‘Heroic’ Wahaca boss saves life of customer who choked on salad

Restaurant chain Wahaca has paid tribute to a “heroic” store manager who saved the life of a diner who choked on one of its salads.

Federica Meneghello leapt to the rescue when Philippa Stratford turned red and struggled to breathe at the Mexican outlet’s Stratford branch.

She performed the Heimlich manoeuvre in front of customers last Wednesday to avert a tragedy and later admitted it was a technique she had learnt during first aid training when she joined the business three years ago.

She told the Evening Standard: “I got to the table and saw she was red in the face and couldn’t breathe. Then I did the manoeuvre Wahaca taught us at first aid training and after three times she spat it out. She said she felt okay, and I told her to sip water slowly and gave her some milk. I just tried to reassure her.”

Wahaca took to Twitter to give a “big shout out to our heroic Freddie” after news of her effortswere reported by the newspaper.

Mrs Meneghello added: “I’ve practised it at first aid courses but I’ve never had to use it. I was a bit scared because I wasn’t sure if it would work. We tried it on mannequins and each other but none were actually choking.

“I haven’t been a hero. I’ve just done what a normal person would’ve done which is don’t let someone else die, especially not in front of you. I just tried to do my best and help her as much as I could. I’m so pleased she’s fine and there have been no repercussions.”

Wahaca has been operating for more than a decade and runs over 20 branches nationwide. Co-founder Mark Selby said: “We’re so proud of Federica and the whole team at Wahaca Stratford on their quick reactions. We train all of our mangers in first aid, so we’re delighted that it was put to good use.”

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