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My daughter Theresa has an anaphylactic peanut allergy.
Is it super bad, like the kids who can’t eat in the same cafeteria because of the aroma emanating from someone’s PB and J sandwich? NO. Odors, or even touching a peanut in the shell, do not bother her. But she cannot ingest peanuts or peanut products.

We went to Disney World for our family vacation in May of this year and had a fabulous time. It is a whole different place if you have “grown” children. You can never really grow too old for the “Happiest Place on Earth” (cue princess music). It’s nice to walk (not run) the place, enjoy the shows (without whining), the food (other than chicken nuggets), the beautiful landscaping (yes, they even noticed the topiaries!) and the rides. Rides that for once, the whole family can ride on, without baby swapping, motion sickness, fear, or the inability to rise above the “height” bar.

We like to mix up the dining alternatives, eating breakfast in the “villa,” and then either lunch or dinner at a sit down restaurant. On every occasion, the server would ask us:

  • Are we celebrating anything today? (“YES” Jenn proudly wore her birthday button everywhere.)
  • Are we using any dining plans for this meal? (“NO, except for the Disney Vacation Club discount.”) and
  • Do any of us have any food allergies? (“Don’t know about you, Suzy, but Theresa is allergic to peanuts.”)

On that note, the server would be writing furiously on her notepad, and said that the chef would be right out. Whaaat?

My daughter Theresa, at age 20, would start to squirm.

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Shortly, a chef in his tall white hat would be following the server to our table.  He asked a few pointed questions about her allergy, and then educated us on different menu items that she should not order or sample.   In most cases it was one or two dishes/sides. But in Chefs de France apparently they use peanut oil to fry their chicken, french fries and onion rings.

He pointed these items out and asked her what she did want to order.  She explained what she wanted and he responded as to the safety of the ingredients and cooking processes, and the rest of us ordered our meals while he went back to the kitchen.

My daughter of course was mortified, having been singled out in a restaurant of 150-200 people. She asked,  “Can’t we just keep it to ourselves…why do we have to make a big thing out of this?”

But inside I was cheering for a company that often goes above and beyond in its delivery of happiness.  As I saw the same chef visit a table behind us and discuss something about carrots, I applauded under the table.  Two days later another chef visited our table for the same reason in Ohana, the restaurant inside the Polynesian Resort…with similar warnings on what Theresa needed to avoid and what was safe.

Think about it:  busy guys, hundreds if not thousands of meals to prepare each day, huge staff to supervise and yet he meets with each patron about their specific needs, whether it be gluten, lactose, peanuts or rudebagas?  It only takes a minute, but manages to prevent complaints, returned food to the kitchen, and God forbid, an anaphylactic reaction by a customer who was unaware that they used peanut oil in preparation of common foods.

So what do you do to make life easier, safer, better for your clients or guests?

Do you bring your own furniture to the job, so you don’t have to use one of their tables?  Do you leave your station as clean as it was before you were there?  Do you help clean up a little while the cake is being served, when you are not entertaining anyone? Oh, that’s not your job? Whoa!

Think about it, the ultimate measure of a good party entertainer is:  Did the entertainer help the party be the best it could be?  Think about all the ways you can do that, and it becomes much more than just face painting or body art. You become a “service” not just a vendor.

What is in your control? How the client and the guests feel once you are in their midst.

What is not ?  The weather…other entertainers…guest behavior after ingesting alcohol…

Everything else is up to you…even whether a guest is allergic to your products.  Make sure you are going above and beyond on each gig. Your clients will remember and recommend you for it.

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