Food Allergy Counseling

Food Allergy Counseling
Sloane Miller, Food Allergy Counselor (Picture © Noel Malcolm 2013)

Friday, August 21, 2009

Cautionary Tale for Both Patron & Restaurant #3

A man walks into a restaurant. He says to his server, “I’m anaphylactically allergic to eggs in any form, cooked, raw, dried, any eggs, anywhere.”

His server takes this very seriously, informs chef and kitchen and they go to great lengths to create an eggless menu for patron.

While the patron and his party are waiting for food, the patron says to the bartender, who was out of earshot of the egg-convo with server, “Can you make me a key lime martini?”

The bartender, not knowing what that drink was, made one up; a “flip” version of a citrus drink. (Eggs in drinks are very hot right now; see Mad Men.)

The patron tasted and said, “How did you get it so foamy? Wait, is there an egg in there?”

“Yes,” the bartender said, “that’s the foam.”

The patron says, “I’m allergic to eggs!”

The bartender says, “Do you have your Epi-Pen? What Can I do to help, I’m so sorry and I had no idea. No one told me you had an egg allergy.”

The patron takes some unspecified medication (not a shot of adrenaline), stays through rest of meal and is apparently okay.

***

This story is told to you third hand, so please add a grain of salt when reading as with the two previous cautionary tales. However, even third hand there is a clear issue here: the patron assumed the bartender knew of his egg allergy, although the patron never directly told the bartender of his needs.

It cannot be underscored enough: the patron must always take responsibility for telling everyone around them of their dietary restrictions. And follow up. And then follow up again.

Mistakes happen in restaurants that are the restaurant’s fault, all the time, absolutely. But just as often it is the patron who has not done their job in communicating their needs clearly to the highest person in charge and then repeating.

Don’t let this happen to you. Speak up with confidence and graciousness, with a smile, to everyone. Never assume and recheck when you’ve received your meal or drink.

2 comments:

Go Allergy Free said...

I can so well relate to your advice. My husband will ask for peanut free confirmation before sitting down at a restaurant, while ordering, and again when the food arrives. He believes that he needs to be absolutely sure as the waiter(ess) has too many patrons to serve to remember our kids peanut allergies. I believe he is right. We have had it happen a couple of times where the waiter brought something to the table that contained nuts. And of course my hubby saved the day by asking about the nut ingredients when the food arrived.

allergenius said...

Yes! Thank you for this! It's a nice reminder that even though we might feel like we are droning on and on, it is so important to check, and double check.

There is a restaurant in Brooklyn that I frequent religiously. Their owner cooks virtually nut free (I say virtually because they had a cheese plate at one point with nuts on it). Even their (uh-mazing) baked products are nut free.

So even though I go frequently, the thought of that cheese plate haunts me (and in spite of their constant "Oh we're totally nut free! Our owner's son is allergic to nuts) that is still not enough for me!

So every time I go I turn it into a straightforward, but light and gracious exchange

Me:"So you really are still totally nut free?"

they're unwavering response?
YES!

(this, like the assurance "We accomodate allergies all the time" is totally insufficient for me- I want to know processes! Procedures! Ingredients!)

Me: Oh? Well how about-

and then I go through the dishes I'm interested in, ingredient by ingredient.


The story you posted shot some adrenaline through my body just remembering my own experiences that were similar.

I just posted my own double/triple checking strategies (and the rewards that come with clear communication-namely options!) on my blog!

www.theallergenius.com