I was lucky enough to attend the first annual Food Allergy Bloggers Conference in Las Vegas recently, and wanted to share with you what I consider a feat worth noticing: the food.
Chef Keith Norman of the Southpoint Hotel and Casino stepped up to the plate in a big way. I can only imagine his first reaction when learning that the hotel had agreed to host a conference for people that specialize in (and have) multiple food restrictions. I'm sure he wasn't exactly tingling with excitement at the thought of accommodating so many special needs eaters.
But accommodate he did. Chef Norman showed he has mad skillz by providing not just a tasy meal, but an impressive spread of allergy friendly choices that allowed every person there to enjoy a safe meal.
The food was creative and well executed. It made a powerful demonstration that when they so chose, a high quality chef can create fabulous food with minimal ingredients, avoiding allergens without sacrificing flavor. I can not count the number of times my family has dined out and gotten a meal that the chef failed to attempt any type of flavor, including salt or pepper. Plain meat: broiled, plain veggie: steamed, fresh fruit. I appreciate that they are taking our restrictions seriously and avoiding any cross contamination. I appreciate that they aren't taking risks. But, as a chef, if that is the best you can do there is room for professional growth.
I heard people all around the room remarking how wonderful it was to be able to eat the food provided without concern for it's safety. I know I certainly didn't feel deprived, or feel that the food was bland or boring. Bland and boring often happen at allergy conferences when so many dietary restrictions are present and the chef is trying to create a universally safe meal.
Huge accolades to Chef Norman, who has set the bar high for other allergy friendly events. Equal appreciation goes to Sanofi, who sponsored meals, because they know they way to a food bloggers heart is to feed them well! The generous spread at each meal shows that the sponsor and the organizers all recognize that creativity must have proper fuel, and the learning and inspiration happening at this conference would create bodies that need recharged with high quality fuel.
The organizers, Jenny Sprague and Homa Woodrum should be quite proud of the way their hard work came together with the fabulous support of Sanofi and the superb execution of Chef Norman.
Thank you to everyone involved in creating such wonderful and safe food!