For Food Network Addicts, New Book Hits The Spot

The only prevention: Avoid the trigger food. And that’s easier said than done. In one of the latest efforts to manage food allergies, UCLA researchers created a portable device still in prototype stage that attaches to your smartphoneand analyzes food right on the spot for allergens. Until that’s in the real world, here are some tips on avoiding allergens when you or loved ones are away from home: Dining out: Talk to everyone and ask a lot of questions. Your server, the chef and even the restaurant manager should know about your food allergy. You should know exactly what’s in your dish and how it was prepared. Explain cross-contact danger: Some studies say more than 20% of restaurant staffers think picking an allergen (nuts, for example) off a dish renders it safe. Your best bets: Order simple options (baked potato or steamed vegetables) and skip dessert (often a source of hidden allergens). Avoid buffets and fried foods, where cross-contact is high. On a plane: Forget airline food (pack your own) and sanitize your seat and tray table. Passengers with nut allergies who took these precautions had significantly lower odds of a reaction, reports a new study in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice.Also, don’t use airline pillows or blankets and consider telling those seated nearby about your food allergy. At camp: The number of kids who suffer from food allergies has increased dramatically in recent years, a new government report shows. Whether your little one is at day camp or away for the summer, give counselors and key personnel a written plan describing medications and instructions in case of a reaction.

Food franchisees face low pay, long hours

And it serves as an alternative to other wasteful, meat-heavy fast food offenders and maybe even as a catalyst for further change. Im glad it exists and wish the chain success. I tend to agree with the writer. The waste in many eco fast food restaurants still gets to me, which means I rarely patronize companies like the Green Truck a food truck service in which disposable ware is the only option. Still, Im glad restaurants like these exist. After all, McDonalds patrons arent going to turn into diehard Slow Food members overnight. And if were going to single out a fast food chain for critique at this time, I still think that should be the McDonalds and KFCs in the world, not Otarian. Today, a Big Mac costs less than a salad , despite the obvious fact that a burger has a much bigger carbon footprint than a salad or the portobello mushroom sandwich at Otarian, for that matter. But if the Newsweek piece has convinced you to skip green fast food and find easier ways to create home-cooked meals, try joining a co-op. Laurie Woolever of The New York Times recently joined one, and raves about her experience so far: It works like this: Once a week, you cook a dish (chicken enchiladas, for instance), making enough to provide at least one serving for each adult member of the co-op. (Children can be assigned half or full portions, depending on ages and appetites.) Around the same time, your fellow co-op members are cooking large batches of their chosen dishes. After setting aside a pan of enchiladas for your household, you divide and package the rest, usually in reusable containers, and label them with reheating or assembly instructions. Members then gather and swap dishes, each walking away with a variety of meals for the coming weeks dinners and, often, leftovers for extra meals and lunches. Your big batch of enchiladas has bought you three smaller batches of, say, Greek watermelon-barley salad, lentil soup and Vietnamese pork salad. The co-op can save members money by giving them a home-cooked alternative to on-the-go fast food purchases, green or not.

Can fast food be green?

EDT Food franchisees face low pay, long hours Want to see how this story relates to your watchlist? Just add items to create a watchlist now: Add By Andrea Coombes Buying into a franchise may seem like a quicker and easier way to own your own business, but the results from a new survey might get you thinking twice about investing in a restaurant franchise. Operators of food franchisees are less satisfied with their experience, on average, than people who run other types of franchises, plus food franchisees work relatively long hours and often dont make all that much money, according to the survey, published in September, of more than 4,300 franchisees running about 100 different food-franchise brands, conducted by Franchise Business Review, a market-research company in Portsmouth, N.H. Shutterstock.com Enlarge Image Thinking about investing in a fast-food franchise? Dont bite off more than you can chew. Despite their complaints, a majority of food franchisees69%said theyd do it all over again, though thats a lower percentage than the 72% of all franchisees (not just food operators) who said they dont regret their decision. We survey tons of franchisees: Theyll bash their franchiser on training and leadership, but when you ask them, Would you do it again? the majority of them say, Sure, said Eric Stites, chief executive of Franchise Business Review. Its that love-hate thing. Food franchisees earned an average of $82,000 in 2012, according to the survey, but that average masks wide disparities: 50% of the food operators surveyed said they earned less than $50,000, while 25% earned more than $100,000. Restaurant operators also tend to work long hours: 68% of franchisees surveyed work 40 or more hours per week, 59% work evenings at least a couple of times a week, and 47% almost always work weekends (that compares to 35% of franchisees in all industries). One franchisee quoted in the report said restaurant owners should expect to work 10- to 14-hour days. Read the report. Not an easy path to success Investing in a food franchise can also take substantially more start-up capital than other types of franchises, thanks to real-estate, equipment and supply costs, plus other expenses. Still, the initial investment can vary from as low as $34,500 to as high as $4 million, depending on the type of restaurant, the report said. While starting any type of franchise may be easier than launching an independent small business, franchising is not really an easy path to success, Stites said. Key mistakes to avoid The surveys finding that satisfaction is lower among food franchisees than other types of franchisees is not unusual, Stites said.

Today, the Food Network reaches 100 million homes. Its chefs are stars, and its shows are well-known brands: “Iron Chef America,” ”Chopped,” ”Restaurant: Impossible,” ”30 Minute Meals.” In “From Scratch: Inside the Food Network,” Allen Salkin guides readers through the history of the network, from its start in the 1990s to today. Along the way, Salkin serves up plenty of stories that will surprise and entertain. For example, one of the network’s first employees sent a cake with her resume and was hired, even though the cake was made from a mix. The network’s 1996 election night coverage included a sheet cake depicting the United States, and states were frosted either red for Republicans or blue for Democrats as the returns came in. And an episode of the show “Too Hot Tamales” aired with an unplanned clip of pornography spliced in, leading to visits from the FBI. Other treats: “Iron Chef America” contestants were given three possibilities for the show’s secret ingredient 24 hours before the episode was shot, a fact that wasn’t revealed to viewers, and Emeril Lagasse was self-conscious about his bald spot, so a makeup artist used a black cosmetic powder to cover it up. To get these morsels, Salkin talks to an impressive array of people, including many of the stars. In addition to Lagasse, he tells readers he interviewed Rachael Ray, Anthony Bourdain, Paula Deen, Guy Fieri, Mario Batali and Bobby Flay. Salkin acknowledges that some stars snubbed him. Among those who declined to be interviewed at length: Alton Brown, Ina Garten, Robert Irvine and Giada De Laurentiis. Salkin manages to dish about them anyway. There is one weakness in the book that Salkin concedes from the outset.