Harships of food allergies in culinary school
For the next four weeks we'll be covering China, Japan, Thailand and India in International class. And for the next four weeks, I'll be eating nothing. I read ahead and 99.9% of the recipes we'll be making contain soy or legumes - two ingredients to which I'm highly allergic. Thankfully everyone in the class has been wonderful about making sure that what we're cooking doesn't contain soy, but this time it will be impossible to omit soy sauce from the recipes we'll be making without drastically changing the flavor profiles.
I'm debating whether or not to bring in my own faux soy sauce - a concoction of dried mushrooms, beef broth and, of all things, charred onion. It sounds crazy, but the flavor profile is so similar to soy sauce that I've been using it for years when I cook Asian food at home. It requires a long cook time though, and I'm not sure I'll have time to do it before class.
Garde manger is the complete opposite. Not all, but most of the students in this class could care less that there is a food allergy in the class. And while I've never asked them to change their recipes in this class, I have asked them to put a portion of what they're cooking aside before condiments are added to it. For example, this week we had pulled pork sandwiches on the menu that would be mixed with a from-scratch barbecue sauce one of the students made the week before. The main ingredient in the sauce was soy sauce, so I asked the team putting together the sandwiches to put aside a portion of the pulled pork before the barbecue sauce was added. Not one person cared to remember the special request.
My cooking partner was livid, literally ranting. I wasn't angry, but was disappointed. My disappointment wasn't so much about not eating that day, but rather in the fact that none of those students quite understood the severity of what they had done. I placed a special order with them, and if they had ignored that special order in a restaurant and served the known allergen to a customer, there would have been a big problem.
I'm concerned that if they won't handle a food allergy with care and caution in culinary school they won't take it seriously in the real world. I hope I'm wrong.
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