Talking Allergies

Chef who wants your feedback
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Author:  allergiescooked [ Tue Jan 27, 2015 7:04 pm ]
Post subject:  Chef who wants your feedback

Hello All! I'm a professional chef looking to mend the disconnect felt by many of suffering with food allergies when dealing with my industry. I am oozing with cooking tips, recipes, etc... but I want to hear from you. It's one thing to cook it, it's another thing to live with it...
What are your biggest food frustrations? (Not just dining out, at home too)
Do you feel that there are enough good food options out there? Anything you'd wish there was more of?
What are your biggest cravings? Have you found solutions/good substitutions? If not, what would you like to see?

feel free to ask me questions too :)

Chef Patterson

Author:  soccermom [ Thu Jan 29, 2015 9:24 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Chef who wants your feedback

Wow, I am very excited and impressed that you would initiate this dialogue! Are you affiliated with Allergic Living in any way? My one suggestion would be for your staff. When I discuss my allergies with the server, or manager, and then later they just plunk the plate in front of me and walk away, I feel very disconcerted. It makes such a difference if they simply say, "I checked with the chef, and your meal has been kept away from your allergens." All in all, though, I do think the restaurant industry has come a long way compared to twenty years ago.

Author:  _Susan_ [ Thu Jan 29, 2015 4:47 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Chef who wants your feedback

My biggest concern is: Does that restaurant staff really understand what my concerns are?

I have had nothing but good experiences but, it takes a lot of energy to contact in advance and discuss allergens and concerns re cross contamination. It takes a leap of faith to place your life in another person's hands.

Cross contamination is my biggest fear.

Author:  spacecanada [ Thu Jan 29, 2015 6:04 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Chef who wants your feedback

I had a great reply but got called away from my desk and it got erased - boo.

I, too, am delighted to see a chef on here who cares and wants to learn more about food allergies. Fantastic and welcome! I hope we can all learn from each other!

My biggest concern overall is the lack of reliable and transparent food labels. It is completely optional for companies to declare their food item may contain traces of allergens. An item could be made on shared lines with dairy or nuts or whatever allergen and never say so on the label. Heck, even items containing dairy proteins can be called 'dairy-free' if they meet certain criteria - and have some very dangerous consequences if someone doesn't read the label thoroughly. Thus, we are forced to call manufacturers every time we buy something new to find out this information. Then, some manufacturers give us the line "we'll label for traces if we think there's a risk," refusing to reveal any further details about their manufacturing process. Their definition of risk may be very different than mine, so we're forced to not use those products as a result. Chefs in restaurants don't always know this either and may use an ingredient that may contain allergens without knowing it. This has happened to me and to a friend and we've both ended up in hospital as a result. Just another factor that makes eating out an even bigger challenge.

Another common problem: kitchen fatigue! We have to cook every meal from scratch, all the time - even when tired, sick, or in a hurry. For most of us fast food, takeaway, delivery, or even eating in restaurants isn't an option - or a very limited one at best. We try to keep a stash of frozen leftovers for those exhausted/rushed/sick days, but it's not the same because we had to put in the time and effort to cook them in the first place. I'm a very creative cook who loves being in the kitchen, but there are days I wish I could order in or get food to go.

Author:  renie [ Tue Mar 10, 2015 8:41 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Chef who wants your feedback

Late to the game....
spacecanada captured what my family feels and addresses....

my fear (once you know and accept the labelling limitations mentioned... and now that I am researching sleep away camp, I am learning that it is a whole new ball-game at an institution-level vs. buying from a grocery store) is that we can have the best intentioned restaurant and most supportive staff but it takes only
- one moment of inattention,
- an honest mistake or
- reliance on labelling (vs. knowing what the actual cross contact risks for source ingredients are e.g. even storage and not just same-line processing)
to trigger a traumatic and life threatening event... now we do take the risk (infrequently) but only after extensive research and dialogue that demonstrates an understanding and an awareness of the risks.

I'll also be honest. Abundant confidence is a yellow flag for me - especially when the explanations for it aren't pro-offered but rather a stock response of "we deal with allergies every night and never have an issue".

I echo the thoughts of you reaching out to engage. Honestly, we're an under-serviced and in some cases largely un-tapped market :)

Author:  spacecanada [ Sat Mar 14, 2015 11:57 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Chef who wants your feedback

This seems to fit well here: ... -allergies
A chef who gets it!

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