By:Â Allana Mortell
There is no denying the prevalence of recent discussions about food allergies, gluten intolerances and treatment of both. We are all aware food allergies are on the rise but something less talked about is how restaurants are adapting their menus to deal with such allergies. Gluten-free menus are bursting onto the scene and those in the service industry are certainly becoming more knowledgeable on how to handle preparing dishes that are satisfying to the customer without compromising their health. With that said, proper communication between servers, kitchen staff, restaurant managers and the customer is absolutely vital.
For allergen and gluten intolerant individuals to have a complete dining experience, there must be a collaborative process between the guests and restaurants. In their 2005 book, Kim Koeller and Robert La France created a manual, the “Bible,” if you will, for those with allergies and intolerances looking to dine out of their home. “Lets Eat Out! The Allergy Free Passport,” was recently updated with a third edition this past year and features a whirlwind of tips, menu items, and questions all geared towards an objective of enjoying a safe experience regardless of restaurant, cuisine or location.
The book is a leader for the “Gluten Free Passport,” which features different types of print and online articles geared towards a two-fold vision Koeller and LaFrance had so many years ago. First, to educate restaurants, travel providers and food manufacturers to cater to the needs of gluten, allergen and special diet customers while also empowering individuals to safely live, eat and travel while managing their allergies, sensitivities, diabetes and vegan or vegetarian diets.
The updated version of the book features 175 menu items in seven of the worlds most popular ethnic cuisines: American, Chinese, French, Indian, Italian, Mexican and Thai food and ten of the most common allergies: corn, dairy, eggs, fish, gluten, nuts, peanuts, shellfish, soy and wheat. Additionally, the book covers over 300 questions to ask about particular foods and allergies, while simultaneously featuring tips courtesy of chefs, nutritional and culinary experts and experienced eaters with long-term allergies. A focal point of the book is the freedom it gives to readers to make healthy and smart choices about what they want to eat and what they can and should be eating.
For the authors, the collaborative process between the restaurant and the guest begins with efforts from both sides. The allergy-free planning effort begins with education about dining outside the home and continues with tableside communication at the restaurant. The dramatic growth for dietary menus in restaurants is due to a number of factors. Most importantly, the awareness of these diseases and sensitivities eventually drives more restaurants to request that guests notify them upon dining of any food concerns. With that said, a recent study showed that 92% of gluten, wheat and allergen guests will return frequently to the same restaurant after a positive dining experience.
Lisa Felix, from “The Library Journal,” highly recommends “Lets Eat Out!,” because of its “detailed analysis of ingredients, preparation techniques, information about restaurant dining and airline meals and translation cards to indicate food preferences in various languages.” The success of the book is certainly growing and with this recent third edition available in stores now, the hope is that those with allergies, intolerances, and the like will feel much more comfortable in their dining out and travel experiences. Lets Eat Out! is available in bookstores, Amazon.com and for those tablet handy,the book comes in e-book form as well.
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