Written by Tamara Green
You are travelling in Europe. This is it; your dream vacation and you want to enjoy the authentic Italian cuisine just like the natives do. But there is one tiny problem, you don’t speak the language, not an iota. It is okay though thousands of tourists order food from foreign countries every minute, every second and they don’t know the language either. But there is another tiny problem, actually a very big problem, you have dietary restrictions.
Now what, how do you tell your waiter/ess that you need gluten-free pasta? I mean how do you really break the language barrier to communicate the severity, the intensity of your reaction?
“What seems so simple in communicating your dietary restrictions, is unfortunately complicated.”
I had the pleasure of interviewing Kyle Dine, CEO Equal Eats (formerly “Allergy Transitions), Kingston this weekend. We agree hardily of the point of “what seems so simple in communicating your dietary restrictions, is unfortunately complicated.”
While I have been a professional chef for less than a decade, many a seasoned chef (a little pun) has asked me why everyone has allergies all of the sudden. To a chef who just wants to cook how he has always cooked, allergies may seem like a hip fad for picky eaters. There is a lot more to it.
“A dietary communication card can help convey a serious message in a credible, detailed and memorable way, reducing the chance of information falling through the cracks in busy foodservice settings.” Mr. Dine commented.
If you read my post Dining Out: Tips for Safely Staying Gluten-Free you will know I recommend allergy cards as the number #1 method of assuring a safe and satisfying meal out on the town.
Allergy cards don’t replace verbal communication with your server, however, from Kyle Dine’s experiences, from my own experiences, solely relying on verbal communication does not produce effect results.
Kyle Dine elaborated on this point, “Often it comes down to a game of food allergy broken telephone. When we looked at the statistics such as over three quarters of adults having allergic reactions when dining out, or oven 90% experiencing anxiety when eating outside the home, we can’t help but wonder if there could be a better way to stay safe and enjoy food. Dietary communication cards can add another layer of protection.”
Mr. Dine has a vested interest in these cards, he has had food allergies since the ‘80s. More than that his wife has celiac disease. Seeing the personal need for dietary communication cards within his own home, CEO Dine made the leap to launching Equal Eats, reasoning they weren’t the only dietary restricted persons in the world. They felt like they cannot simply enjoy food like everyone else, especially when travelling; that means that others and experiencing the same feelings, relating over the same need.
Since 2006, Mr. Dine has been providing a solution to those feelings, that need through this company Equal Eats, originally “Allergy Translations.”
The impact has been affirming, fulfilling. “Many grateful families have shared how our products have provided peace of mind when travelling, and for some, it was the catalyst for even booking the ticket to go.” Reports Kyle Dine. “Travelling should be enjoyable, and we try to help make it easier for people with dietary restrictions to have less stress and worry, so they can experience more joy abroad.”
Okay, so maybe you’ve read this far and are saying, “Okay this sounds great but I am not planning on travelling abroad anytime soon.” If that is you, I get it, I am not planning any trips either. But get this important point, this freeing point for the dietary restricted: allergy communication cards are usefully locally too!
Kyle Dine and I both have six allergens so I feel like he is speaking for both of us when he said (referencing his allergens), “I don’t expect any server to remember them, nor write them down 100% accurately unless they really make an attempt. Often, they think my peanut and tree nut allergy are one in the same, and [that] sets up a potential erroneous chain of communication. A dietary card lays out the exact allergy/avoidances so the necessary information can be given to the kitchen staff. I don’t like feeling like a burden when dining out, and I feel my card actually makes their jobs easier – they truly appreciate the cards!”
Yes, Mr. Dine we (in the biz) truly do appreciate them.
Restaurants are busy places, your cooks are making ten, twenty meals all at once. Your server is handling five, ten tables each with two, five people seated. Take it from me, a cook, it is a struggle just to remember ingredients in a normal dish when the dining room is buzzing. When you start adding special requests, dietary restrictions your routine gets messed up, your memory forms gaps and that can lead to flukes causing allergic reactions.
The cross-contact message on Equal Eats cards provided and particularly beneficial facet as many wait staff and cooks are still very allergy illiterate. On their digital card pages they feature info on accidental contamination as well as helpful links to training resources.
I was really curious about the translation aspect of the cards. I my mind I imagined some stranger, dropping words into Google translate and presto you have a translation! I am relieved, encouraged that is not how Mr. Dine’s team operated. First of all, it is a team, not just one man who creates your card. Secondly it is a team of professionals.
“We hire outstanding translations agencies, then do a full proofread of all translations.” Kyle Dine continued highlighting this fact, “What sets Equal Eats apart, is that we do a full second proofread with native speakers to make sure nothing is missed, and that the translations work for everyday speakers [not just the academic].”
On their website, www.equaleats.com, they offer multiple formats: physical and digital. Digital based on a QR code system; offers you access to vastly more info, constantly updated info, than can fit on a business card physical card. The physical on the other hand carry a sense of seriousness about them and workers take note of.
For more information and chance to ask personalized questions of the service, I encourage you to visit equaleats.com
6 REASONS EVERYONE WITH AN ALLERGY YOU SHOULD CONSIDER ALLERGY COMMUNICATION CARDS:
- A dietary communication card can help convey a serious message in a credible, detailed and memorable way.
- They reduce the chance of information falling through the cracks in busy foodservice settings.
- They provided peace of mind when travelling, and for some, it was the catalyst for even booking the ticket to go.
- A dietary card lays out the exact allergy/avoidances so the necessary information can be given to the kitchen staff.
- The cross-contact message on Equal Eats cards provided and particularly beneficial facet as many wait staff and cooks are still very allergy illiterate.
- Equal Eats hires outstanding translations agencies, then do a full proofread of all translations by native speakers.