October 2, 2012 by Diniquette
Nowadays it seems like everyone has an allergy or an intolerance to something. I actually waited on a woman who was allergic to latex and bananas…..(I can’t make this stuff up). Considering this epidemic, there are some etiquette rules to follow to make sure your dining experience is not only enjoyable, but safe.
*No matter what you’ve heard, every single restaurant WILL try to accommodate allergies. Sometimes it is problematic because the kitchen prep areas are small, so they can’t absolutely promise you there will be no cross contamination, but they absolutely will try.
*You are the one with the allergy/intolerance…..IT IS YOUR JOB TO COMMUNICATE THAT CLEARLY TO YOUR SERVER! I know that this sounds like a no brainer but I’ve had guests only tell me some of their allergies and then they order a Chef’s tasting; and even though I, the server, asked several allergy related questions, the guest was embarrassed to list all of his allergies. As you can imagine that Chef’s tasting didn’t go over well. Don’t ever be embarrassed! Your health and well-being are more important than you feeling like you’re going to piss off the Chef. Allergies don’t piss off Chef’s…..rearranging their composed dishes piss them off. (we’ll talk about that at a later date).
*If your crafty: I had a guest who had so many allergies he actually made pre-printed business cards with all of his allergies listed. Right there in black and white, that I was able to present to the Chef, which actually made it a million times easier for the kitchen. So if your crafty and have a lot of allergies, that’s a good idea.
*It is your responsibility to understand your allergy, not the restaurants. Example: I had a guest who said he was deathly allergic to soy oil but could have soy bean oil. If you’re shaking your head, you win the prize: THEY ARE THE SAME THING. He wasn’t allergic to soy oil at all. Be informed.
*Please don’t lie to your server. Allergies are taken very seriously at restaurants. The kitchen has to actually stop what they’re doing and do a whole new preparation to make sure what you ordered is allergy free. That costs them time, A LOT of time, which then can affect everyone else in the dining room. If you DON”T have an allergy, don’t say that you do. Just communicate what you don’t want to eat clearly and nicely and I promise you , you will be fine.
*BE NICE> I’ve waited on several people who had garlic allergies. That is tough one because garlic is in just about everything, including stock. That means that your selections will be limited. Please don’t get pissed at the server, for your allergy. It’s not the servers fault that you can only choose between 5 things on the menu. Some Chef’s might cook something special, but most will not….especially in a Chef driven restaurant.
*Best plan of attack: when you make your reservation, if it’s thru Open Table, in the box that says “notes for the Maitre’d” write out all of your allergies, so the restaurant is now prepared. If you actually call the restaurant, talk to the host or ask to speak to a manager, and they will make sure the kitchen is aware of your allergies, before you even walk in the door. That will make for a very smooth evening for you and the kitchen.
I hope these tips helped.
Thanks for reading.