Shauna James Ahern’s story

I don’t know where in the world you are, but up here in the Continental NorthEast US – (Washington, D.C. area) the leaves on the trees have transformed into this palette of burnt oranges, cranberries and yellows that leave me regularly staring in awe of their beauty. Because this summer was especially wet, the trees have held onto their leaves a LOT longer than usual and therefore, we have been blessed with multiple weekends at peak foliage. The most breathtaking fall on record for me, hands down. Thanksgiving is a little over a week away, most likely we’re all scrambling to figure out what we’re doing since so many of our other halves are working. Thankgiving begins the official kickoff of the holiday season which for MOST of us, involves going to our family solo, attending christmas parties stag, wrapping presents and decorating the tree all by our lonesome while our other halves are busting their booty to make the holidays delicious for everyone else! It might be ‘The most wonderful time of the year’ for the rest of the world, but for wee significant others, it can leave us with more of a ‘Bah Humbug” kinda feeling.

I think you’re going to be really happy when I share who Novembers featured story is (I know I was!). I’ll be totally honest that when she came into my periphery, I was just learning about what gluten was and how challenging it can be to grow up with a gluten allergy. The long term effects of the body not being able to process what is present in so many of the foods that we take for granted, how many lives that WERE permanently altered by the limitations of the foods they could (and could not) eat. Muffins, cakes, and brownies… on the DO NOT EAT list for so long. Frankly, I cannot imagine as I have been blessed with no known food allergies.

Serendipitously, as I became familiar with her journey, my awareness for gluten free foods in the grocery stood out more. Living “Gluten Free” has changed how those who have previously gone without, can liberate themselves possibly for the first time in their lives. Reading her pre and post discovery about her diagnosis, radically changing her diet that had subsequently changed how she viewed herself, the world around her, and food in general had me captivated from her first post. Add to that her connecting with the love of her life, who happens to be a chef, enhanced what she was already learning… Food isn’t just for eating, it’s a way to LIVE. As they entertwined, her already existant love affair for foods that made her feel alive transformed before her as his culinary expertise took her to new heights.  It might not be music that they are making together, but if food can be described as a song, their coming together has been a symphony for the whole world to see.

She has come to be known as Gluten Free Girl, a trailblazer in the subject of living a gluten free lifestyle.

Shauna aka Gluten Free Girl

As she says in her own words…”I feel tremendously lucky to be able to cook good food, bake gluten-free, and write about it, all with the help of my chef husband, Danny. Life’s good.” 

Shaunas blog isn’t just about one person learning to live without. She teaches us that with a little knowledge, a WHOLE lotta desire, and a life surrounded with love, we can transform our ENTIRE experience. Thank you Shauna, for being you.

What were your first impressions when you first realized that by being with your restaurant man/woman, that you have become a part of the restaurant world?

 A. I really had nothing to do with the restaurant world before I met Danny. I went to restaurants, happily. But I didn’t know restaurants. The extent of my experience with them was one terrible long summer as a waitress. I was a terrible waitress. I was much happier talking with the customers than lugging trays of food up and down stairs. That was it. I lived an intellectual life for a long time. 

When I became, indirectly, part of the restaurant world, I fell in love with it. I love the pace, the camraderie, the smells in the kitchen. I love how conversations are urgent and to the point. I love the heat, the fire, and the ridiculous jokes (most of them dirty, it seems). Watching Danny cook makes me happy. But I mostly love that he has this band of men and women with whom he is bonded at his workplace. It’s a job like no other. 

When did you know that you had what it took, within the parameters of his/her career, to find success in your relationship?

A. I waited a long time for Danny. I was 39 when we finally met, a high school teacher and someone ready to give up on love. So, for me, accepting that he had a slightly unusual life for being a chef? No big deal. I loved that he was a chef, that he lived in food, that he had a life so entirely different from mine. That’s part of what connected us. We liked learning from each other. 

However, we were really happy when I stopped teaching. Our hours were so different. Those first few months were painful with sleep deprivation.
What is the BEST part of being married to someone in the restaurant industry?

A. The best part? I love Danny. I don’t really love the restaurant industry or a chef or the guy who works at The Hardware Store (where he works now). I love Danny. But I have had a lot of great meals in the last five years!

How do you handle the holidays knowing he/she is going to be busy at work?
A. The first few years of our relationship, I had to learn not to see him on New Year’s Eve or Valentine’s Day. (That’s his least favorite day.) We were lucky that he had Christmas off every year. But, just the same way I have relegated myself to the fact that I’m always going to be in charge of our daughter’s bedtime, I understand that some years might mean he’s cooking on Thanksgiving. It’s worth it. I dig him. But it’s tough — just like not having weekends off with our friends. 

How has achieving acclaim and success, within the restaurant industry, changed your relationship?

A. Funny! Fame and success? Mostly, we don’t think of it that way. However, Danny and I both really grateful for all the opportunities we have been given. And he LOVES when people come into his restaurant for food they have not been able to eat for years. The other day, a woman ate his gluten-free fried chicken and cried at the table. She hadn’t eaten fried chicken in years.

We’re lucky. We’re doing this together. I don’t cook at a restaurant, but I cook and bake. And write about food. We’re a team. 

Her cookbook: Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef: A Love Story with 100 Tempting Recipes
Watch the trailer for her cookbook!
Her first book:  Gluten-Free Girl: How I Found the Food That Loves Me Back and How You Can Too

Her blog:
Gluten-Free Girl Facebook fan page: