Celebrate Awareness

Celebrate Awareness

It’s a real treat when you can go to a conference at Walt Disney World.  Celebrate Awareness the first Food Allergy and Celiac convention was hosted at the Coronado Springs Resort at Walt Disney World on the Saturday before Thanksgiving.  Fortuitous for us, our holiday plans were taking us to the Orlando area.  So Meyer and I took advantage of this opportunity to also check out FACCWDW.

What impressed me the most were the lectures.  Not only did the conference have Chef Gary Jones, the Culinary Dietary Specialist for Walt Disney World, but also other chefs from Disney doing culinary demonstrations.
Celebrate Awareness: Keynote Chef Gary

Chef Gary Jones, the Culinary Dietary Specialist for Walt Disney World, gave a fascinating talk about how and what Walt Disney World does in reference to those guests with food allergies and intolerances.  WDW recognizes over 170 food allergies-can you believe that!?! Chef Gary impressed the importance of using the online dining reservation form and noting food allergies so that restaurants have advanced notice to prepare for your needs.

Chef Gary discussed that the goal for Walt Disney World internationally was to be the industry leader for providing delicious food and beverage options for all guests, including those with food allergies and intolerances. He mentioned that they do not keep separate kitchens for food allergies but are very conscientious and careful about cross contamination.  If Walt Disney World can keep people safe then why can’t any kitchen? It seems to be all about training and awareness.

Celebrate Awareness treats

The expo side of Celebrate Awareness was lots of fun too! Enjoy Life was there with lots of yummy treats. I do love their chocolate chips! NoGii showed off their new paleo bars and whey & quinoa protein powder. I love that they are delving into paleo foods.  Canyon Oats had individual instant oatmeal cups and granola cups.  Their products are managed in house from seed to packing to  guarantee their gluten free status.  OMG It’s Gluten Free had cookies and brownies to try. These treats are sold all over Walt Disney World and I can say they are impressively delicious!  A new to me vendor was Pascha Chocolate. They sell soy, wheat, gluten, dairy, nut, and egg free chocolate.  Their 100% cacao no sugar added chocolate was intense but delicious!

Yo Dish is a new app that had a booth at the expo as well.  They strive to help those with food allergies, vegetarians, and vegans find restaurants.  It’s crowd sourcing at it’s best. Users upload photos and ratings about restaurants they visit. The app is also great for users with more than one food allergy as they can search for restaurants after selecting their multiple food allergies. I’m really excited to start to use this app when we dine out across the country.

Celebrate Awareness Chef HenryI also enjoyed the demonstration by Chef Henry Smart Rodriguez, catering sous chef at the Coronado Springs Resort. He focused on the many uses of plantains.  I love plantains but had never thought to use them as a dough.  Chef Henry showed us that green plantains can be boiled then pureed and the used as a dough to make empanadas and gnocchi. What a great idea! I’ve since found paleo recipes that make crackers out of plantains but plantain empanadas sound delicious.  Anything stuffed with a yummy filling and deep friend (or baked) sounds like a treat to me!

I am so glad that I was able to attend the Celebrate Awareness convention this year.  The organizers did a great job coordinating outstanding lectures from Chef Gary Jones, other chefs at Disney, nutritional gurus, food advocates, and representatives of gluten free food companies.  They also worked hard at finding local and country wide vendors for their expo which expanded my knowledge of available gluten free foods. I look forward to the next convention!

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