Before You Go
There are many choices when dining out and, at times, putting trust into a stranger’s hands can come with its worries and concerns. Early preparation and planning are keys to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. Here are a few steps you can take before you go:
- Explore Allergy-Friendly Establishments: Ask friends for suggestions or utilize the AllergyEats website (allergyeats.com) to locate a highly-rated restaurant in your area. This resource provides reviews and recommendations on allergy-friendly dining establishments and is rated by families, for families.
- Call Ahead: Speaking with kitchen staff and management prior to your arrival will help everyone be prepared. Discuss your concerns, request their food allergy practices and, if possible, ask to meet the chef.
- Meet the Chef: After speaking with management and the chef, select a day to visit the restaurant. Bring your list of safe foods and ingredients and ask if you may provide specific brands for your chef to cook with during your visit. Ask your chef about their experience with cooking for those with food allergies. Help to educate staff about the importance of cross-contamination avoidance.
- Outline Your Safe and Allergic Foods Clearly: Our Dining Out Card is a helpful tool to provide your chef. If laminated, you can also keep this card in your wallet at all times.
TIP: It is also okay to bring your child’s safe foods to the restaurant to dine with family and friends. Prior to arrival, be sure to call the restaurant to alert them that you will be bringing food for your child. If you are comfortable, you may even request that the staff plate your child’s meal from home so that your child can enjoy dining out with family even more.
At the Restaurant
- All in the Timing: Visit the restaurant during quieter and slower dining hours. This will allow your Chef more time to prepare and focus on creating a safe, allergy-free meal. Prior to eating, review your child’s meal plan with the chef and answer any questions he or she may have.
- Be Prepared in the Event of an Emergency: No matter how carefully you have planned and prepared, always carry your Emergency Letter. Anytime you visit a restaurant, no matter how many times you have visited, it is important that you review your meal plan and have an emergency plan in place.
- Where Everyone Knows Your Name: Develop a relationship with your favorite establishments. Showing your appreciation for maintaining the safety of your child helps everyone involved to feel a sense of accomplishment and gratitude. Be sure to tell your chef he or she is doing a good job.