Thursday, November 20, 2008

Things Are Still Nutty on "Top Chef," but the CIA Has Us Covered!

As someone who loves to cook, I'm a big fan of the reality show "Top Chef" on Bravo, yet as the mom of a nut-allergic child, I'm often appalled at the culinary atrocities committed with peanut butter and nuts in the name of "top chefdom."

I'm still haunted by Lisa's "Peanut Butter Mashed Potatoes" from last season (ugh!) not to mention Stephanie's tomato and peanut butter concoction that was supposed to be made just for kids. Horrors! Then, Stephanie Izard, last season's winner, had the judges in rapture at the finale over "braised pistachios" served with lamb.

This is concerning to me, not because I want to hinder any one's creativity in the kitchen, but because I wonder what it indicates for future eating trends in restaurants. Of course, adding more nuts to restaurant menus means less choices in dining and more danger for my daughter.

As the new "TC" season began, I waited to see how the cheftestants would try to stick nuts in their recipes and I didn't have to wait long. The chef booted off last night even used pecans in her quiche!! And for the "New American" restaurant menu challenge last night, one of the chefs served a form of peanut butter sandwich as dessert. Oh, great. As if I didn't have those staring me in the face everywhere I go in the first place! I'm not looking for PB&J in fine dining, even if I didn't have allergy concerns.

Unfortunately, "New America" (our kids) is peanut- and tree-nut allergic in increasing quantities. While I love dining out myself, I always think twice when I take my daughter and watching these "rising star" chefs stick peanuts and nuts everywhere puts me on alert. I've often wondered if or how the big culinary schools, such as Culinary Institute of America (CIA), is preparing their new chefs to deal with food allergies.

Luckily, the food allergy community has a fearless leader that is helping make restaurants safer for us as I write this. Recently, AllergicGirl posted that she helped the CIA prepare educational materials for their students. Hurray for Sloane Miller (aka Allergic Girl)!!! Here is the link to Allergic Girl's blog post about her new video. As a food-allergic adult who lives her life joyfully and attends restaurants frequently, Sloane is a wonderful role model for us and our kids. I applaud her for this and for all the other things she does.

If you're interested in seeing what the CIA has to say, here is the link to their food allergy page:
So even though Top Chef may be nuttier than ever, at least new chefs are getting training in food allergies, thanks to people like Sloane. And that's a huge step in the right direction!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

peanut butter mashed potatoes...what's the point?? glad to see the cia on top of if we can just get the fda and usda on board... :)