Robert Landolphi is the culinary development manager at the University of Connecticut in Storrs. He is also known as “The Gluten Free Chef.” At UConn, he has the difficult job of serving students with food allergies, gluten intolerance, and other special dietary needs 3 meals a day, 7 days a week… safely. And he does it extremely well! So well, that we at AllergyEats asked Robert to become the first speaker at an AllergyEats Food Allergy Conference for Restaurateurs and Food Service Professionals to focus solely on the college and university market. The conference will be held on 10/21 in New York City, and registrations are still open (through 10/20) at the above conference link.
I interviewed Rob for an article in Food Management Magazine entitled, “8 Tips to Becoming More Allergy Friendly.” The editors at Food Management Magazine were kind enough to allow me to reprint the article in its entirely here, though I would strongly suggest those of you interested in the food service business click on over to their site and sign up as a free member, benefitting from their informative and insightful information across the food \service industry.
Now, please enjoy my interview with Robert Landolphi:
The campus dining hall is one of the consummate college experiences, as students convene to eat and socialize, before heading off to class, sports or other activities. But for food-allergic college students, it can be stressful to eat in the communal dining halls. They worry about ingredient lists, food preparation techniques and the possibility of cross-contamination in the kitchen, buffets and on shared tables.
Thankfully, as the prevalence of food allergies and gluten intolerance increases, food allergy awareness, training and education are also on the rise. Foodservice professionals – including restaurateurs, college dining managers and others in on-site foodservice – are learning how to improve communication, avoid cross-contamination, offer substitutions and provide more allergy friendly and gluten free options. But, unlike restaurateurs, university and college dining hall managers have the unique challenge of serving food-allergic student three meals per day, seven days per week.
Robert Landolphi, AKA the Gluten Free Chef, is culinary development manager at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, and he has built a best-in-class food allergy protocol for the school’s eight residential campus dining halls.
Landolphi believes strongly in accommodating food-allergic and gluten-intolerant students, and says any college can become more knowledgeable, confident and accommodating around food allergies. His tips include:
1. Provide students with information to help them make smart choices. At UConn, the staff is meticulous about sourcing and labeling ingredients, using allergen-free products whenever possible. The kitchen staff knows exactly what ingredients are used in every recipe, and they label the allergens in each dish. If a soy-allergic student is considering a chicken stir-fry option, for instance, they can see at-a-glance if the dish contains soy. If so, they can request a separate, soy-free version of the dish. UConn also offers a “filter system” online – via a website and a free app – so students can look up any dining hall on campus, review the daily menus and filter out the options that contain their allergens.
2. Give students more control. Read the rest of this entry »