|One of my standard Allergic Girl safe travel meals: hamburger with steamed veggies|
Last week in Boston, I stayed at the Liberty Hotel, a very cool boutique hotel that was transformed from the Charles Street Jail into a swank Starwood property. My hosts had asked me if the Clink restaurant in my hotel would work with my allergy needs. (So nice!) I called ahead and spoke with the manager who said it shouldn’t be a problem.
When I arrived at the hotel, during check in, I asked if the chef was on site as I had some dietary needs to discuss. Calvin at the front desk, said, “Yes, he is and we also have all of your needs written out in your chart.” Nice!
I went and introduced myself to the kitchen. At Clink, they have an open kitchen with the three line chefs right there; the executive chef was in a meeting and off-duty that evening. I spoke with Chef Christian, smiling lots and explaining my needs and that I would love a plain chicken breast with steamed veggies or (whatever they had one hand that was green) or a burger. Chef said that he understood food allergies as he had had a chef colleague who was severely allergic to shellfish. With a genuine smile, he said, “Don’t worry, you are in good hands.”
So, later that evening I returned to Clink and Chef Christian put my order in, the one you see above. It was delish and totally safe for me and Chef couldn’t have been sweeter. I went back to the kitchen thanked him and his co- line chefs for making sure I was safe. He was so lovely and gracious and said, “Just let us know what you want for tomorrow night, anything. You are our guest.”
The next night, when I returned with my colleagues, a GI, an allergist and a child psychologist, Chef Christian had already become my Liberty Hotel food allergy ally. He was there with a smile, asking me what I’d like, happy to make me anything on or off menu. (My dish was off menu.) Going the night before and dining at Clink put my mind at ease (mostly) about dining there the next night with my colleagues. I had the same order and it was delish and safe, again.
In case you think that just because Chef became my on the spot food allergy ally I breezed through this trip know this: even with doing all of the steps and Chef’s reassurances, I still have to take a leap of faith that it was done correctly and allergen-free for me. There are just no guarantees. Mistakes happen. Best intentions have slips. So, I do my part to inform third parties (chefs, hotel staff, party hostesses, dates, caterer, etc.) of my needs in a clear concise way, have and emergency action plan and my medications on me in case there’s a mistake.
And then I take a leap, the little jump that we all have to make that it will be okay. That leap, and knowing that mistakes happen (from years of experience), keeps me on my toes and ready for an emergency. The trick is how to stay vigilant and have a good meal, a good date or a good time. It is a skill, a practice like anything else and happens over time.
Meanwhile, thank you Clink for two lovely and safe evenings!
The Liberty Hotel
215 Charles Street
Boston MA, 02114