by Chef Mick Brown
Courtesy of www.bbqrescues.org
As long as you are not allergic to meat or fresh vegetables, there is no reason a person with allergies cannot eat BBQ. The important thing is to be conscious of all ingredients being used, and to guard against cross contamination. While judging my first World Food Championships last week, I got to attend a seminar called Addressing Allergies in Food Service. It was a half day program including experts: Dr. Ruchi Gupta, MD and Celebrity Chef Elizabeth Falkner (of Food Network’s Next Iron Chef and Bravo TV’s Top Chef Masters fame). The seminar was skillfully moderated by Tonya Winders, President & CEO of Allergy & Asthma Network.
Of course the highlight was tasting food made by Chef Falkner, who is also known for her famous San Fransisco restaurant Citizen Cake. It was one of my favorite go-to places whenever I visited the city (the Short Ribs were amazing). Unfortunately they closed in 2012, when the chef relocated to New York City. While preparing two dishes (plus dessert), Dr. Gupta, Chef Falkner and Tonya Winders gave us the scoop on cooking for people with Food Allergies.
Yes, they kind enough to do Photo Ops, upon request.
Though Gluten Free foods have taken the public spotlight, the eight most common allergies are:
- Tree Nuts
- Other common allergens include Chocolate, Mustard Seed, Sesame, Citrus, Onion/Garlic and Sulfites.
Most of us are fortunate to live without food allergies. However, people with allergies suffer from anaphylaxis, a condition that can go from causing discomfort to life threatening reactions. They depend on having Epinephrine available to combat these reactions. So if you are cooking anything, including BBQ, for someone with an allergy, please take it very seriously. To be safe, it is best to make everything from scratch instead of using processed foods- that can be manufactured in facilities with Nuts or Wheat. If you must use prepared foods, be sure to read the label carefully.
Sadly, some restaurants and other eateries will not accommodate those with allergies. They think allergic people are just picky eaters. Moderator Winders shared the sad story of she and her young daughter being kicked out of a restaurant that refused to alter their menu. If you are cooking for those with allergies, be sure to determine how sensitive they are to certain foods. For example, many Pizza places offer Gluten Free crusts, but there’s regular flour all over the place. Someone with severe Celiac disease would be wise to take a pass.
Chef Falkner’s menu for the day included Gluten Free Roasted Pumpkin Gnocchi with a Chia Herb Pesto and Zesty Roasted Pumpkin Seeds. It was light and delicious. She also made a salad with components of her Collard Green Enchiladas dish. The original recipe uses whole Collard leaves as a substitute for Tortillas, but only chopped leaves were available that day. For dessert, the chef prepared a Chocolate Flax Seed Mousse with Carob/Mesquite Streusel. She somehow made the preparation of these Iron Chef worthy dishes look simple.
For more on Cooking BBQ (or anything) for People with Food Allergies, check out these links:
Allergy and Asthma Network (general information and resources) http://www.allergyasthmanetwork.org/
Allergy Safe Dining (free download of great info for food professionals) http://www.allergyasthmanetwork.org/outreach/publications/special-publications/allergy-safe-dining/
AllergyHome (emphasis on schools and kids) https://www.allergyhome.org/
Summer Barbeque Tips for Hosts and Guests (allergy safe suggestions) https://www.foodallergy.org/about-fare/blog/summer-barbeque-tips-for-hosts-and-guests
Have an Allergy Friendly Barbecue (more tips for people with allergies) https://blog.americanmedical-id.com/2017/07/allergy-friendly-barbecue/
Eating Safely at the Family BBQ (Gluten Free suggestions) https://www.allergicliving.com/2010/07/02/ask-the-celiac-expert/
More on Chef Elizabeth Falkner’s Books and Online Classes https://www.elizabethfalkner.com/books-television
The Food Allergy Experience (book by Dr. Ruchi Gupta with free links to allergy research) http://www.ruchigupta.com/the-food-allergy-experience-1/
Tasty Freedom- How We Mastered Fear, Illness and Foreign Travel with Severe Food Allergies (a charming little book by my friend Chef Jaquy Yngvason and hubby Josh Greenfield, available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other outlets) https://www.amazon.com/Tasty-Freedom-Mastered-Illness-Allergies/dp/0692982825
AllergyEats- website is like the Yelp for people all over the country for reviewing restaurants https://www.allergyeats.com/