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 for the ones I use at home in English. I even have a course to teach you here: Chef Card Mini-Course

Now what?

Go create, laminate and practice, 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.


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  6. Miss Allergic Reactor

    Hi Danielle! That’s so exciting. Chef cards are great. She will have such a fabulous time! I was just in Florence. Trying to finish my blog post. Italy is really awesome with food allergies though. Food is culturally so significant to them that they really will do their best to accommodate usually. I don’t have the sesame allergy, but I have the nuts and a bunch of others and did great with pizza!

  7. Hello. My daughter has a peanut tree nut and sesame allergy and we had cards printed from Select Wisely since she is studying in Florence for the semester -leaving in January. Is there anything else you think she should bring with her to help communicate. Did you find pizza relatively safe to eat – thank you!!

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  10. Hello. If possible I would also like to use your template. We have a son with a peanut and tree nut anaphylaxis and would love to see how you made yours. Thank you for posting this!

  11. Miss Allergic Reactor

    Pamela, I’ll e-mail you.

  12. Pamela Sharpe-Dovbniak

    Would you share your template with us please?

  13. 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!

  14. 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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