This is a quick word or two prompted by this morning’s post on Daniel Berman’s excellent FUSSYlittleBLOG where he talks about food allergies and restaurants. I’m always happy to see someone other than myself tackle the issue because it’s a real concern of mine on several levels.
I know I’ve talked about allergies on chefsday but I have not done a post dedicated to them.
Here is the comment I left on Daniel’s blog post: “This is an important subject to me for two reasons. First and foremost is that my seven-year-old daughter has a severe dairy allergy that is life-threatening. She had to have an Epipen once when an apple orchard made it very clear that their “homemade” cider donuts were dairy-free. Since they were apparently homemade we trusted them. The day after the incident my wife called to report the issue and they in fact were made with a mix that contains whey. This is a case when the customer was honest and the vendor was not.”
“As a chef who has had to deal with a real allergy I know what can happen when someone ingests something they shouldn’t. In my kitchen we take allergies very seriously and do everything we can to accommodate them. We change utensils, we are careful in our methods, and in our plating. It’s disheartening when a server reports back that the same customer with the allergy is sharing food with dining companions that contains the reported allergen. It happens more often than you’d think.
These scenarios have caused me to be skeptical. My wife and I don’t trust food vendors, and I don’t trust customers. While honesty may be the best policy, it’s not the common policy. It’s too bad because someones life could depend on it.”
Don’t stop here, read his post as well. It’s good and it’s important.
If you have an allergy tell me, I’ll make sure you’re safe. If you don’t like something, tell me, I’ll eliminate it as best I can without having to bring the kitchen to a halt. Remember, we want to cater to your likes and dislikes. Also remember, there are other customers who need to be served and the attention needlessly focused on you can take away from their experience.
Have some dignity, don’t be selfish, and be honest.