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National Restaurant Association - AllergyEats confab to help operators cater to food-allergic guests

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AllergyEats confab to help operators cater to food-allergic guests

Teaching restaurateurs to better serve food-allergic consumers, make their establishments more allergy-friendly and show them how to profit from catering to this specialized customer base, are the goals of the second annual AllergyEats Food Allergy Conference next month.

The conference, to be held Nov. 5 in Boston, will be moderated by Paul Antico, founder and CEO of AllergyEats, an online allergy-friendly restaurant guide. The event is intended to help foodservice operators better understand and prepare to serve guests who suffer from food allergies.

According to Antico, restaurateurs who figure out how to cater to this group of diners will not only satisfy their clients, but improve their business.

“The basic reason to attend this conference is to alleviate any fears or lack of understanding about how best to accommodate guests who have allergies,” he said. “The truth is, it’s not nearly as hard as it seems. In fact, the most difficult thing is commitment. Once operators understand what they need to do, they’ll see it can also be extremely profitable.

This year’s conference will feature four sessions focusing on food allergy basics and the science behind food allergies, what restaurant operators should know when dealing with allergic diners, the financials involved and a basic training for catering to them.

In addition, the National Restaurant Association, a sponsor of the conference, will provide information about its new ServSafe Allergens program.

Speakers will include:
• Ming Tsai, the celebrity chef and owner-operator of Blue Ginger and Blue Dragon restaurants
• Mike Moomjian, director of quality assurance and food safety at P.F. Chang's China Bistro
• Kevin Harron, founder, president and CEO of Burtons Grill
• William L. Weichelt, director of the National Restaurant Association’s ServSafe and ServSafe Allergens programs
• Betsy Craig, founder and CEO of MenuTrinfo LLC
• Lynda Mitchell, president of the Kids With Food Allergies Foundation
• Michael Pistiner, MD, MMSc, pediatric allergist for Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates and voluntary instructor of pediatrics at Boston Children’s Hospital
• Wayne Shreffler, MD, PhD, director of the food allergy center at Massachusetts General Hospital

“The more restaurateurs and their customers know about allergies, the better it will be for everyone,” Antico said. “This market is growing and, unfortunately, there is no cure remotely in sight. Children make up a much larger part of the food allergy population and we’re also seeing a rise in adult-onset allergies. We know that running a restaurant is a really difficult business, but we want operators to see that this a great opportunity and investment for them. If they don’t capitalize on it, someone else will take that market share away from them.”

Register for the conference here.

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