Wednesday, November 4, 2009

BOKA: A Commitment to Allergen-Free Excellence

Chicago's allergenistas were treated to a remarkable feast last night at the season finale of the Safe & Sound Dinner series. BOKA's red-hot chef--Giuseppe Tentori--was on top of his game, offering an ambitious, allergen-free creation that left the group's members dazzled and inspired.

How does he do it? Over the summer, I had the good fortune to work with Chef Tentori at the Museum of Science and Industry and later spent an evening in his kitchen--listening, watching and learning.

Chef Tentori's protocol to reduce the risk of cross-contamination goes above and beyond those of other restaurant kitchens I've observed. Indeed, his staff's attention to detail is what makes BOKA so exceptional.

When an allergen-free meal is ordered, a booming announcement is made to the kitchen to prepare for a customized dish. Almost immediately, one chef assumes full responsibility for that particular plate and oversees its evolution from start to finish.

Unlike other chefs dedicated to the highest standards in allergen-free cuisine, Chef Tentori wasn't personally impacted by food allergies. Instead, his philosophy is to ensure that each and every customer is afforded the opportunity to experience the pleasure of fine dining.

“When you go out to eat, you shouldn’t feel embarrassed that you have a special diet request," Chef Tentori told me. "It's our job to make you happy.”

The food. The menu was free of the "big eight" allergens, gluten, and 23 additional allergens:
· Crispy White Polenta with grilled eggplant petals, ceci, pickled celery and dehydrated picholine olives
· Fennel-dusted chicken thigh served with a quinoa cream and watermelon radish fennel salad with tomatillo sauce
· Angus tenderloin with braised short ribs, napa cabbage and bacon roll with smoked white runner beans.

Then for dessert, Swirlz cupcakes--drizzled with Pam Rose's signature frosting.

Can it get any better?

This was our last Safe & Sound dinner series in 2009. It’s time to roll up my sleeves and prepare for 2010. If you have any suggestions, I'd love to hear from you. Together, we can make the city Safe & Sound one bite at a time!

Next up: Holiday dining, recipes to wow your friends and family!


Betsy said...

It was definitely the most amazing meal I've ever eaten. Seriously! I cannot even begin to think of anything better!

I can't wait for the 2010 S&S dinners! Each one I went to this year got better and better, but all were truly amazing!

Lisa Cooks Allergen Free said...

Thanks Betsy, I really enjoyed meeting you this year, next year is going to be even better!

Jenn Sutherland said...

Lisa - this was the most amazing meal I've eaten in 7 years GF! WOW - Chef Tentori really outdid himself, and the spirit of true welcome from the entire staff was incredible. The food was amazing, and made more so by the care taken by the entire staff AND the awesome company at our table!

Thanks for a great night out on the town - can't wait for the 2010 dinners!