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Patina Restaurant Group CEO Nick Valenti Receives Lifetime Acheivement Award from Food Allergy Research and Education

Patina Restaurant Group CEO and Restaurateur Nick Valenti, whose compassion toward diners with food allergies was ignited by family members with celiac disease, has been chosen to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award from Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE).  The announcement was made at a black-tie ball at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on Tuesday night.

Fifteen million Americans have food allergies, affecting one in every thirteen children in the country.  With the potentially deadly disease affecting such a growing population, food allergy responsibility in restaurants has taken on increasing importance.

“We want to ensure that every guest has not only a memorable time dining with us, but a safe one, too,” says Valenti, who co-founded Patina Restaurant Group in 2006. “It is an honor for me and our entire company to receive this award. The effort comes from everyone.”

Valenti’s wife, Linda, and daughter Danielle suffer from celiac disease and are unable to process gluten, which is found in common grains. Having learned to cook for them, and to dine out with a protective eye toward their needs, Valenti expanded the food safety programs at his restaurants. “Helping my wife and daughter develop a safety routine for their meals, while so many of our restaurant guests have been doing the same, has been an eye-opening experience,” he says. “To those who may dismiss food allergy safety, I can assuredly say that it is of vital importance.”

Patina Restaurant Group operates more than 60 dining destinations from coast to coast ranging from the Michelin-starred New York City restaurantLincoln Ristorante and Los Angeles Times four-starred Patina Restaurant to casual cafés and gathering places within some of the country’s most popular sporting venues, museums, opera houses, and shopping destinations.

Nick Valenti leads Patina Restaurant Group in employing the following tactics to safeguard the varying needs of every guest at its restaurants nationwide:

-Devoted company employees are certified as SafeServ® trainers, meaning they have achieved the highest level of knowledge, experience, professionalism, and leadership the industry desires.

-All kitchen staff and most servers have passed the SafeServ® allergy training program, which was developed by the National Restaurant Association and is recognized by more federal, state, and local jurisdictions than any other food safety program.

-All chefs are trained in procedures to avoid cross-contamination. Examples include:

               o   Allergy-sensitive areas in the kitchen are maintained separately (i.e., cutting boards, knifes, etc.).
               o   When the kitchen receives a note about an allergen-sensitive guest, the cooks use a separate set of cooking implements, sanitary gloves, and other items for preparing food.

               o   Allergy-sensitive ingredients are always cooked separately (i.e., gluten-free pasta is prepared in different water than regular pasta).

-All kitchen staff in New York City complete the NYC Food Handler permit process, which is more stringent than required by federal law.

-Menus at all restaurants are constructed to offer alternative options for customers with several of the most common allergies:

                o   Wheat (gluten)
                o   Shellfish
                o   Nuts
                o   Dairy

-Both the front and back of the house document the guest’s food allergy.

-Gluten-free pasta, bread, and dessert are always available.

-Cooks modify dishes to accommodate a guest’s food allergy, whenever possible.

-Cooks create a special dish, when needed.

With over forty years of experience in the food-service industry, Nick Valenti is chairman emeritus of the Board of Trustees at the Culinary Institute of America. He is a member of the Executive Committees of NYC & Co, the Convention and Visitors Bureau and Citymeals-on-Wheels. In 1995, he was awarded the International Facility Management Association’s Silver Plate Award, the industry’s premier accolade, and in 1997 he received the prestigious Gold Chain Award. In 2007, he received the TY Award from the New York State Restaurant Association.