Human Interest

Award-winning chef with Down syndrome whips up treats for man’s best friend

Down syndrome

A 32-year-old Florida woman with Down syndrome has built up a national following with her gourmet dog treats business.

Allison Fogarty is a Dog Treat Chef and CEO of her own company, Doggy Delights by AllisonFogarty’s story of becoming a chef is an unusual one, beginning during a two-year period of her life when she was unable to eat and drink normally. She was born with Tracheoesophageal Fistula (TEF), an abnormal connection between the breathing tube (trachea) and the eating tube (esophagus). From ages 11-13, she underwent a series of surgeries and other medical procedures to correct the TEF. During that time, she couldn’t consume anything by mouth, instead receiving all nutrition through a tube placed surgically into her stomach. 

She found herself drawn to Food Network shows — especially Rachael Ray’s show — to help her pass the time and cope. She commented previously, “Rachael Ray saved my life when I was sick. I watched her shows all the time, and I wanted to be a chef just like her.” 

While Fogarty enjoys cooking and baking for humans just like her chef hero Ray does, for her business she opted to concoct healthy edible creations for man’s best friend.  

With the help of the Entrepreneur Academy at the Down Syndrome Association of Central Florida, Fogarty gained the business skills she needed to take her love of baking and turn it into a profitable business. At present, she and her parents make all the treats at their home, with plans for expansion to a storefront someday with the intent to hire workers with disabilities.

The trio daily turns out hundreds of dog treats in seven different flavors, incorporating healthier ingredients like coconut flour and sweet potatoes. Treats are sold frozen locally or freeze-dried for shipping all over the country without the use of preservatives. 

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Fogarty’s hard work and professional success have not gone unnoticed. In 2020, she made her Sweet Potato Dog Treats recipe live on national television on the Rachael Ray show. Later that year, she was named an Orlando Business Journal 40 Under 40 winner. 

Both when she was watching cooking shows during her teenage convalescence and now as a dog treat chef running her own business, she refuses to let an extra chromosome define her. Though she is living with Down syndrome, neither she nor her parents focus on her disability.

As her website reads, “She is an entrepreneur with Down syndrome, but she just wants you to know her as the best dog treat chef ever!”

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