Using Chef Cards for Food Allergies at Restaurants

I often talk with great enthusiasm about using chef cards for food allergies at restaurants. Let me tell you why…

It works, helps everyone involved, and has assisted me in traveling successfully all over the world with my many food allergies.

When I started frequently traveling growing up, we started using chef cards. My parents and I made our own and at the time we probably called it an “allergy card” or something like that. If we were traveling out of the country we would have all of my allergies translated. My parents would ask friends to help and somehow we would end up with a paper of translation with my allergens on it. Since then it has actually become a more well-known term in the allergy world. For consistency, I also now refer to mine as a chef card.

So, what exactly is a Chef Card?

A chef card is a card that has a note to the chef explaining the precautions that are necessary to take in the kitchen with a list of your allergens. It can be given to the manager, chef, and server to make everyone aware.

Why do I like using a Chef Card?

Honestly, it makes everyone’s job easier! It reduces the stress of making sure the server or manager has written everything down and understands the severity. With a chef card everything is already there in writing. Restaurants love them! I have never had any server, manager, or chef get annoyed by a chef card. Usually they are thankful for it. Take a look here.

This video clip is from this past weekend at brunch. The server came out to me from the kitchen gushing about how everyone (manager and chef included) loved my chef card. I had to stop him and ask if I could video because it was exactly what I want all of you to hear!

So where can I find a chef card?

Personally, I like to make my own (and it helps that I am a teacher who owns a laminator…ha :) There are also free versions on FARE and websites that can make them for you (especially if you need them translated).

Now what?

Go create, laminate and use, then let me know how it goes!  I’ve helped many families over the years create chef cards. If you are one of them, please comment with your experiences! Let everyone know how helpful they can be. During Food Allergy Awareness Month, this is one lifestyle tip that I want to share because I can confidently say it has helped me to dine out at home in Boston and all over the world!

Any questions? Share them below in the comments or on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. I will be writing a follow up post answering your questions.

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  2. Miss Allergic Reactor

    Pamela, I’ll e-mail you.

  3. Pamela Sharpe-Dovbniak

    Would you share your template with us please?

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  15. Miss Allergic Reactor

    I’m really surprised to hear that! Where are you from? I’ve certainly had some surprised looks, but nothing like that. Everyone is always so thankful for the card. I hope you give it another try!

  16. So – we made one for free from vistaprint using a business card template. Very easy to carry. Problem is, whenever we use it, eyes go wide, hands start to shake, and in at least one case, they said, “Never mind, we can’t accommodate you.” It’s almost like, once you put it in writing, they can’t pretend they didn’t know. We stopped using it.

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