With reporting from Katie Mayer.
At the young age of 8, Kim Koeller, award-winning author of the 2014 Let’s Eat Out Around the World Gluten Free and Allergy Free, dreamt of being an astronaut and traveling the 477,714 round-trip miles between the Earth and the Moon. When she realized that she liked other subjects more than science, Kim’s passion quickly changed to traveling around the world.
As a child and young teenager, Kim and her family spent two weeks every summer exploring the United States and Canada in a camper while experiencing new adventures. After begging her parents for permission, Kim’s first trip to Europe was at the age of 16 with her French class as an early high school graduation present.
Kim fell in love with Paris and was so fascinated by new places, people and cultures that she decided to attend Purdue University and study abroad in Strasbourg France. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in the French language and a minor in Business, she consulted with corporate clients and then earned her Master’s Degree in International Management at the Thunderbird School of Global Management.
For the next 17 years, as an international business executive and partner with Accenture, the world’s leading management consulting firm, Kim and her teams collaborated with Fortune 500 clients across the globe, which was extremely rewarding, both personally and professionally.
Throughout her life, Kim has also overcome a number of health-related issues including 12 orthopedic surgeries, various sports-related fractures and 3 years of physical therapy. In 2002, after years of misdiagnosis, her team of doctors determined she had multiple food allergies including dairy, fish, shellfish, preservatives and chemicals as well as celiac disease (genetic auto-immune disorder with a permanent intolerance to gluten, the protein found in wheat, rye and barley).
Kim’s diagnosis turned her world upside down. Since global travel was an integral part of her personality and career, learning to eat and live anywhere around the world with celiac disease and food allergies was priority number one. She made the decision that her diagnosis was not going to limit her and that she would do whatever it took to regain her freedom while not getting sick.
Kim had to learn how to control her new special diet instead of letting the diet control her. Since there was a void in the marketplace about eating out gluten and allergy free, she conducted 3 years of extensive research to determine how to safely eat in restaurants located in both English and foreign speaking countries.
Based upon her personal dining experiences coupled with her friend Robert La France’s expertise as a restaurant industry veteran, Kim and Robert began experimenting with menu items across various ethnic cuisines such as Italian, French, Indian, Mexican and Thai. They identified questions to ask in restaurant terms based on specific dishes, ingredients, food preparation and hidden allergens to ensure that hundreds of meals are safe from gluten and 9 other allergens regardless of destination.
Realizing how valuable this knowledge could be for individuals and business professionals, Kim founded GlutenFree Passport, a global health education firm. She began consulting with clients and public speaking at industry conferences around the world while traveling on a regular basis. To date, she has logged over 2 million flight miles (equivalent to 4-plus round trips to the moon and back!) while managing a 100% gluten and allergy free lifestyle!
Additionally, Kim decided to team with Robert and write an innovative book series to help the millions of people impacted by special diets worldwide. After more research, quality assurance reviews and focus group testing, the new 4th edition Let’s Eat Out Around the World Gluten Free and Allergy Free book and eBook are now available! With customers in over 60 countries and 18 quality awards, Kim’s vision of empowering people with the necessary tools for safe food experiences around the corner from their home or traveling around the world is continuing to be achieved!