Food Allergy Counseling

Food Allergy Counseling
Sloane Miller, MFA, MSW, LMSW, Psychotherapist; Specialist in Food Allergy Management, Speaking At Mylan Specialty / EpiPen Event (© Noel Malcolm 2013)

Monday, February 15, 2010

“It’s not your fault”

I’ve heard this twice. In the space of two weeks. From two different restaurant general managers.

Once was at Slice Perfect in the West Village while sampling their menu. The other time was at Hearth, while talking to GM about whether they could handle food allergies; I have yet to dine there.

This declaration of my lack of fault-ness was in a direct reference to talking to the GMs about food allergies and how some people may not want to bother the chef with their requests or the kitchen or feel shy about their allergies. To which those food service professionals said, “It’s not your fault that you have allergies”.

Two GMs saying this isn’t a trend but it was worth noting. Is there a shift going on? What do you think?


allergenius said...

hmm quite interesting! I usually get the pity look- what do you think it means?

Allergic Girl® said...

oh i get that too--way too often.

but here, i think this is the inverse of pity. it's hey, these requests are cool.

ps slice has revamped their GF pizza and i'm digging it. review to come.

Portside said...

From my recent experiences here in DC, restaurants/managers/servers/kitchens seem to be much more confident and capable about handling food allergies.

Which has certainly helped my confidence in going out - which is quite nice.

Marty said...

Yeah, I get the pity look more than I get the eye roll, so I guess that's better. There aren't many in area (SW Montana) that actually know how to make food taste good and still be allergy free, but at least I can get food to eat in a restaurant.

Gretchen said...

I seem to get the look of fear that seems to say, "please just decide not to eat here so I don't have to worry about you having a reaction and then suing me."

I usually get that look as soon as I ask if something contains nuts.

My husband and I are taking a trip to Atlanta soon. When I noticed that one of the restaurants we hoped to visit had only 2 desserts, both of which contained hazelnuts, I contacted the manager and asked if any of the other dishes contained nuts but didn't state so on the menu.

He admitted that yes, they did, but completely declined to answer any further questions, instead telling me that I should just talk to the chef when I get there. He seemed afraid to try and give me any more information, like I was trying to catch him in a lie or something. The fact that the manager doesn't know the ingredients of the dishes and furthermore doesn't seem inclined to find out, makes me very worried...

Allergic Girl® said...

gretchen, dont leave us in suspense... what did you do? i hope you did not make a reservation.

atl is a big town i'm certain there are other chefs that would not treat an allergic patron thusly...

calling ahead and doing some planning will really help. and i agree, if a GM seems flustered, confused or reluctant, go elsewhere.

Gretchen said...

We decided not to make a reservation, which was a huge disappointment to my husband, but I don’t want to spend our first weekend alone in several years at the ER. I told him that he can eat there the next time he is visiting friends in the area.
My husband was actually a restaurant manager for many years and always took customers’ food allergies very seriously, but I don’t know if he would have been so conscientious had it not been for his relationship with me. He used my food allergy experiences as a touchstone with his customers. When they described their allergies to him, he would tell them that he understood, and he would oversee their dishes from start to finish.
With the increasing occurrences of food allergies in this country, one would think that more and more chefs and GM’s would have personal experiences with food allergies that would affect restaurant policies and behaviors. I’ve often wondered if we will ever see a food allergy challenge or even a food allergic chef on Top Chef --- I think that could do wonders to spotlight the food allergy community.

Jenny said...

Great discussion--in my experience, most restaurants want to accommodate us. However, if they ever seem nervous about it or unsure about their own ingredients, we just don't eat there.

Rebecca said...

I agree on that... Do you guys think the economy has anything to do with this trend?