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Chances are, some of your customers are carefully watching what they eat, and not just for diet reasons. Millions of people have food hypersensitivities, which means they can have uncomfortable or even fatal reactions to specific foods. Students learning the culinary arts in Boulder will explore the many types of food hypersensitivities and how to handle them in their classes. Here, we’ll discuss how to keep your kitchen safe.

Food allergy vs. intolerance

Food hypersensitivities can be categorized into allergies and intolerances. Though they may seem similar, food allergies and intolerances are very different, both in terms of what causes the reaction and the type and severity of the reaction itself.

Allergies cause an immune reaction, in which the body recognizes the foreign substance (such as the proteins found in peanuts or shellfish) as a threat, according to Medical News Today. As a response, the body releases chemicals such as histamine, which can lead to a wide range of reactions like throat tightness, hives, swelling, coughing or vomiting, KidsHealth explained.

Dairy is a common food intolerance, but it shouldn’t be confused with an allergy to cow’s milk.

Allergic reactions can be mild in some cases, but very severe and even life-threatening in others. Even if a person’s previous reaction to an allergen was mild, there’s always a chance that the next one will be much more consequential. Additionally, people who have food allergies will likely experience a reaction after any contact with the food, even a tiny amount.

Intolerances primarily lead to digestive issues and are usually caused by the lack of a specific enzyme that’s needed to break down a particular protein. For example, lactose intolerance is caused by a lack of lactase, which allows the body to digest milk protein.

The effects of certain intolerances can be reduced with treatment; in the case of lactose intolerance, taking lactase pills or drinking lactose-free milk can allow someone to enjoy dairy without experiencing discomfort. Other intolerances, such as Celiac disease (an intolerance to the protein gluten, commonly found in wheat and similar grains) don’t have enzyme pills available to ease symptoms.

Common food allergies and intolerances

Knowing the most common food allergies and intolerances can help chefs develop menu items that can be enjoyed by most guests. According to HealthLine, the eight most common allergies are:

  1. Cow’s milk; this is different than lactose intolerance and usually doesn’t affect older children or adults.
  2. Eggs.
  3. Tree nuts, including Brazil nuts, almonds, cashews, Macadamia nuts, pistachios, pine nuts and walnuts.
  4. Peanuts.
  5. Shellfish, including shrimp, lobster, scallops, squid, crayfish and prawns.
  6. Wheat.
  7. Soy.
  8. Fish.

Meanwhile, the eight most common intolerances are:

  1. Dairy.
  2. Gluten; this is different than a wheat allergy.
  3. Caffeine.
  4. Salicylates, which are naturally found in some vegetables, fruits and honey.
  5. Amines;vthese are often found in fermented foods and include histamine.
  6. FODMAPs, which stands for fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides and polyols, referring to short-chain carbohydrates.
  7. Sulfites, which are commonly used as preservatives.
  8. Fructose.
Keeping your kitchen safe from cross-contamination

Developing a few menu options that are free of the above 16 common causes of food hypersensitivities is one way to make your restaurant or food business safe and enjoyable for all your customers.

Beyond that, keeping your kitchen clean and free of cross-contamination risks is essential. Remember, even a small amount of a protein that causes a negative reaction can have large consequences for someone with a sensitivity.

Follow these tips to keep your kitchen safer for all customers:

Use dedicated equipment for allergen-free ingredients

Boiling gluten-free pasta in water previously used to boil noodles that contain gluten can cause a negative reaction for someone with Celiac disease. Using dedicated equipment, such as a specific gluten-free pot for making pasta, reduces the chances of cross-contamination.

Wash surfaces and tools after exposing them to allergens

After you use a knife to chop up almonds, using it to cut onions could expose a customer to tree nut proteins. Wash cutting boards, knives and any other surface that touched an allergen after finishing that task.

Carefully store your ingredients

Accidentally dropping a few peanuts into your chocolate chips, or mixing up types of flours, can contaminate your ingredients. Keep allergens tightly sealed, carefully labeled and away from other ingredients.

The post The vital difference between food allergies and intolerances appeared first on Escoffier Online International Culinary Academy.

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Presentation is important, especially for baked goods. As every pastry student will learn, flavor and texture are only two important components to becoming a successful baker. Making your products look tasty and intriguing is the first step in capturing customers’ attention.

Creating a beautiful pastry may involve creative use of berries and sprinkles, carefully shaped, placed or dripped icing, or other decorative additions to the item itself. However, for consumers shopping for a sweet treat in a grocery store or on an online shop, bakers need to push their creativity beyond their baked goods and into package design. After all, when cupcakes or cookies are packed into a container, it’s not the frosting that customers will see first; it’s the box.

Using bright, bold colors in package design can capture shoppers’ attention in fun ways.
Bold hues

When you want to catch someone’s eye, what better way than to use your favorite bright, bold colors? Shades like blazing yellows, neon greens and hot magentas will stand out against a backdrop of boring, neutral tints. Choose one to coat the whole package in, or color block several to make an interesting pattern.

Some companies, like Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, assign particular colors to specific products, choosing to forego brand colors on every package in favor of creating striking patterns that customers are sure to remember, Interact reported. This plays on the psychology of color; if a consumer is drawn to your bright turquoise and electric purple labels one day, they may gravitate toward that same style the next time they’re at the supermarket, 99designs noted.

Clean labels

Though you want an eye-catching design, it’s also important to keep the label clean. Don’t weigh it down with too much information. The clean label trend reflects what customers are really looking for when they’re shopping for treats. While much of the food industry is becoming increasingly health-conscious, people purchasing pastries probably aren’t seeking something very nutritious, Baking Business pointed out.

“Bottom line, people are less focused on ingredients and health when they’re eating sweet goods,” Abby Ceule, director of market management for bread at Corbion Caravan, explained to Baking Business. “When we are looking at sweet goods, we shop with our eyes. People are less likely to turn that package around and see what’s in it.”

While you’ll still need to list ingredients on your package, don’t worry about incorporating listed ingredients into your design unless it makes sense. Beyond the ingredients, customers don’t want to be loaded down with details. Keeping just the basics on the label and brightening it up with some simple decals can attract the eye without overloading the mind.

Sneak peeks

Your customers may be drawn in by your brilliant package design, but what they’re really buying is the delicious pastry inside. Incorporating a sneak peek at the treat can give you creative combinations of design and product. The window in your package can be shaped like the product itself, like the brand logo or incorporated into an image.

One example that 99designs highlighted was a silver medalist in the international package design competition, Pentawards. The package contained seafood products, like marinated octopus, shrimp or anchovies. The designs were simple, with a graphic representation of the various seafood types. Half of the design was in a muted color and the other half was simply a window in the shape of the animal, displaying the food within. This not only captures a shopper’s eye, but also gives them a close look at what they’re actually purchasing, a valuable advantage to a new customer.

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Opening up a storefront is an exhilarating time for any professional who is passionate about the baking and pastry arts. However, there are a lot of challenges involved in keeping a bakery bustling with happy dessert-lovers. If you’re pursuing a career in creating delicious treats, you’ll benefit from learning some best practices for getting customers lined up at the door and keeping them coming back for years to come.

Set prices strategically

“Pricing is a crucial factor in making any business successful.”

Pricing is a crucial factor in making any business successful, but especially in baking. Affordable prices – and even giving out occasional free samples – encourage people to stop in and try a cupcake or cookie, but going too low might hurt your establishment’s long-term prospects. New York Magazine noted that thoughtfully setting markup could make all the difference in keeping your business financially healthy.

While the money you spent on ingredients is an essential consideration for establishing price points, keep in mind that there are a number of other expenses that go into making an item. There’s the time you spent on preparation and cleaning, the price of packaging and promotion, and the fact that you have to pay rent and keep the utilities on. Do the math to find the pricing structure that will make your bakery profitable, and stay alert for opportunities to operate more efficiently.

The front window is your best advertisement

One of your most effective tools for promoting your bakery is right in front of you. Think of the front window as a powerful space for advertisement. Your establishment will attract people to stop in for a quick break from the day by presenting a welcoming atmosphere and conveying the personality of your business.

Whether your bakery specializes in traditional goods or puts a modern spin on sweet favorites, show off what you do best. An assortment of hearty loaves of bread or beautiful cake decorations in the window is a powerful way of catching the attention of passersby. Select signage and colors that tell people what they can expect when they venture through the door.

Consider how your bakery’s appearance will affect foot traffic.
Build an online presence

While the appearance of your physical location can lure in patrons, don’t underestimate the impact of a savvy online strategy. Guests are likely to look up your bakery before stopping by, so you should stay heavily engaged. Claim your establishment on Google My Business [Google My Business?] and keep tabs on reviews so you can respond or make adjustments as needed.

Social media offers endless opportunities to give customers a peek into what your bakery has to offer. Regularly posting photos of awesome-looking desserts is a great means of encouraging people to come by. Add videos to give patrons a sense of your personality and the methods you’re using to produce some of your signature items.

Account for dietary restrictions

A good way to help your bakery stand out and appeal to more people is by making desserts that address potential customers’ special requirements. Some of the individuals who would love to visit your business may have food allergies, avoid gluten consumption or maintain a vegan diet. You might be able to expand on your customer base by catering to these situations.

Building a reputation for being considerate to patrons and creative with your use of ingredients could be the ticket to your bakery’s long-term business growth. Along with careful attention to financial realities and a thought-out promotional strategy, meeting the demands of restricted diets could help to make your establishment a top destination for locals and visitors who love baked goods fresh out of the oven.

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Food trucks, in one form or another have been around for a long time. From the mid-19th century chuckwagons that fed cowboys driving cattle across large swaths of land to early motorized trucks serving workers and students and the recent boom in more artisanal offerings, the mix of novelty and convenience clearly appeals to many eaters.

Whether baking and pastry arts professionals want to open their own food trucks or work in a brick-and-mortar location, they can learn a lot from the techniques established food truck proprietors use to create a variety of delicious desserts. Let’s look at a few tips and techniques from some of the most notable pastry and baking-oriented food trucks currently on the road.

Food trucks offer a wide range of desserts for their customers.
The powerful appeal of cupcakes and other handheld desserts

Cupcakes mix the best parts of a full-sized cake with a number of other advantages like pre-portioned individual servings and a final form that’s easily stored, transported and handed off to a customer. Food truck owners focusing on these delicious baked goods know they have a good thing going. The Daily Meal’s survey of the best dessert food trucks in the U.S. found cupcakes are the most common type of sweet treat served from these mobile deliverers of delight.

Although the overall cupcake trend has a lot to do with so the number of cupcake trucks crisscrossing the country’s roads, the ease of handling and serving cupcakes – and similarly handheld desserts – is an important factor to consider. Take a cue from cupcake trucks – you can easily adapt your favorite cake recipes to this format and make transporting these treats a much simpler affair, whether you plan to feed 5 or 500 people. You can also start looking for ways to make other baked goods in smaller, easily carried formats.

Classics and innovative ideas

NJ.com’s review of New Jersey’s best dessert food trucks includes a range of trucks and cuisines from across the Garden State, offering a dizzying variety of desserts. Despite all the different types of food, presentation styles and business models, however, there seem to be two categories all of the trucks fall into: classic and innovative. Some trucks, like Cannoli World, offer a few new takes on a well-known indulgence but mostly focus on producing a high-quality version of it. Others, like Dags Dippers, have a similar dedication to quality but focus on a novel approach, in this case placing fruits and vegetables on skewers and coating them in a variety of sauces and dips.

What does this distinction mean for you? It’s an important reminder to have a clear idea of your goal whenever you get the itch to start baking. If you want to experiment, by all means get going – but have an idea of what you’re looking to get out of the process before you start mixing ingredients and putting pans in the oven. Similarly, when you set out to make a specific, classic dessert, make sure you have the right ingredients, pans and other tools on hand before you start work.

Pick one thing at a time to make exceptionally well

Many food trucks have a strong concept that’s clear in their offerings. Whether it’s packaged ice creams, doughnuts or slices of pie, you’ll find plenty of food trucks that focus on one or just a few desserts. This makes it easier to keep popular items in stock and perfect a process. As a home baker, you can use a similar approach by perfecting your version of your favorite desserts. You don’t need to just stick with one dish forever like a food truck, but you should develop your skills with each before moving on to the next.

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While there are plenty of baked goods for all seasons, spring is strongly associated with a few classics. As you continue on your quest to become a pastry chef, you’ll want to try out new recipes and improve the final results you produce from classic ones. Let’s look at a handful of classic springtime pastries to help you find your next baking project.

There are a wide variety of springtime pastries to consider adding to your repertoire this season.
Cream, fresh berries and almonds shine in this sweet cornmeal cake

While harvest season for many types of produce is still far away, spring has a strong connection to rebirth, growth and the promise of bountiful yields of fruits, vegetables and grains. This cornmeal-almond cake with strawberries and a mascarpone-cream blend for a topping from Food & Wine offers fresh tastes and a variety of flavors that can easily remind everyone who eats it of the season.

For best results, you should prepare the cake and let it cool before you start making the topping, which is a relatively simple and quick process of mixing cream, mascarpone and confectioner’s sugar. If you’re planning a party and have a lot to do, You can make the cake and store overnight with no ill effects.

The colors of spring paired with eclairs

Eclairs are a year-round treat, but this version of the dish shared by The Food Network includes a few changes that make it especially appropriate for spring. The most immediately visible difference is the use of a variety of fruit juice-flavored glazes instead of the traditional chocolate fondant. The mixture of juice and confectioner’s sugar doesn’t just provide a fruit-flavored topping, it also offers a variety of pastel colors with close ties to the spring season.

Although the prep time is significant – about three and a half hours – this recipe yields about 25 eclairs, and you can easily make several batches at the same time to increase the final results. Food Network recommended spooning your flour into your measuring cup instead of scooping directly from the bag or container to avoid compaction and, as a result, overly dry final products.

Small-but-tall strawberry pies are fresh and delicious

Fresh fruit is just one of the features in this flavor-packed miniature dessert from Southern Living – and they’re so good, you may find yourself having more than one. A creamy lemon filling and vanilla cream are also major parts of the equation, and they come together with the strawberries to offer a variety of flavors in every forkful.

You’ll need to plan ahead to make the best mini-pies possible, as total time needed for the recipe is more than six hours. However, you’ll only be active for about 90 minutes and will simply need to keep a watchful eye over the pies during the rest. If you want one big pie, this recipe helpfully offers instructions for that preparation as its last step.

Many more springtime inspirations

There are so many desserts that can fit into a springtime theme, it’s impossible to pack them all into just one article. If you’re looking for more inspiration or want to further spread your wings with some additional recipes, we have you covered. These spring desserts – including chiffon cake, fruit tarts, carrot cake, meringue cake and another approach for eclairs – can help you find the perfect recipe for each and every occasion you encounter this spring.

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For people who love cooking, the Netflix documentary series “Chef’s Table” has been full of inspiration and helpful guidance. Each episode focuses on a different acclaimed expert in the culinary arts, exploring the creative methods and unstoppable work ethics that drive the creation of some of the world’s best food. The fourth season in particular is attracting interest from students of the baking and pastry arts by spotlighting four of the greatest pastry chefs working today.

There’s a lot to be learned from these makers of amazing desserts, both about how to cook and perseverance in the face of adversity. Here are some key takeaways for anyone who is devoted to preparing fantastic sweets:

Exceptional pastry about precision and dedication

“Pastry chefs concentrate on getting the details right.”

While some of the cooking professionals featured on past editions of “Chef’s Table” have exhibited more improvisational flair, the fourth season’s stars concentrate on getting the details right. Measuring every ingredient carefully, closely monitoring baking times and experimenting with recipes until they are perfect are all recurring themes.

That dedication to the craft is especially important if they are making dishes that are both innovative and visually elegant like Spanish chef Jordi Roca. He built his reputation by engaging all the senses with his painstakingly constructed items that have been compared to magic tricks.

The stars of the show arrive in their kitchens early in the morning and work throughout the day to ensure their creations come out just right. Christina Tosi of Milk Bar notes that the marks of a chef who is truly committed to this vocation are showing up earlier than everyone else, contributing to the family meal shared by the staff and staying as late as necessary.

Embrace classic flavors while expressing yourself

Each of these pastry chefs has a thorough understanding of how to make a variety of traditional items, but they also find opportunities to put their own stamp on each creation. Italian chef Corrado Assenza’s pastry shop, Caffe Sicilia, carries on generations of family tradition by turning out old-school gelato, granita and cannoli with only the finest ingredients from local farms, but he has also discovered ample room for experimentation. By recalling memories of swimming in the ocean as a child, Assenza found the idea to draw on the tastes of oysters, making a uniquely satisfying new gelato.

Tosi is known for using her culinary training to put creative spins on family-style desserts, like her trademark Crack Pie featuring a sweet and salty butter filling in a toasted oat crust. She sums up her philosophy by explaining her dislike for cakes that are all-too-often overly dry on the inside, with too much care poured into the frosting instead. She prefers to skip the frosting and make sure the cake itself captures all the right tastes.

Careful attention to detail is essential to great pastry.
When dessert is good enough, it can stand alone

A delicious treat is the perfect way to complete an indulgent meal, but the chefs in the show demonstrate how a highly successful establishment can built on a commitment to remarkable desserts alone. Tosi’s Milk Bar, which began as a part of David Chang’s Momofuku restaurant group, became its own chain with nine New York City locations and outposts with Washington, D.C., Las Vegas and Toronto. Each restaurant draws crowds by eliciting nostalgia while transforming the flavors of cereal and bagels into something new.

At Room 4 Dessert in Indonesia, American transplant Will Goldfarb offers a nine-course tasting menu of his avant-garde inventions. Guests enjoy an array of desserts with unusual ingredients and cheeky names like Roger Federer or Scarborough Pear. By highlighting this unrestrained creativity, “Chef’s Table” shows aspiring culinary professionals the boundless potential to be found in dessert.

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