WOW Stories: “The Westin” FAL’s 3-Day Hotel Special #1

Sharing positive experiences of dining at hotel restaurants with international chains has the power to inspire, motivate and reinforce the efforts of the staff. Recognizing a chef who offered an exemplary dining experience sends more travelers with special dietary needs to the hotel chain.

As a world traveler with tree nut allergies I always exchange emails with the hotel’s General Manager and Executive Chef prior to my arrival (I highly recommend this).

My experiences at many locations of The Westin both domestic and abroad have been delightful.

The WOW Story!!

I arrived at The Westin at 2:00 AM local time, after a long international flight. I was thrilled to be greeted at check-in by the Head Chef. We sat down, and he made a note of all the dietary restrictions, cross contamination issues, etc.

He then had the concierge enter the information into their system. This alerted all the kitchen staff on EVERY shift.

The next morning, at breakfast, when the hostess sat me down, she informed the Executive Chef of my arrival.

The Executive Chef made an extra effort to make himself available at all times and personally took responsibility for every meal. He enquired and reassured me that he would personally cook those exotic dishes on the menu, while keeping them allergy safe, as he wanted me to enjoy the various cuisines.

As a backup a chef was assigned just for me, on every shift.

The entire team, especially the food service folks were friendly, helpful and inviting.

Every meal was a legendary experience.

As someone with tree nut allergies the huge array of delicious desserts are usually off limits. Seeing the chef’s passion to rise to the challenge and his demonstrated experience over my week long stay, I even got to enjoy the sublime texture and glorious flavor of some exotic desserts.

I came back with a deep sense of gratitude for that personal touch that made my stay at The Westin, Gurgaon, India a unique, positive and memorable experience!

Disclaimer: As always, be sure to communicate your allergies to the restaurant staff to the extent that YOU are comfortable with the way they are handled. For guidance in this matter we recommend our App, AllergySmartz.

**We hope you enjoyed the first installment of FAL’s 3-Day “WOW Stories” Special about Allergy-Friendly Hotels. The second installment will be out TOMORROW at 4:00 PM EST! Stay Tuned!

 

 

 

Planning a Vacation? Download AllergySmartz!

Spring Break vacations coming up? Planning your next vacation?

Don’t forget to download our App, AllergySmartz before your next trip! AllergySmartz is a mobile app for iPhone and Android designed to help communicate food allergies/precautions needed for safe food preparation to restaurant staff here, and abroad.

AllergySmartz currently features the top 12 allergens (milk, egg, wheat, soy, peanuts, legumes/pulses, tree nut, fish, shellfish: mollusks, shellfish: crustaceans, mustard, and sesame) and 13 languages to translate the allergy warning statements into (English, Japanese, Vietnamese, Spanish, Hindi, French, Arabic, Russian, Hungarian, German, Bahasa Indonesian, and Italian). 

AllergySmartz allows users to indulge in international cuisine and feel comfortable trying new foods by overcoming language barriers to communicate safety precautions about food allergies to chefs, in a variety of languages. Furthermore, AllergySmartz can be used anywhere on the globe – it requires NO internet access!

Don’t forget to download AllergySmartz on the iTunes or Google Play Store TODAY! Enjoy and indulge in your next vacation 🙂

Google Play: https://goo.gl/qM0ZZ9
iTunes: https://goo.gl/dsti2N

Girl Scout Cookies!

cookies

Hey Everyone! Do you LOVE Girl Scout Cookies? Have you always wanted to try then but couldn’t because of allergies? Well check it out! They are actually extremely allergy friendly!

By visiting the website, http://www.girlscouts.org/en/cookies/all-about-cookies/Meet-the-Cookies.html, one can easily see which allergens each cookie contains or may contain, and any variances that occur by bakery. Though some of the cookies do have peanuts, there are plenty of options that are safe for those with peanut allergies.

As someone with tree nut allergies, I can enjoy ALL the cookies except Savannah Smiles which has a cross-contamination risk.

Girl Scout Cookies truly do live up to their fame – there is a delicious diversity of cookie options that are all pleasing to the palate! If you’ve never had Girl Scout Cookies, I recommend exploring their website and ordering some that suit your allergies, before they stop selling for the season!

Food Allergy Lowdown (FAL) In The New Year

After months of studying our viewership, Food Allergy Lowdown has determined a 2016 schedule:

With the exception of special events, a new blog will be published every Wednesday at 4:00 PM EST, starting next week.

We will address a variety of topics, from daily allergy-safe living, to tips for special occasions, and recommendations for unique products.

As always, if there’s a topic you’d like addressed or would like to share any feedback, simply comment or contact us at allergysmartz@gmail.com.

We have a lot of special projects planned for 2016 – don’t forget to subscribe to the blog through WordPress or with your email, like AllergySmartz on Facebook, and follow @AllergySmartz on twitter for the latest information.

BONUS Restaurant Week Reveal

Thank you, FAL readers, for your kind responses about FAL’s Restaurant Week! As promised, here is the bonus post.

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Unique dining experiences are often limited for those with food allergies.

Can you imagine a meal where the chef cooks at your table, tossing knives into their hats, making eggs in the shape of chickens and onion trains with smoke? The Hibachi Grill experience is one of a kind, and Benihana understands that food allergies shouldn’t impede anyone from enjoying it!

 

In addition to standard questions such as “How many are in your party?”, the Host asks every group that comes in whether anyone in the party has food allergies. They promptly make a note in the system so the waiter can advise you on allergy-safe options.

You must be wondering, what do they do about cross-contamination if everyone in my party’s meal is cooked on the same hot grill? Well, not only is the grill heated to such high temperatures that any protein residues from previous diners would not be a concern for cross-contamination, but they also clean the grill very thoroughly between groups. Furthermore, they cook your meal first, to avoid cross-contamination with other diners’ orders. If multiple people in your party have allergies further precautions are taken to ensure each meal is safe.

In general it is difficult to try Japanese and Asian food when you have food allergies. However, Benihana offers me so many safe options of traditional cuisine to try. I’ve had such a good experience with them that I have had many celebrations at the restaurant, because I was confident in their abilities.

The following statement is taken from one of their INTERNATIONAL menus, for Abu Dhabi:

Dear guests, we kindly request you to advise us if you are allergic to any of the menu items and we will be more than willing to adjust our menu in order for you to enjoy an allergy free dining experience with us.

Though I’ve never personally dined at an international Benihana location, it seems as though their staff around the world are well-equipped to deal with food allergies.

Whether you’re looking for a fun dining experience or celebrating a special occasion, Benihana is the place to be!

 

 

Disclaimer: As always, be sure to communicate your allergies to the restaurant staff to the extent that YOU are comfortable with the way they are handling them. For guidance in this matter we recommend our App, AllergySmartz.

Special Superbowl Restaurant! Reveal #7

greene turtle

 

Need BIG GAME party help that is allergy friendly? There is still time! Whether you’re a Bronco or a Panther, why not head over to the Greene Turtle Sports Bar and Grille for a truly SUPER time!

Grab some chicken tenders and pulled pork sandwiches [take full credit for preparing such a delicious spread – it’ll be our secret ;)]. They have party platter menus too!

Check out their allergy menu for more options here: http://thegreeneturtle.com/media/files/additional_menus/menu-allergen.pdf

Most people with food allergies aren’t able to try desserts like chocolate volcanoes or brownie sundaes, but Greene Turtle makes it a point to offer allergy-friendly alternatives for these – and they are scrumptious!

So sit back, and enjoy your Big Game party!

Due to the overwhelmingly positive response about FAL Restaurant Week there will be a bonus post tomorrow! Tune in 🙂

Disclaimer: As always, be sure to communicate your allergies to the restaurant staff to the extent that YOU are comfortable with the way they are handling them. For guidance in this matter we recommend our App, AllergySmartz.

Restaurant Week Reveal #6

rainforest

Kids will agree, Rainforest Café is the place to be!

The dining experience is one of a kind – the whole restaurant transports you to a lively forest where the orangutans, elephants, gorillas and more bring your meal to life through animatronics! It’s not just for kids – everyone will enjoy the unique ambiance!

Whether you visit for a birthday party, celebration, or just to have a fun visit, the opportunity to enjoy some python pasta or eat a sparkling volcano dessert cannot be passed up!

Having visited locations all across the US, I’ve always had a positive experience – the restaurant staff do their absolute best to make an allergy safe meal that is not only delicious and safe, but also fun and keeps with the theme of the restaurant.

Read more: http://www.rainforestcafe.com/

Stay tuned for the final post of FAL Restaurant Week tomorrow!

Disclaimer: As always, be sure to communicate your allergies to the restaurant staff to the extent that YOU are comfortable with the way they are handling them. For guidance in this matter we recommend our App, AllergySmartz.

Restaurant Week Reveal #5

chili

Day 5 of FAL Restaurant Week is upon us!

Chili’s is by far one of my favorite go-to restaurants, especially for Tex-Mex! With such a great variety of options, there is always something new to try.

Chili’s offers an amazing group dining experience – while you order separate meals you can still share with your fellow diners. I especially love ordering something like tacos or fajitas where I get to indulge more in the experience by self-assembling my meal.

But don’t be frightened! Though it is a group dining experience, the staff are cautious and well informed of allergies and are happy to make the entire group’s entree allergy-safe so you can join in!

The staff at Chili’s is so welcoming everytime I go – definitely a restaurant to try!

Wondering what you’ll have when you visit? Check out their allergy menu here: http://www.chilis.com/en/locationspecificpdf/menupdf/001.005.0000/chilis%20allergen%20generic.pdf?AspxAutoDetectCookieSupport=1

We hope you have been enjoying restaurant week so far! Tune in tomorrow for more 🙂

 

Disclaimer: As always, be sure to communicate your allergies to the restaurant staff to the extent that YOU are comfortable with the way they are handling them. For guidance in this matter we recommend our App, AllergySmartz.

Food Allergy Lowdown (FAL) Is Going Red!!

logo_red

On February 5th, 2016, in honor of The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease, Food Allergy Lowdown is going Red!

Heart disease kills 1 in 3 women but is 80% preventable!

Wear red to show your support for Women with Cardiac Diseases. But, don’t just dress up – donate to the cause!

Check out the Campaign Website for more information: https://www.goredforwomen.org/wear-red-day/