Chef Joel Schaefer is a renowned food allergy advocate and the former Culinary Development and Special Dietary Needs Manager at Walt Disney World. Schaefer, who has a dairy intolerance, specializes in culinary education and product development for people with food allergies and other special diets, according toGo Dairy Free.
At Walt Disney World, he spearheaded the push for allergen-friendly kitchens that has made Disney World a favorite vacation destination among families dealing with food allergies. He pushed for company-wide policies so that all Disney restaurants share the same food allergy procedures, creating a more consistent system so that diners with food allergy concerns know what to expect. While with Disney, Chef Joel trained chefs, managers, and servers on food allergy procedures. He also sourced ingredients free of the top 8 allergens and asked for guest feedback, wanting to know which allergen-free products guests preferred.
He recently released a book titled “Serving People with Food Allergies: Kitchen Management & Menu Creation” about his experience developing allergen-friendly menus. He notes that there have been numerous recent advances within the restaurant industry in terms of accommodating diners with food allergies, including providing allergen information, implementing allergen-free menus, and avoiding cross-contamination in the kitchen.
What has been your experience dining at Disney World or other Disney restaurant locations?