Several versions of a chef card exist but they all serve the same purpose - to alert the chef and restaurant staff of food allergies and to provide instructions on preparing a "safe" meal. I had never used one and wondered what chefs really think when they receive them.
I posed this question to the chefs on two forums for culinary professionals and this is what I learned:
While chefs in the middle of a busy dinner service might roll their eyes at the sight of a chef's card, they are still mostly accepted as helpful tools of communication between customer, chef and restaurant staff.
Chefs seem to appreciate them the most when used after the patron calls the restaurant ahead of time. If you aren't able to call ahead, however, don't throw the this helpful tool in the trash. It can still serve its purpose.
After discussing these cards on the forums, I decided to take the feedback that I received and create one of my own. It differs from others in that it includes a space for jotting down three dishes that are of interest to you. The chef can then consider three dishes, rather than the entire menu, and choose which one can be prepared safely. Here are a few tips to make using these even more effective:
For more tips on eating out, click here.
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