Food Allergy Consulting: Speaking with the Graduating Students of the Careers through Culinary Arts Program

Last week, I was honored to speak with 45 culinary students from around New York City. They are part of a program called Careers through Culinary Arts Program which augments high schoolers who attend vocational culinary schools with internships, access to further culinary training, job training, college advising and scholarships. The Careers through Culinary Arts Program stated mission: " Careers through Culinary Arts Program’s mission is to promote and provide career opportunities in the foodservice industry for underserved youth through culinary arts education and employment."

We met on the grounds of the Institute for Culinary Education, formerly the Peter Kump school, where I had taken a cooking class immersion into French technique back in the early 90s. (Cooking tip: how you can get perfectly moist roasted chicken with crackly skin every time? Separate the skin from the flesh gently and rub butter on the raw chicken flesh before roasting. Works every time.

We talked about food allergies and their definitions; myths and perceptions and best practices for the both the front of house and back of house staffs. Many of these students will become prep cooks, line cooks, sous chefs and many hope to become executive chefs. Food allergies are not taught in cooking school regularly; there is a short section in the National Restaurant Association’s ServSafe course (a few pages long with accurate information) but that is not a mandatory course for anyone who works in food service. (NB: National Restaurant Association is coming out with a national program for managers about food allergies this month. Stay tuned for more details.)

Not surprisingly, in the group of over of 45 eighteen year olds, atopic disease was prevalent: several had allergies, several had asthma, many had eczema and a few learned that they had Oral Allergy Syndrome. Three students had diagnosed food allergies, all with typical IgE mediated symptoms (facial edema, throat closing, hives, wheezing) from various ingredients. One student had an antibiotic allergy, again fairly common, but she had never heard of anyone else with a medicine allergy before.

When asked at the end what they learned about food allergies that they didn’t know before, they said:
  • Anyone can be allergic to anything at any time
  • Food allergies are on the rise
  • Food allergies are real and serious

Thank you,  Careers through Culinary Arts Program for the opportunity to speak to these young minds and put a face to food allergies!


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