A north Belfast chef has given a group of families their first ever chance to dine out together.
Gary Kiely, sous chef at Corr’s Corner Hotel served a special meal to more than 100 diners with life-threatening allergies.
The occasion was the inaugural Allergy NI Annual Dinner, where people suffering serious allergies were able to dine out on delicious organic food free from peanuts, tree nuts, egg, dairy, wheat and gluten. Gary was coached beforehand by the charity’s advisor and environmental health expert, Dr Ian Leitch.
“Most people take eating out for granted but when people with allergies eat out they are taking their lives in their hands so it is so unusual for families with an allergy sufferer to eat out together,” said organiser |Maureen Paul.
Gary admitted he felt a heavy responsibility in ensuring conditions were as free from harmful allergens as possible. For those suffering severe allergies a single wrong ingredient can prove potentially fatal.
“I talked to a woman who hadn’t been out to eat for 28 years. She couldn’t afford to take the chance. Cooking for people with allergies does make you more vigilant,” said Gary.
“We are dealing with people’s lives so I have to make sure that everything is as safe as possible. All nuts are off the menu for the day; in fact we didn’t even have nuts in the building during the dinner.”
Ms Paul praised the hotel staff’s “thoroughness and dedication”.