Have you ever met someone and thought yourself, “Yes. Just Yes”?
Because I just did.
The Allergy Chef.
You might have heard of or seen her. She has nearly 21,000 Instagram followers and is currently touring the country with The Food Allergy Awareness Exhibition.
And. She. Is. Amazing.
200 allergies and intolerances, and counting, the woman is unstoppable. Her allergies include the usual food and environmental suspects, and an additional few hundred including sesame, corn, rice, bell pepper, detergent, and gasoline. Some are contact-sensitive, others ingestion-based, and some are airborne.
So how does she stay safe? Well for starters, she wears a ventilation mask. Like this one:
She goes by The Allergy Chef because that is who she is. Growing up she wanted to be a child advocacy lawyer, a doctor, and a scientist. And now – by cooking and advocating for people with food allergies – she has become all of those things… well… without the degrees.
“20 years ago there weren’t as many options as there are now,” she said. “You have amazing companies and stores catering to allergic people. And there are people trying so hard to help this emerging community because let’s face it – diagnosis are on the rise. That means there’s a whole future of kids who will need access to resources. I am helping to bring them and their parents that access.”
Well, her bakery is one way. She bakes amazing cookies and cupcakes free from the most common allergens, and much more.
The second way she is doing this is with the Food Allergy Awareness Exhibition.
The Food Allergy Awareness Exhibition
“It’s all about getting boots on the ground,” said The Allergy Chef. “It’s about helping the people who need it the most. When you’re diagnosed you’re thrown into the deep end. Few doctors will take the time to sit down with you and tell you what to do, how to do it, and where to get safe foods. It’s about getting directly in front of people.”
So how does she help? Well, she’s traveling to cities all around the U.S., going into stores and finding allergy-safe foods. She’s cooking and baking while on the road too… in order to deliver fresh-baked, allergy friendly foods to everyone. Regardless of location (U.S.- based, I mean).
The Food Allergy Awareness Exhibition really originated from wanting to do nationwide cupcake deliveries. The Allergy Chef was fed up with free-from food looking like ugly, inedible bird food.
“We’re making beautiful food that’s also delicious,” she said.
So she is doing exactly that.
“One mom came up to me,” she said. “She had tears in her eyes and thanked me. Which is obviously not why I’m doing this – for the thanks. But she admitted that her child had never had food prepared by anyone but herself. She said that it was the best day of her life. And it’s kids like that – that keep me going. Giving kids that first experience, and many experiences after, means the world to me.”
After hearing everything she’s doing for others, I wondered what it was like hitting the road. I mean, with 200 allergies and intolerances it must be pretty difficult to travel.
“I don’t travel,” she said. Which to me was shocking. How are you going on a cross-country road trip all of a sudden without having traveled at all before? My mind was blown, and my heart was throbbing with newfound inspiration.
“My safe zone was my old 2002 van,” said The Allergy Chef. “But then it broke down on the way to Lake Tahoe. We ended up getting a truck. It’s kind of running on fumes and with my gasoline allergy, I have to wear my mask on and off even in the car. So for this trip I don’t really have a safe zone anymore. It’s hit or miss.”
And while that sounds incredibly tough, I had to know if she was going to continue on (which yes – she is) and what part of the trip excites her the most.
“Well besides all of the amazing kids we’re meeting along the way, I’ve gotta say New York City. I’m so excited for New York. I’ve obviously never been. I can’t wait to go. I can’t wait to see Times Square, even though everyone tells me it’s one giant billboard. I’m still so excited to go.”
And one giant billboard it is. But an amazing one that deserves to be seen. By everyone. Even those with more than 200 allergies, like The Allergy Chef.
So if you’re looking for a bit of travel inspiration because you’re feeling down, know that anything is possible. Allergies or not. The world is your oyster and whether you are allergic to oysters or not, it’s yours to crack.
For more information on The Food Allergy Awareness Exhibition, and to track The Allergy Chef on her journey, visit AllergyExhibition.com.