Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Is Your Restaurant Allergy Safe?

How does a restaurant keep their customers with food allergies safe and happy? 
They listen to Chef Keith Norman

I had the honor of reading a preview of Chef Keith Norman's book due to be published soon titled Allergen Awareness A Chef''s Perspective ... it's so new, I can't even share the cover! Beginning with his very first sentence "The reality that a life can be lost by eating a certain food item should be motivation enough for training, advocacy and spreading awareness." I knew he put his heart and soul into it. Although Keith's book is written as an amazing manual for food allergy safety, it's so much more than that. Keith shares some of his own family life including heart-warming tidbits about Big Ma and a toe... I could tell you, but you will have to grab a copy and find out.

Who This Book is Written For Although Keith's book contains bunches of chef/dining/waitstaff information, I feel this book is also a wonderful guide for anyone having to learn about food allergies and safe food preparation. No kitchen, group or staff is too big or too small to have such a precise understanding of down-to-earth information coupled with cross-contamination tactics that may surprise you. Keith keeps everything in simple steps so that everyone can utilize his years of experience within the food allergy community.

Why You Need This Book 
  • He includes testimonials from parents as well as others that he has worked alongside and all share how much dedication Keith gives to keeping all of his customers safe and well fed
  • Chef Keith has an impressive list of food memberships, awards and recognitions that clearly prove his dedication
  • Offers scenarios for customer and waiter situations (this includes how to say no to a customer)
  • Step by step instructions for procedures as well as signage
  • Samples of banquet and catering allergen guest lists as a starting point for allergy newbies
  • Recipes
  • Even more crucial allergy safety information that will get any kitchen ready to feed safely
What I Love About This Book Many of us can get confused with all of the food allergy information that we need to learn and can easily make a mistake without thinking about it. For instance, Chef Keith takes the precautions list a step further away from the kitchen. When you travel or when you have a food allergic guest, do you also consider the spreading of allergens in areas such as the waitstaff, concession stands, front desk or valet? Keith points out that our kitchens can be ready for safety but unless everyone is on board, that valet who was snacking on nuts and then shook your hand could mean the end of a stay before it's even begun.

Chef Keith and I at the Food Allergy Blogger Conference

My Favorite Quotes Throughout his book, Chef Keith uses statements that are so very strong but also so very specific and to the point- with food allergies, this is an absolute must. For anyone to understand how to keep someone safe with food allergies, there needs to be a perfect mixture of compassion, professionalism and a touch of subtlety. This book touches on all of those points. As a parent of a child with multiple food allergies, I read his book and found myself continuously nodding my head wishing more people could be in this mindset. Some of my personal favorites include

"One allergen affects the entire family and every friend."

"We have created a heart centered culture, an environment, a safe place for food allergic guests."

"Treat all allergies the same- a mushroom allergy should be handled the same way a peanut allergy is handled."

"Proactive is not a reactive approach."

Final Thoughts I will admit, I am personally biased. I met Chef Kieth a few years back and I admittedly knew he was just the type of person that always wanted a hug and to feed everyone safely. I have never seen him give anything less than 100% and anyone who is meeting him for the first time will absolutely feel the exact same way. If you are a person with food allergies or a parent of a child with food allergies, connect with him and you will understand. If you are an organization or a dining facility that is in need of guidance without flaw, contact him and he will exceed your expectations. You can find Keith on Twitter as well as LinkedIn and if you are in Las Vegas, stop in and see him at the South Point Hotel and Casino.  One thing is for sure- Keith will keep you safe but he will also make sure you are in his heart for life.


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