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I’ve been very lucky over the last few weeks to attend two awards ceremonies – one at the luxury, five star Landmark Hotel in London, and one at The Bristol Hotel in Bristol. (Part of the reason why I have been on a bit of a blogging hiatus, so my apologies!)

It’s always a worry going to these sorts of thing when you’re on a gluten free diet, surrounded by other professionals in the industry you feel a bit like the awkward one asking for gluten free. Luckily, in both cases I was asked in advance of any dietary requirements, and I’m happy to say both cases catered for me just fine.

Apart from one thing. Bloody fruit salad for pudding.  At the risk of sounding like an ungrateful brat, does anyone else feel like hurling the fruit salad at the wall when it’s placed in front of you? I must say, at both hotels the fruit salad was very nice, but when everyone else is scoffing on cheesecake, it’s so disheartening. I mean, they knew in advance I was coeliac, surely a five star hotel could have come up with something a little more inventive than fruit salad? It drives me absolutely bonkers.

Aside from this, here’s a little sneak at the food I got. It was chicken in both cases – no surprises there – but the hotels did differ a little in their style of catering for my gluten free diet. It must be difficult to do when you’re preparing food for several hundred people, so kudos to them for not accidentally glutening me – that’s a good thing at least.

The Landmark Hotel

For a five star hotel, I have to admit I was disappointed in the food. The starter was nice – everyone else had delicious-smelling fish cakes, but as a gluten free-er I got the vegetarian option – grilled veg with a basil oil dressing. It was nice, but I did have food envy over the fishcakes. I did get my own two slices of bread though, which came out still its sealed packet so as not to be contaminated.


The next item on the menu was chicken and risotto – great, I though, risotto is nearly always the gluten free option, right? Wrong. I got chicken (with no herbs like everyone else) and mash potato. No seasoning. Nothing. At least I can’t complain they weren’t being too careful….


As for dessert, well, the fruit salad was beautifully presented and even came with a palm leaf, but while I can’t fault it, it was still fruit salad.


For such a fine establishment which took my breath away with its decor, the food was such a let down – most people around the table were adding salt and pepper to their meals – a little disappointing, but with free champagne and a great awards do, I can’t really complain – it was a brilliant trip!

The Bristol Hotel

The second do I attended as at the Bristol Hotel, and again, the meal was chicken. This time I was surrounded by the crème de la crème of the South West’s media.  This time we had a two-course meal, with bread passed around at the start – though none for me, unfortunately!

The main course was chicken once more. This time I got the same as everyone else, apart from my own gluten free gravy. The waitress was more than helpful once I pointed out my dietary needs, running to the rescue to confiscate a ‘normal’ dish someone put in front of me. The food was simple and tasty – though I could have eaten the same portion again!


When dessert came around, I watched everyone begin to tuck into their delicious looking white chocolate cheesecakes when, you guessed it, the fruit salad made its appearance. Despite its simple look, I have to admit it was one of the best fruit salads I’ve had in a while. The fruit was all fresh, and full of tropical treats such as mango and pineapple – my favourites!


I absolutely cannot fault the fact that my diet was catered for – it could have been a total nightmare and the fact that both hotels gave me my own special dishes was great. But it’s not hard to order in a stock of gluten free cake or brownie for the freezer, or conjure up something a little more inventive than fruit salad, however beautifully it is presented. At the risk of sounding like a spoilt child – it’s just not fair!

That being said, I had an absolutely amazing time, and am thoroughly proud of the achievements of the team at the Gazette – if anything it was the best day out and great fun having post-award drinks in Bristol!

How have you coped at catered dos? Do you get stuck with the fruit salad too? Please share your good and bad experiences in the comments section below!

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About Sarah Howells

Hi, I'm Sarah! Diagnosed with coeliac disease 20 years ago, I'm on a mission to create the best gluten free recipes since sliced bread. No fruit salads or dry brownies here.

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  1. I’ve had the same experience when I too was catered for in the mains dept, but when it came to dessert there was nothing I could eat. As you say, it is quite annoying.

  2. Was at the D*********, on P*** L*** (purple on on Monopoly board)..served a lovely melon starter…(while others had sea food in a pastry shell)..and exactly the same melon..for dessert. Was a posh do, with posh frocks….ok over 200 sitting down, but not beyond the capabilities of a world class hotel……disappointed to say the least….

  3. #fruitisnotapudding unless every person on the table is having fruit salad it is incredibly upsetting. I have been known to take a gluten free and dairy free brownie with me in my handbag to add to my fruit salad 😉

  4. I can’t BEAR fruit salad, so lazy! At least stick a supermarket meringue on there, even a bit of sorbet, Chef. I also take extras with me, even if just a dairy-free chocolate bar, sometimes even slices of gf bread when I think the starters and mains will be rubbish. Sod what I look like un-clingfilming things from my bag, I just want a normal eating experience and to make a point.
    Great post! Emma

  5. I have to agree. Fruit salad, sorbet and ice cream are not dessert!! So many restaurants do this for GF menus too. Even chocolate brownies I always feel are a cop out. Why not make a chocolate mousse, pavlova, rice pudding, even stewed fruit and custard would be better. My worst experience was when I got half an apple – just cut in half with core still in and 3 slices of orange as a dessert.