Eating out with allergies

November 5, 2009 A local woman with several food allergies has found a solution and she is helping others enjoy fine dinning.

For some, a simple meal can turn into a nightmare. Lisa Williams learned the hard way, which is why she started Safe and Sound Dinners. She organized dinning out events for people with food allergies.

Carnivale restaurant is a hip place with great food and atmosphere. They also modified their menu for people with serious allergies.

"The cuisine in particular at Carnivale was easily adapted to allergen-free, and a lot of his dishes are made just omitting a cheese garnish, really just the same for anyone else that would come in," said Williams.

Two years ago, Lisa weighted 250 pounds.

"I was depressed, I had chronic stomach pains and digestive issues, and I just started getting sick. I had pneumonia, I had Epstein-Barr and I wasn't getting better, so I went to the doctor and they started doing tests on me, and I found out that I had food allergies," Williams said.

Not only did Lisa lose the weight, she started teaching allergen-free cooking classes and has created recipes.

It's not just the food that's an issue, it is also how it's being prepared.

"The kinds of things that they'll do in the kitchen is that they won't want to use the same cutting board. If they are using cutting board that has some allergen on it, they need to make sure they use brand new equipment," said Williams.

Everyone in Nancy Perlman's family has some kind of serious food allergies. Going out to eat as a family is stressful.

"I would say that the majority of the restaurants don't have gluten-free menus or are not well versed in safe preparation," said Perlman.

Carnivale Executive Chef Mark Mendez says they try hard to accommodate all customers.

"Usually, it's not too hard of an issue. Whatever is made ahead of time, we try to accommodate in whatever way we can," said Mendez.

For people with serious food allergies, the most important thing to do when going to a restaurant is communication.

"When you get to the restaurant, tell everyone that will listen, try to speak to the chef, talk to the manager, and let your server know," said Williams.

To learn more about Lisa Williams' Safe and Sound Dinner, and other allergen-free cooking classes, go to

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