Milk, eggs, and nuts may seem like harmless pantry fare to most, yet these are the top food allergens in the world that cause mild to severe allergic reactions if ingested by the wrong people. While not as prevalent in Southeast Asia, the number of food allergy cases are rising year on year and it’s high time food establishments take some effort in ensuring their diners are made aware of any allergen risks in their food. Here are some of the steps you can take to accommodate these sensitive requests:
Be transparent with your ingredients. List down known allergens in each of your dishes so your diners are fully informed and can go for other options if necessary. To take it a step further, you can create a separate menu sheet that accommodates allergen replacements so your guests can enjoy their favourite foods without having to worry.
In the kitchen, make sure your cooks are equipped with substitution lists or alternate recipe sheets so they can readily accommodate such requests.
Training and educating servers/staff
Start educating your servers to enquire about food allergies, ingredient intolerance, or dietary restrictions before taking orders. Certain guests may feel embarrassed to reveal their condition voluntarily, so it’s the server's duty to politely ask to avoid any unwanted incidents.
If the kitchen is unequipped to handle the guest’s request, make sure your servers stay polite and accommodating. Suggest possible alternatives, or find a way to enhance the dining experience in other ways. It is better to be hospitable to guests at all times rather than denying their patronage outright. A good word from one person can go a long way.
Implement a system to flag special menu items
Make sure your front and back of house staff are coordinated in terms of addressing these requests. A simple change in procedure can do the trick – for example, whenever you get an order from an allergen-sensitive customer, colour code it. This way, your cooks know to prepare this customer’s meal with separate utensils and equipment to avoid the risk of cross contamination.
Following these basic guidelines ensure a pleasant, stress-free dining experience for your customers. Knowing their basic requests are being valued goes a long way to ensure a pleasurable dining experience.