It’s a busy time of year, which is exactly why everyone involved in food preparation and serving needs to be on alert for diners with food allergies. As special seasonal items are added to the menu, mistakes may be more likely to happen. To complicate manners, many of your regular diners may invite families and friends to join in meals.
The best preparation for handling food allergies is knowing the menu thoroughly, including all of the ingredients and food prep steps. Consider creating one or two holiday dishes on the menu that are free from the top 8 allergens. This will offer an easy option for over 90 percent of your allergen-sensitive diners.
The main reason people are accidentally exposed to allergens is through cross contact. Prepare allergen meal with clean and sanitized pots, pans, and utensils. Think through all the steps when making food for diners with food allergies, making sure there is no contamination along the way with shared water, oil, utensils, preparation surfaces, equipment, gloves, cutting boards, or other items.
Make sure the entire staff knows the ingredients for any special menu items being added during the holiday season. Consider having the list of ingredients in print form for any holiday items added to the menu for easy reference for staff and diners.
If you are having an event with many new special guests, it can be helpful to ask about any dietary restrictions or food allergies in advance. If a diner has multiple food allergies, ask what foods or ingredients they CAN have. This will make it easier for the cook to put together a safe dish for the customer.
Double En Papillote (double wrapping food in foil or parchment paper and baking in an oven) is an great way to prepare special dishes for your allergen sensitive customers. Unwrap the outer layer of foil or parchment and serve the dish with the inside layer (just in case the outer layer was in contact with allergens inside of the oven).