Recently I went to The Spa at Norwich Inn for a few days of rest and pampering after a long wonderful book launch and tour. On the website there was a tab that couldn’t have made me happier: a direct line to the Executive Chef.
I sent an email asking if the chef felt comfortable handling food allergies. Chef Daniel Chong replied and said yes, he was happy to make any accommodations. I sent him my list of cans and can'ts and he replied, cc’ing everyone of his kitchen staff so they were aware of me, my needs and my arrival. He also asked that I contact him when I arrived on the property.
After I checked into my room, he met me in the lobby wherein we sat down for thirty minutes and created a menu for my every meal. He created a closed plastic bin with my name on it in the kitchen where he stored separate salt, pepper, olive oil, tongs and new pans just for me. (I know, wow!) He thanked me for letting them know my needs before my visit; he said it makes all the difference. He also gave me his cell number to call him anytime if there were any questions or issues and he wasn't on site. (I know, double wow!) Every meal was done to safe perfection whether he was on site or not (he was only around during certain shifts).
It was completely four-star treatment. I was thrilled, and most importantly, relaxed on my spa trip because of his efforts. Traveling with food allergies is stressful. I’m always wondering where my next safe meal is going to be and I eat small meals five times a day. Dining safely anywhere you go, especially when you travel, is the ideal. And you can make it happen with a few food allergy easy steps. I talk about this more extensively in my book but here are some beginning steps.
--Understand your diagnosis i.e. know what you can and cannot eat, have an allergy action plan, know when and how to use your medications, have your medications on you at all times
--Contact your hotel ahead of time – a week or so ahead of travel
--Ask to contact the executive chef directly if possible
--When you speak with the chef, ask how they feel handling handle food allergies
--If they say they are happy to accommodate you, discuss or better yet, email your CAN list along with your CANNOT list
--Check in with the chef when you are site
--Use your pleases and thank yous and smile lots
--Go over your menu plans
--When you dine reiterate your needs to the chef or server
--Use a chef card if you have one (I like Jim’s Selectwisely – chefs love them)
Any of you traveling this summer? If so, have you reached out to the chefs yet? Do it – they want to hear from you!
Thank you again Chef Daniel Chong at The Spa at Norwich Inn for making my stay such a plesant and safe one.