What do you see as the most important trend in the industry?
I would say Allergens. Though the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act was voted in 2004 and an enacted in the same year, now a days this topic has broaden and has become more global then we have seen in the past. Consumers have been more conscious about their health and food intake. At social gatherings it has become imperative and crucial for food to be labeled with the up most details to identify ingredients and therefore preserving the integrity of the food. Did you know that more than 12 million Americans have food allergies; which represents 1 in 25, or 4% of the population?
There are eight major food allergens that are found in flavoring, coloring or other additives. These allergens: Milk, Eggs, Fish, Tree Nuts, Peanuts, Wheat, Soy Beans and Crustacean Shellfish, if not properly identified through labeling could be detrimental to the consumers health and in some cases cause death.
I encourage food service operations to become more accommodating improve safety and minimize risk by implementing and executing food allergy protocols across the industry.
How has your involvement with the association enhanced your experience within it?
I have been a member of SHFM for more than six years and have always been involved. From the planning committee to the membership committee as well as my involvement in the local chapter I have contributed a great deal in the growth of the association. This experience has allowed me to enhance my knowledge of the industry through networking. I have had the privilege to meet with some of the most prestigious pioneers in the industry and learned from them and their best practices. I can confidently say that I have grown considerably and thanks to the association.
What is a unique experience you have had with SHFM?
My most memorable and unique experience within the association was at the 2013 National Conference, when my fearless boss Sabrina Capannola, took over the Presidency of the association. When she took over the gavel and delivered her speech, I felt overwhelmed with such emotion and pride that I could not hold back my tears. I continue to be very proud and inspired by the work she has done and her contribution to all the members.
How did you get your start in the industry?
Growing up I traveled the world with my parents. Every hotel we stayed in I was always fascinated by the atmosphere and the friendliness of the hospitality staff. I used to imagine myself playing the role of the restaurant manager, tending to everyone’s needs and playing hostess. When I was of age my first job was at the prestigious hotel called the Shangri-La in Malaysia…...I knew this was my niche and I never looked back.
What and where was the best meal you ever had?
Have you ever tried “Xiaolongbao”? I have and I can tell you it is the best! The first time I had them, it took me a while to get over the art and technique of eating them. From there they have become my favorite delicacy. They are the best type of dumplings out there. My first encounter with it was in Flushing, N.Y. and I will always remember.
*This article originally appeared in the October 2014 issue of Food & Hospitality at Work