“Queen of Gluten-free” joins BBC Good Food Festival at Goodwood

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Dubbed the “Queen of Gluten-free” by Nigella Lawson, Becky Excell will be bringing an important message to the BBC Good Food Festival at Goodwood Racecourse on Saturday, August 19.

“You just don’t have to be on your own when you are gluten-free,” Becky says. “It’s something that I feel really passionate about.” The point is that Becky remembers just how hugely isolated she felt when she began her own gluten-free journey out of necessity 14 years ago. Since that low point, Becky, who will be cooking live in the Festival Kitchen, has become a multi Sunday Times best-selling author and gluten-free food writer with a following of more than 700,000 across Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.

Becky’s debut cookbook How to Make Anything Gluten Free was published in 2021 and became a Sunday Times best-seller on release, featuring more than a hundred recipes for everything from homemade pasta, fresh bread, authentic fake-aways, classic bakes and mouthwatering desserts. She followed this up with her second Sunday Times best-selling cookbook, How to Bake Anything Gluten Free, which delivered on the promise of turning the reader’s kitchen into their own personal gluten-free bakery.

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“I was in my first year at university and I started getting a lot of gut issues, stomach complaints. I went to the doctors and they recommended that I should remove gluten from my diet and that helped. I felt so much better. I went back to the doctors later for something else and they wanted to test me for Coeliac disease but to be tested properly for that I would have had to have been eating gluten properly when I had already taken it out of my diet and felt so much better for it so I didn't want to go back to that. I had felt really, really unwell so I decided to live as if I had Coeliac disease without having actually the rubber stamp of actually having the diagnosis, and I suspect that's the case for tons of people. But that's why I've been eating gluten free ever since I was 18. When I was going through all these issues I would feel incredibly bloated and had issues going to the toilet, all sorts of things and it was just such a huge struggle to be an 18-year-old at university when you just don't want to have to go through that kind of thing. It doesn't just affect your stomach. It affects all of you. It affects you mentally. Once I'd removed gluten from my diet, it wasn't instant, it wasn't next day I felt fine but it really did make me feel so much better. I just felt alive. I just felt like a completely different person. The gut and the brain are so synced up. There's such a big connection between the two.”

Becky Excell is heading to Goodwood (contributed pic)Becky Excell is heading to Goodwood (contributed pic)
Becky Excell is heading to Goodwood (contributed pic)

Becky says she is now completely used to the fact of having to eat gluten free: “But there are still frustrations. When people ask me what specific food do I miss most, then the answer is yes I miss pizza, yes I miss things like that. But the thing that I miss most is the spontaneity. If friends and family say let's go out to eat, I have to check the restaurant to make sure they do something I can eat. And at first when that happens you just feel like you are being the awkward one and I think that stays with people for a long time. I think that's one of the things that people really struggle with.”

And that's why the sense of community that Becky offers is so important: “I did the first Goodwood food festival last year and it's such an amazing event but from my own personal perspective I just love meeting so many different people. There is not usually a lot for gluten free at these kinds of events so I tend to have a lot of people coming up to see me and it just feels like a real community. I started doing this as a hobby and it turned into a job but I still have the passion that I had right at the beginning. I genuinely care about these people and the lovely thing is when I get people coming up to me that I don't know and they just give me a big hug and say that I’ve helped them so much or they will burst into tears and say that I've have changed their life. I really really love that, and certainly at Goodwood there was a really great vibe last year so I'm really looking forward to going back.”

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