continue to do so for very good reasons, even if they don’t have celiac sprue. I hope Chef Vetri gets over the risotto twit and applies his talents toward developing more GF alternatives. If you can’t beat ’em, feed ’em.

    • Derek

      I wonder if a study using grassfed/wild meat would have similar results to the vegan diet… I’m no expert, but from what little I do know, I would bet reducing inflammation has a lot to do with the mitigation of RA symptoms. I’d also be interested to know if the vegan diet was largely vegetable-based vs. the more grain-based North American versions of veganism…

      • PaoliBulldog

        Yes, inflammation reduction is a large part of why the vegan diet seems to help mitigate RA symptoms. My wife also takes an omega-3 fatty acid supplement, which also helps reduce inflammation.

        I don’t believe the Finnish study was overly grain dependent. I recall it incorporated lots of root vegetable, which my wife and I enjoy eating anyway.

        What struck me about the Finnish study was that even the test subjects whose objective RA markers did *not* change significantly, decided to stay on the diet after the study ended.

  • ICDogg

    I’m an even bigger pain in the ass, being a low-carber. I won’t eat risotto because it has too many carbs. Or anything with any grains in it, or starches, or added sugars, or even fruit for the most part. It’s something I do for my health, basically by eating this way I don’t have to pump myself full of insulin all the time; otherwise I do. So it is, technically, a choice.

    And I’m sorry if some chef would consider it an insult that I wish to take care of myself this way. But that’s just the way it needs to be.

    • PaoliBulldog

      I think he would be upset only if you told him you couldn’t have the steak because it contained too much starch.

      • ICDogg

        I do get nervous sometimes because many marinades contain sugars, but I would at least ask.

  • Joe Peloski

    A diner’s knowledge about the ingredients in their food has nothing to do with their dietary needs. I have Celiac disease and I get it wrong quite a bit. I am sick quite a bit. but getting better. I don’t want to be and could care less about fad diets. I love beer and drink it every so often….I get sick. It sucks. The unqualified opinion of a cook is not relevant except to the extent that people with food allergies should take note.

  • Frankly Disgusted

    Non-food professionals, especially recently diagnosed or “realized” gluten intolerant people, often do not have encyclopedia knowlage about food production and ingredients contained within. That is the number one point of telling your wait staff that you have a food allergy or intolerance. Expecting your customers to have encyclopedic knowledge about the food in your restaurant, even when they tell you explicitly that they have a problem and need assistance in making sure they have a “clean” meal, is unreasonable. No one has better knowledge about your menu than the chef, so why leave it to the server to explain that the dish is not orzo, but risotto? And why ridicule her afterwords, when erring on the side of caution is the appropriate thing to do if you have a food allergy or intolerance? Why not explain it himself and set her mind at ease? I know I trust the chef’s explanation of a dish more than the server’s. And why did he laugh at this woman behind her back for drinking a beer instead of making sure she had gluten free beverage options? That’s just malicious. People, including patrons of restaurants, make mistakes. Gluten intolerance is not taken seriously enough by many medical professionals and this woman may have had little guidance as to what she actually can eat. In that case, when she’s gone out of her way to ask for help in eating a meal that will not make her sick, you’ve instead laughed and ridiculed her behind her back for being overly cautious in one instance, and trusting that you would not let her make a mistake in beverage choice in the next. I personally will never eat at one of your restaurants now. I wouldn’t trust you not to laugh at me for eating something with a chipotle sauce, or a dessert with vanilla extract and laugh at me while I eat it for not knowing it could contain gluten.

  • kt

    As a well informed Gluten Intolerant person, I have always been very happy to eat what I can at Mr. Vetri’s restaurants. I’m always thrilled to find a risotto on a menu and would gladly eat his any day.

  • wheatSolution

    I found taking a Flax Seed Oil capsule every day allowed me to cheat a little on my gluten intolerance. It prevented the stomach aches and watery stool. I’ve also read that a higher gluten % is being added to our food, such that more borderline people are now having these symptoms.

  • Cakes

    I don’t know what’s worse – this or people who claim to have a “mild case of celiacs”. as someone who was diagnosed with celiacs over 13 years ago, last time I checked celiacs IS something that can be specifically diagnosed and you either have it or don’t. I wish the fad would just go away so everyone can stop being so confused on what it really means to be gluten free.

  • John @ OHFS

    Big fan of Marc and his cooking. Ate at Vetri’s a few years ago and it was probably the best meal I’ve ever eaten. I’m also skeptical of the whole anti-gluten fad. Sounds like the biggest problem these folks in the food industry face is dealing with idiots. Although I suspect that problem probably extends beyond the gluten issue.

  • Delawarian

    I had Irritable Bowel Syndrome for most of my adult life (imagine running to the bathroom a dozen times a day with cramps and diarrhea). It resolved when I went gluten free. I have had 2 biopsies of my stomach, and I don’t have celiac. Upon going g-free, I lost 16 lbs. in 2 weeks (proof of inflammation/fluid in my body that was released). The IBS diminished significantly in the next 2 months (it can take 6 months to leave the body). All I can say is if you don’t have the issues, please don’t judge what does and does not make other people feel better. It’s not your body/life.

  • JM

    I think Vetri’s original article has some strong points to ponder, especially when he explains the real nutrition of wheat in comparison to the way gluten-free wheat substitutes are often made. He clearly knows what he is talking about and is far from ill-informed on the topic. However, the circulation of snippets of his article, especially framed as “fighting words,” is unproductive. I would honestly be upset to be represented this way if I were him.

    Though I’ve never been to Vetri’s restaurant, reading this particular article made me hesitant to go there in the future. I used to avoid gluten as an alternative way to treat stomach issues, and later on some acne issues (alternative to the medicines that doctors wanted to me to try, such as heartburn medication, long-term antibiotics, and birth-control, all of which have their own side effects). It’s hard enough going out to eat and asking for gluten-free options because many people are in fact close-minded to someone choosing not to eat gluten even though they are not clinically allergic. Friends can make fun of you, waiters sometimes give you a strange look, family asks why you have to be so difficult and choosy. I know friends, waiters, and family shouldn’t act in this judgmental manner, but choosing to go gluten-free really gets under everyone else’s skin for some reason. There is a social stigma already attached to gluten-intolerance, and this article is so popular precisely because most people don’t “believe in” its existence and are annoyed by the trend. However, I think we should applaud those who attempt to modify their diet to help their body. Yes, many people will be ill-informed in this attempt. But it’s better than blindly accepting any and all prescription fads without knowing the side effects. I don’t think people are grossly ill-informed specifically about gluten, rather they are grossly ill-informed about much of what they put in their bodies (and how their bodies work).

    I disagree with the way Vetri’s article is portrayed here and how people are using it on social media with a “stick-it to-em” -esque attitude. Congrats for sticking it to people who…. try to avoid gluten. That must feel so gratifying.

    However, I agree somewhat (though not completely) with Vetri’s article because he backs it up with strong nutritional knowledge. It’s clear in his article that he goes above and beyond to accommodate food allergies while keeping customer happiness in mind. He is sensitive to people’s dietary needs and wants and accommodates it happily and willingly. I think his original article’s title of being intolerant of gluten intolerance is off-putting, but I do believe he is actually sensitive to people’s needs once you get past the sensationalism of his ‘intolerance’ of gluten intolerance. This may be the only instance where someone else’s ‘intolerance’ gets under my own skin.