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"cooking with a loaded gun" food intolerance  

post #1 of 42
Thread Starter 
“Cooking with a loaded Gun”

Another day at the office sitting here with all the usual aches and pains, tired & of course hungry. I ‘m still pondering over last night’s service “why do they do it? With the Restaurant nearly full & all covers happy we take a CHANCE 2. I say chance because after taking there order the waiter informs of a short list of Food Intolerances???? No this No that la la la, my message back to our chance table is a simple one “Please leave” and on that note they did the honourable thing and promptly left the building, and no they didn’t cause much of a fuss although I was expecting some kind of an apology from them.

Now this might be a Can of Worms and some might find this a little arrogant on my behalf. I can assure you that this is not the case……Choice for the clients of course, and Choice for myself and my Brigade. They will go away knowing that our Kitchen didn’t give them any cause to complain or call back 2 days latter claiming that They have just spent 24hours in intensive care and what’s the name of our solicitors. Head chef that I am can now sleep without any cause for concern, maybe there was flour in the stock, and maybe the nuts did get into the Pate blah blah. No instead another great shift without a complete Intolerance Kitchen Meltdown.

My message is simple “you’re not welcome, go home and be safe”

My esteemed colleagues Opinions are a great thing-however Options would be a compromise “I like my food the way it is, its purpose, texture, exacting ingredient, balance of flavour but above all the pleasure it gives”

What’s your thought?
post #2 of 42

We have special keys in the Micros for allergies

On this side of the pond that would be completely unacceptable. Even in the snobiest of French places. I actually kept a printed card(provided by the client)with an extensive list of her severe allergies. It was always a challenge to cook for her, but there is nothing I love more than a challenge.

There is another side to that card with even more common stuff but I think I've made my point.
Keep those fires burnin'
Keep those fires burnin'
post #3 of 42
A good % of my income comes from providing alternatives for vegans, celiacs, nut allergies......Works for me. I know what goes into my food. There are no set menus. Frankly I use olive oil/butter alot. Vegetables are predominent in my kitchen (as is meat). Generally not an issue to make sure there is enough for a vegan to eat off a buffet....and enjoy it.
I've called prior to showing up, and normally not at slam time with a friend who has severe gluten issues. If a kitchen isn't setup with non-gluten dishes on the menu or willing to sub, then a NO works better than frustration of not being able to order.

One would hope that someone with allergies would say so when they make reservations to see if you are accomodating. Would save time/embarrassment/etc.....

It's not arrogant, it's your business. If you choose not to adapt they can (and will) find someone(s) who will......still a free marketplace.
cooking with all your senses.....
cooking with all your senses.....
post #4 of 42
I have to agree with shroomgirl. There have been many instances where I have gone out to talk to a table about there food intolerances and have fully satisfied them. The one thing I make sure I do is to talk to the table personally so I know exactly the nature of the problem, discuss with them what they can and can not have and make sure they enjoy their time in my place. I also inform them that if they are going to come in again that they phone in advance and inform us of their allergies and that way we will be more prepared and possibly able to offer them a choice or two not on the menu. This way we have everything ready to go for them when they get here and there is no chance of anything being wrong with their food.It really is not that big a deal and to accommodate people takes so little extra effort on our part and gets us great free publicity from our customers telling people about our place.
post #5 of 42
You turned your back on a huge opportunity to garner favorable word of mouth advertising, succeeded in alienating and inconveniencing people who were ready to give you money from their pockets, fostered a sizable amount of negative word of mouth advertising, forgot your place as a member of the service industry, and acted like a big jerk.

The golden rule of word of mouth advertising is that a pleased customer will tell 1-2 people of their favorable experience, but that an unhappy customer will tell 10. So, in your case, assuming the table was a 4 top, you can now be assured that 40 potential customers in your target market will not patronize your establishment.

But hey, you really stuck to your guns and gave them the what-for, didn't you? That'll teach them not to ask for a little accommodation for their health, won't it?
They'll know now not to mess with that big bad chef! and will happily patronize another restaurant who shows a little care for their specific needs.

Liquored up and laquered down,
She's got the biggest hair in town!

Liquored up and laquered down,
She's got the biggest hair in town!

post #6 of 42
I'd go for it, but leave out the "you're not welcome" part.

Some people with severe food allergies can be brought to death's doorstep by very tiny amounts of substances you didn't even know were there. Maybe the tahini came from a machine that previously ground peanut butter. Who knows?

I'd probably have a very nice explanation written up and printed that the server could show the customer, explaining that you value their safety more than their business, and if they actually have a severe food allergy, you can't guarantee the absence of the allergen, and that they should leave.

Doesn't seem like it should be a big problem. What's the customer going to complain about? That you refused to risk their life?

post #7 of 42
Severe food allergies scare me to death! I can understand why you do what you do, but I don't think it would go over well with many. In fact, there are so many people out there these days with allergies that you'd lose a good portion of business.

About the celiac thing...Shroom, I have a job later in the summer and in a group of 30ppl, 3 are celiac, 1 is vegan, and another few don't eat sugar. The hostess wants me to prepare food for EACH special need. I'll surely do it as it means more $$ for me, but I've suggested that she allow me to do salad and/or entrees that are vegan, sugar free, and celiac friendly rather then 3 seperate ones. She's buying me new cutting boards and paying have me shut down and cover my baking area and all tables with plastic wrap prior to working on her food as the 3 celiacs can't even have thier food in a room with flour.

This is not a party I am looking forward to!
post #8 of 42
I dunno, foodnfoto. There is a difference between an a'la carte restaurant where the guest springs it on the server, and a catering event where you have prior knowledge to guest's diets. Now if the Customer would have called up the restaurant and said something like "we have reservartions for 8pm and one of our party has allgeries to _blank_, it would be a little different too. But this was in your face, no prior warnings, and the knee-jerk reaction is to cover your hiney is a survival instinct. Lawyers and lawsuits will do that....

I understand the severity of allergies. My kids are healthy, but I remember at daycare peanut butter was VERBOTEN, and the care-givers had to go through EACH kid's lunch, EVERY day because one kid was deathly allergic to peanut butter. For people who make a decision to follow a certain diet, I don't have that much compassion, but I do have respect.
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
post #9 of 42
You can say it nicely. For example:

Unfortunately sir, we are not equipped to handle your request. Try as we might, there is still a risk of contamination. This is partly due to the way the kitchen was designed, and partly due to the way the law regarding our food sources is written. We would rather not take the chance and have you live to enjoy another meal elsewhere than to ruin everyone's day by having to call an ambulance.
post #10 of 42
de-sensitise.... do what i do... cook the food, do your best, and think to yourself "odds are they were making it up anyway, they just dont like dairy products" and vegans are on my "shut up you moaning gas bag" list as well as vegetarians who make a big deal out of it...

veganism is stupid... vegetarianism is fine, just dont try and put across that being a veggy makes you better than me or ill slip some meat in your food...

most allergies i will accomodate and simply add that "while every precaution blah blah blah, not my fault blah blah blah, you couldnt sue if you wanted to i warned you blah blah blah"

i warn them, then serve them, if they die, its their fault not mine... order something simple...

dont order a nut soufle and expect me to pick out the freaking nuts... get used to garden salads people... its the future!

or go to your doctor and be de-sensitized to your allergens...
post #11 of 42
Thread Starter 

"the gun still smokes"

Debates are often healthy and bring their own challenge and we may read into things without really thinking them through. I ask for thoughts of yours, and you bring on verbal nonsense in an effort to justify your “own” practises, philosophies, and theories. With scorning words and bitter taste like some rampant Cooking Buda on a politically arse injected world changing Mission.

Ok maybe my message was a little harsh, how much clearer can I make it!

I will no be held accountable for your own Illness, way of life, requirements, special needs, blah blah….. Pshyco chef, don’t think me rude we all love a Challenge, but there’s a challenge and there’s challenging & sometimes its easy to forget the empathy of our dinners & our own standards in circumstances OUT with our control. So please don’t preach the old I give a xxxx routine as it doesn’t wash, “my craft has no prejudices your all welcome here, my house na na na Oh and if you don’t like the chair covers let me know, we will gladly get some new ones for you”. By the way what is “the snobbiest of French”???

Foodnfoto, you are without doubt a food critic and I might add a true indication of what quantifies you to write with such detail, and truly gripping reviews. “me a jerk! So what!! Cant wait for your next enthralling, mind blowing e=mc stats blah blah blah” Oh Golden rules now theirs food for thought.

post #12 of 42
Catering in all its forms has changed over the years. Our clients are more discerning. They want to be thrilled and they also want to be pandered to. If you want to keep up with trends, i think you also need to keep up with the hype. Ok so many gluten free's are just playing on a bit of wheat intolerence but if it makes them feel good that you made an effort for them, well thats the business we're in... Keeping the customer satisfied.In a corporate buffet lunch for 15 i had a gluten free/ gluten free vegetarian/ vegan /and a dairy free... I was gob-smacked... Gave them all the same Thai beancurd spicy salad with lentil pupodoms.
To end. I would challenge any of you to complain/refuse to serve/ make less than a supreme effort to keep client safe/ or generally be pissed off at a customer ordering a mega- allergy meal, if you were a high end head chef trying to keep a reputation for excellence to a high profile customer.
Let me put it another way. If your most highly respected person in the world walked into your establishment tomorrow, asking far all the above, would you really show them the door...
"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
post #13 of 42
Thread Starter 
asking far all the above, would you really show them the door...[Symatics, normal people behave normaly Your idea just wouldn't happen]
post #14 of 42
I used to have pretty bad allergies when I was a kid, but through desenitizing, or outgrowing, I no longer have many at all. BUT, that's me. Some people are debilitized with thier allergies and I don't believe there's anything they can do but to stay away from whatever bothers them. I know the woman who hired me for this job and I remember when one of her daughters was very ill before they knew what was wrong. The daughter was around 30 and hadn't had any trouble before. They were afraid she was going to die. That's why they're so hyper-alert to the whole celiac thing.

I think veganism is more of a political statement. To each his own, but I agree with you- I don't want them to preach thier dietary choices, or any other, for that matter, to me.
post #15 of 42
What do you mean?
"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
post #16 of 42

......uh, ........huh?:confused:

Ok, sorry, I wasn't calling you a jerk, just saying that throwing out paying customers for making a
of requests was acting like one. There is a difference.

You are shooting yourself in the foot, my friend.

A small amount of graciousness in this industry goes a long way. Surely, you are familiar with the ingredients in your menu and with a little thought and consideration (especially judging by the food items on your website) are capable of making a suggestion as to what your food sensitive guests might want to order.

Do a little reality based market research. The stats I stated earlier are accurate. People LOVE to report about negative experiences. Look how popular the "worst meal" thread is on ChefTalk.

But in our world, food allergies are real and a rapidly growing public health issue. Buck it all you want, but those who adapt to these requests and accommodate unusual needs with understanding and graciousness are the ones who walk to the bank with smiles on their faces.

I apologize if I hurt your feelings by my somewhat snide earlier comments. I've been duly censured by the wise moderators.
My bad:blush:

Liquored up and laquered down,
She's got the biggest hair in town!

Liquored up and laquered down,
She's got the biggest hair in town!

post #17 of 42
He may have been a little harsh, but in this litigious society, he could have saved himself a lawsuit.
post #18 of 42
Just as a by-the-way. I ALWAYS have in my veg freezer, Home made, gluten free pastry/ plenty of deep fried beancurd/ veg including okra, bitter melon,peas, block spinach, Coriander and methi. Dry goods - rice noodles, potato flour, gluten free flour, Xanthan gum. I have masses of fresh fruit and vegetables. A spice selection to cater for most tastes...And i CAN turn my hand to most allergy requirements at very short notice, because i'm PREPARED. Surely thats the point? Prep is everything.
I'll get off my soap-box now. But it's handy if need it.
"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
post #19 of 42
I don't agree. As head chef it is your job to have the skill and confidence in your kitchen to be able to provide great food to anyone. Just because they can't eat wheat or they are a vegan doesn't mean you can take there money and get them to come back. That might be a little arrogant to say.
Chef Jack
Chef Jack
post #20 of 42
i had a women phone today(i always ask to speak personally to any vegi,s or allergy people so i hear first had their req.its for a wedding of 400.she has allergies to lactose,citrus,yeast and PORK(NO SHES NOT JEWISH)now i,m no prof but i,ve been told a lot of people who think they have allergies are simply in their head.i know there are a lot out there with real probs but i feel a lot of people out there are making are job harder by folowing a fad.(rant over.)
post #21 of 42
I apologize if I am speaking out of place.

I had a severe allergy to shrimp (and other crustaceans), and luckily for me it has passed after about 7 years, but I had anaphylaxis a couple of times from shrimp. Once it was at a Japanese grill in Boise. I had steak, but the shrimp that had been cooked on the grill before was by itself enough that I couldn't breathe very well. The food was cooked in front of us, and that's how I knew shrimp was cooked there first. I love shrimp and was envying other people's dishes! I was severely allergic. I wouldn't have sued, but I can certainly understand restaurants that won't take a chance on that. It took some of the fun out of it for me, and I also understand a chef not wanting to take that chance.

Lawsuits have gone crazy.

I couldn't sue if I were dead, but you get my point? People might blame the chef, which I think is uncalled for.

By the way, I found out the allergy had passed from an extensive allergy test involving 5 big blood samples. It was a transient allergy.
post #22 of 42
Thread Starter 

"don't buy a Ford if you wanta Toyota"

Foodnfoto, you didn’t offend or hurt my feelings but thanx for Post, my apologies for “food Critic” I meant Food Editor, is there a difference? Just kidding. Specific needs are a whole new debate so I ask, “Where do you, or we draw the line, and how long is a piece of string?

Here’s a thought, Car dealers (a fine example) now would I go down to the ford garage, look at the models, get in the car turn the key and then ask the salesman for a xxxx load of extras, and bye they way I need the car in half an hour!!! NO you would let them know what you wanted in advance, well you know what’s coming, MOTO.if I want a ford I Buy a Ford if they cant sell me what I Want then, I tend to go to a place where they will be delighted to pamper my every little special requirements. Salesmen (no disrespect to car smen) “well sir we have this nice new ford, all of the extras you wanted, even replaced the leather hide with Fish skin as I know some times its ok!! Tchef…sorry couldn’t resist that back to the wee story, Now sir, Miss is everything to your liking……..pause……..Well kind of! Sman what do you Blah Blah Blah Mean……”we have just found out this car, that we came to purchase……it is not a Toyota!

Choice, Choice Choice!

The moto of course is if you want a Toyota rather than a ford, go to the right Garage.
post #23 of 42
Thread Starter 
chefjackgig, "what are you ranting about? and who is "them"? do you have special requirements?.....always good to start with substance

post #24 of 42
Thread Starter 
bughut, i'm sure you have all the things you require to Feed the entire world and every kind of allergy on the Planet, and yes your right Prep is always the Key. Just as i have all my Ingredients for all the dishes that I create for My Menu, thats not the Issue or indeed a valid Point. Lets not head into the area it an alergy or don't you like it,
It always brings a smile to my face when the Special People g/f ask if the pre starter is SAFE for there needs....and on finding out it might not be such a good idea the gladly decline, untill the rest of the Table remark on How tastey they are.......and just maybe I should try one....well they are COMP

post #25 of 42
It's your restaurant and you ought to run it the way you believe in.
post #26 of 42
I read this post, and was quite shocked. I read it, then I read it again just to make sure I really read what I thought I did. Then, I looked at the status of the person who wrote it, I expected to hear something like that come out of a mouth of someone who works as a short order grill cook at a fast food restaurant, not someone who calls himself a "Professional Chef".

In my opinion, you, the "Professional Chef" have just given the rest of us a bad name. This might just be the most UNprofessional thing I have heard of in this industry so far. Maybe I am just over conscious of it because I just went through nutritional science in school, but I felt that what I learned in school about food allergies was really quite easy to comprehend. It is not that much of a challenge to cater to the ones who are not blessed with the "I can eat anything I want" gift, like myself.

Sorry for the blow up, but if cooking for someone who would appreciate it is not your cup of tea, then maybe you should be the one working for McDonalds.
It's always funny until someone gets hurt, then its freakin' hilarious!
It's always funny until someone gets hurt, then its freakin' hilarious!
post #27 of 42
Welll, unprofessionally on my part . . . Who is going to tell a chef how to run his place? A student? Or somebody who has their own thing and isn't in tchef's place? C'mon that's almost as bad as bad advice. Who's taking a pot shot next? tchef knows the situation there way better than any of you others do. I thought this was a place where people respected each other.
post #28 of 42
Thread Starter 
Oregon Yeti,

Thank you for your Kind words, "whats your thought" was the start of my post and Now after my Public Hanging.....still not convinced that there is argument not to support my Stance !!!!

post #29 of 42
I wasn't trying to p!ss anyone off here. I was just saying that there would have been much more rational ways to handle the situation.
As far as respect goes, I have respect for many people, but when respect isn't given to others, it is hard to respect those. Oppinions are like ******** everone has one, and to everyone else, they usually stink.

<< Edited to remove profanity>>
It's always funny until someone gets hurt, then its freakin' hilarious!
It's always funny until someone gets hurt, then its freakin' hilarious!
post #30 of 42
I think the "you're not welcome" phrase is what set a lot of people off. I don't think it was meant the same way we would take it in the USA. I think it's a cultural difference in expressions, since tchef seems quite civil and well-mannered.
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