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August 29, 2006

Chef serves up special menu for allergy sufferers

Chef serves up special menu for allergy sufferers
by HEATHER GREENWOOD DAVIS

Chicago—When Dominique Tougne slides into the seat across from me at Bistro 110, he is wearing his trademark chef's jacket and a grin from ear to ear.

Before I even open my notebook, the executive chef of the saucy neighbourhood restaurant located just off the famous Magnificent Mile reaches into his pocket and pulls out his latest gift from a happy patron: a pair of Popsicle sticks bound together with lilac string.

It's from a child who enjoyed his meal and while Tougne is clearly pleased with the gift, it's not his favourite.

The gift he loves most comes from families who trust him with the lives of their children and lately it has happened quite often.

Just about a week ago, a 7-year-old girl with a peanut allergy ate dinner in his restaurant.

"It was the first time in her life that they went to eat outside (their home)," he stresses, leaning across the table. "The first time. In seven years!"

The fact that they chose Bistro 110 no longer surprises Tougne, who works tirelessly to ensure that the restaurant caters to people who suffer from food allergies of all kinds.

It's an area of the population that has been largely ignored by the restaurant community despite statistics that show 1.5 per cent of adults and up to 6 per cent of children under the age of 3 in America — about four million people — have food allergies of some sort.

In Canada, an estimated 5 per cent of children are afflicted.

The parents of these children often struggle with feeding them at home, never mind at a restaurant, explains Tougne.

He should know.

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Posted by David at August 29, 2006 10:21 AM