By Bracha Zanbar, Client Services Manager, Food Allergy Concierge
One of my jobs at Food Allergy Concierge is to ensure that the restaurants our clients eat at are allergy-safe. This involves a lot of hard work and the full cooperation of the restaurant staff. Usually I have nothing but praise for the hardworking staff who do everything they can to collaborate with me so our clients can enjoy a relaxing allergy-free meal.
Unfortunately, sometimes restaurant staff doesn’t really understand what it means to cook an allergy-free dish. They are convinced that if they just leave the allergens out, that would be sufficient. They don’t know about cross-contact, and are skeptical about it even after it is explained.
On a recent trip, I encountered just such a restaurant. The owner didn’t properly brief the staff, and they didn’t know they were supposed to give me extra time to sterilize before cooking began. The staff wasn’t aware that they had to provide unopened ingredients and I ended up having to go grocery shopping to procure the necessary items! They thought I was exaggerating the danger of contact with allergens and resented my presence in their kitchen. They even thought that I was there to cook!
The attitude and lack of knowledge of the staff led me to be extremely cautious about this meal. I supervised the chef closely and I served all the food at once, so nothing was left unattended in the kitchen.
The family didn’t know any of this was going on. They had come to this restaurant with the goal of enjoying a delicious stress-free meal, and that is what they got.
This experience highlights the importance of the services we offer here at Food Allergy Concierge.
When families with allergies eat out close to home, they can establish relationships with local restaurants and feel safe in the knowledge that the staff has their best interests at heart and that they fully understand what needs to be done to serve them an allergy-free meal. But when they travel (especially internationally) this can be a challenge. Even when the restaurant owner has agreed to make allergy-free food, supervision is necessary to make sure that all precautions are taken to avoid an allergic reaction.
International travel is an opportunity to bond and create family memories that last for years. Families with allergies want and deserve this just as much as everyone else. Food Allergy Concierge’s mission is to alleviate the stress of food preparation and supervision so that you can enjoy your vacation. Click here to learn more about our services.