Chef Ming Tsai Recalls Son's Struggle with Food Allergies

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"My first reaction was that's a really unfunny joke from upstairs," he said. "I couldn't wait to cook for my kid. That was my dream."

Eggs, fish, milk, peanuts, shellfish, soy, tree nuts, and wheat make up 90 percent of food allergies, according to a 2008 CDC report that found an 18 percent rise in children diagnosed with food allergies between 1997 and 2007.

As David grew up, Tsai said it was especially hard to visit restaurants, something he loved to do as a kid. As allergies and allergy awareness have become more prevalent, he said people's attitudes have shifted. He usually serves between 6 and 10 tables a night with some kind of food allergy, and he's happy to do it.

"I've seen in my restaurant more than 20 crying mothers," Tsai said. "Each one of them has the same story. They finally got to have a real restaurant experience with their 10-, 12- or 14-year-old kid who's never been out to a real restaurant."

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