As a new mom, I love the insight, parenting tips and ideas I get from blogsand I especially love to work with bloggers. After attending the Reviewer’s Retreat at Great Wolf Lodge Concord, PA-based mom-blogger, Gina Badalaty, wrote about her children’s dining experience on her blog, Mom-Blog.com. I asked her to share her story with you. 

Gina Badalaty blogs about parenting, raising children with disabilities and advocating for special needs families at Mom-Blog.com.  She lives in PA with her husband and 2 beautiful daughters, and a cat that thinks he's a dog. 

Enjoy, 

Susie

 

Tips for Traveling with Kids with Allergies

Gina's daughter enjoying a meal at Great Wolf LodgeMy children have allergies.  Specifically, their diets need to be gluten- and casein-free, which means they can’t have dairy or any kind of wheat products.  When we travel, we have to be careful not just to avoid glutens, but also to make sure the food they eat is not cross-contaminated. They can’t even eat something that has been on the same grill as food filled with glutens.

Going on vacation can be challenging! As you can imagine, this means that vacationing takes extra work on our part, so our favorite trips are to resorts that help make this easier. Great Wolf Lodge is a place we really enjoy. The resort’s chef will personally talk with you and discuss your needs for a gluten-free menu. My kids love that at Great Wolf Lodge they can eat food they love, and we are happy that everything can be made to their health requirements. Our meals are even cooked separately!

We’ve learned a lot along the way. Here are a few of my top tips for traveling families whose children have special diet restrictions and food allergies:

Do your homework beforehand.
There are dozens of apps that tell you where the gluten-free restaurants are, but it’s up to you to do your own due diligence.  We once went to a park that advertised itself as being dairy- and gluten-free, and when we got there, we discovered that was not the case. Spend time on your destination’s website. Call the resort or attraction. We were pleasantly surprised by how accommodating and helpful the staff at Great Wolf Lodge was—it made our vacation less stressful!

Buy fresh produce along the way.
My children eat tons of fruit and vegetables because they are naturally allergen-free and will do in a pinch!  We try to buy organic, and during family road trips, when we drive by a local farm stand, we make a stop.Gluten Free Meatballs and Mac

Take advantage of resort amenities.
At Great Wolf Lodge, each suite has a refrigerator and a microwave. We often travel with our own snacks and this is a great way for us to keep fruit fresh during our stay. Gluten-free bagels are easy to carry and eat in the car, as well as serve as late-night snacks!  

Talk to the staff.
It is always a good idea to talk to the chef. Many restaurants and resorts, like Great Wolf Lodge, invite you to talk to the chef specifically about your family’s dietary needs and allergies.  You can share your family’s needs and he or she can detail what steps they can take to prepare food that best suits your child.

During the summer months, I’ll have the opportunity to introduce you to our talented culinary team. Our executive chefs work each day to provide delicious, healthy, fun meals to our guests. I look forward to introducing them to you so you can learn a little more about what makes them howl in the Great Wolf Lodge kitchen.  

Christian Massey is the Executive Chef at the Great Wolf Lodge in Mason, OH.  Massey has been creating culinary creations for families in Mason since 2006.
 
Starting out as a culinary lead, Massey has held several different titles in the Mason food and beverage team. He worked his way up to Executive Chef at the resort and enjoys teaching others and helping to inspire their personal growth.
 
Great Wolf Lodge - What is your all-time favorite food?

Chef Christian – My favorite food would have to be ahi tartar with quail egg.

GWL - Now that's not something we serve at the Lodge. What have you created just for Great Wolf Lodge guests?

Chef Christian – There are so many to choose from.  To name two of my favorites:  cheesecake with lemon essence/zest and candied micro basil and fried portabella mushrooms with bruschetta.

GWL - Since you've been at Great Wolf Lodge, what have you brought to the dining experience?

Chef Christian - We have created upscale banquet menus for our meetings and events at the resort, as well as implemented our Food Allergy Training Program. Our guests have such different needs and we don't want them to have to worry about their dietary restrictions while on vacation.

GWL - What inspires you most as a chef?

Chef Christian – I love to make people happy with food. When you see the expression on someone's face as they enjoy something you've made, it makes it all worth it.

GWL - What advice do you offer to someone who wants to become a chef?

Chef Christian – I tell young chefs to make sure they know what they’re getting into. Time, commitment to constantly learning new ideas and incorporating new concepts, and pushing people to be better at their jobs is a big part of being a chef.  I also think it is important that chefs know how to teach others and help inspire their personal growth.  

GWL - What makes being a chef at Great Wolf Lodge so special?

Chef Christian – Being Executive Chef at Great Wolf Lodge is a different type of work. I don’t just at a stove, but I interact with guests and group sales clients on a daily basis. I know that I have a chance to help each of our guests have an even better stay. Creating food is just the beginning.

When on vacation, what is important to you? Comfortable rooms? Variety of activities? Value for your money? For me, food is high on the list. When we travel, I subscribe to the “there are no calories on vacation” mentality, so restaurants with good food and variety are important!

My family and I have been having fun discovering—and tasting—the many options for meals, snacks and even drinks by the pool at our Great Wolf Lodge resorts. This summer Great Wolf Lodge has added a number of new dining options to help make eating at the resort just as much fun as it is playing there.

In my opinion, nothing says vacation like a delicious pizza. I love pizza fresh from the oven and so do our guests. Our new Hungry As A Wolf pizza location at the Great Wolf Lodge Mason is quickly becoming a guest favorite. With choices like homemade pizza, bread sticks, salad and the “Wolf-It-Down” family meal, everyone in your pack will agree on this meal. You can pick it up and enjoy it poolside, or take it back to your room. Great Wolf Lodge Pocono Mountains also has a Hungry As A Wolf takeout pizza window.

Vacation and buffet are two words that go hand in hand. And for guests staying at Great Wolf Lodge Concord, buffet also means value. At the Loose Moose Cottage in Concord, the breakfast buffet consists of Wiley Waffles, hash browns, bacon, muffins, cereal, fruit and my personal favorite, made-to-order omelets. Dinner features a carving station, salad bar, entrée specials and even a “kids only” buffet filled with healthy kid-friendly foods. And—we can’t forget to mention the Wiley Waffles are served at dinner, too! Wondering where “value” comes into play? Until September 3, Kids Eat Free at Great Wolf Lodge Concord. Children 10 and under can enjoy a free breakfast and dinner buffet, when accompanied by a paying adult.

Great Wolf Lodge Sandusky also has a similar summer program in Lumber Jack’s Cook Shanty and the Gitchigoomie Grill. Families can receive one free child breakfast or dinner entree per regular priced adult entree purchased. What a great way to save money—and experience a sit-down meal together!

Have you ever eaten with a wolf? How about a raccoon? Now at Great Wolf Lodge Grapevine you can. Each morning, guests can “Wake Up With Wiley and Friends” and enjoy a unique character breakfast in the Camp Critter Bar & Grill. Bring your camera because the experience includes tableside visits and autographs with Wiley, Violet and Oliver the Raccoon, and a complimentary 4x5 event photo and souvenir. Seating is limited for this fun-filled breakfast and reservations are recommended.

At Great Wolf Lodge, meals are the perfect time to come together and share highlights from your day in the waterpark, Cub Club activities and MagiQuest adventures. Happy dining!

 

 

During the summer months, I’ll have the opportunity to introduce you to our talented culinary team. Our executive chefs work each day to provide delicious, healthy, fun meals to our guests. I look forward to introducing them so you can learn a little more about what makes them “howl” in the Great Wolf Lodge kitchen.

Great Wolf Lodge Traverse CityMeet Chef Thom Bennett. Chef Thom has served as the Dining Room Manager and Sous Chef at the Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City since 2009.
 
Every day, Chef Thom uses best practices he has learned during his 25 years of experience in the food and beverage industry to inspire his staff as they keep Great Wolf Lodge guests top of mind. Chef Thom recently told me a little about himself and shared a recipe favorite.
 

GWL - What inspires you most as a chef?

Chef Thom - The art of it. I love to help bring out the creative side of young culinary people.

Great Wolf Lodge - What is your all-time favorite food?

Chef Thom - There are too many to list. Cajun food, Southern cooking, Italian, French. I really like Middle Eastern food, too.

GWL - Do you have a favorite recipe or culinary treat you created just for Great Wolf Lodge?

Chef Thom - My two favorites are Wolf Berries and “Blueberries on a Stick” that are dipped in chocolate.

GWL - What makes a meal at Great Wolf Lodge different from other places?

Chef Thom - Kids. It's fun to be here. There is always something happening for the kids.

GWL - What makes being a chef at Great Wolf Lodge so special?

Chef Thom - I like my work and the staff. They are talented and good people. Every day is different and that keeps my work interesting.

 

Chocolate Fondue

 

This is yummy and simple! Take dessert favorites like Rice Krispy treats, marshmallows, or cream puffs and dip into smooth, rich chocolate. Yum! Fruit such as strawberries, bananas, blueberries and pineapple are also great foods to dip. Love pastry? Use pieces of pound cake or even brownies. 

This recipe makes 1 ½ cups of ganache. (Ganache is a classic French preparation.) 

Ingredients:

12 ounces chocolate, chopped into small pieces
1 cup heavy cream
Optional - 3 tablespoons flavored liqueur

Instructions:

Place chocolate pieces in a large bowl. Heat heavy cream on medium high until it comes to a boil. Remove from heat and immediately pour cream over chocolate and stir until completely mixed and glossy. Microwave until it melts and pour in a bowl for dipping.

Tips for success:

  • Don’t serve the chocolate too hot. Chocolate will burn if left too long in a microwave – and you don’t want to burn your mouth!
  • Add flavor to your chocolate: almond, peppermint, or orange liqueur are a nice flair for this dessert.
  • Arrange the pieces for dipping around a platter and place the bowl of chocolate in the center. Use fondue forks for dipping.  Enjoy!