Not About Food 13

Food Allergy or Allergic to Flavor?

gaileta | Mar 9, 200804:30 AM

I know this topic has been brought up again and again, but after working tonight, I suppose I needed to vent?

I've worked in various kitchens for the last 12 years, and the only thing I hate about this field is "Well, I'm not REALLY allergic... I just don't like ____" after I've spent a good 20 minutes or more trying to come up with a solution. While I'm fussing over a fake allergy, I'm neglecting the other guest's orders.

I, along with all of my coworkers, take allergies VERY seriously. We do have separate cookware for certain allergies (nut, seafood, etc.). Getting out that specialty cookware, the utensils, and all the special ingredients takes time - but for someone who has a real, severe allergy... it is worth it. I would say all of the real allergy-guests are more than understanding, and gracious. They let us know "Hey, I can't have ____." when they make their reservations, and we prepare ahead of time. I like the challenge of allergies and dietary restrictions when they are honest. I have made sugar-free dessert platters, gluten-free dessert tastings... and my proudest moment: a totally vegan dessert platter (5 desserts, with accompaniments).

Over the last few weeks, I've had several 'gluten allergies'. A few of the guests were very happy as I pieced together gluten-free desserts from things on the menu, and a few thing not on the menu. The rest? One of the guests tonight claimed we ruined her night by not having a selection of gluten free desserts. I offered the same pieced-together dessert as I have been all month (menu changes monthly), and I offered some 'works still in progress' (for next month's menu). The outcome? After 20 minutes or so of 'this won't do', it turns out 'gluten allergy' actually means 'special diet'... and she ordered off the menu.

Lately, on orders and reservation sheets I've seen: 'Allergic to all cheeses, except cheddar and swiss', 'Highly allergic to all peppers - wants extra chipotle sauce on the side', or my favorite 'Extremely allergic to onions, onion powder, garlic, etc.'. Oh the onion allergy: you can't have any of the sauces. Huh? The sauces are made with stock which is made with about 10 pounds of onions. Oh, well it's not REALLY an allergy...

I guess my point is, restaurants DO take allergies very seriously... and my question is: Nearly every GOOD restaurant will try and accommodate your likes and dislikes - and where I've been working for those honest people who say "I just don't like___" we go the extra mile, so why fake an allergy?

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