Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Gluten-Free, Killing Me

You know, pride kicks in some times when it shouldn't. When I come up with a special each night, I want my servers and cooks and managers to try it to make sure it's up to par, the restaurant's, and more importantly, mine. It's my masterpiece, my Sistine Chapel, every night. If it's not, then I wouldn't put it on your plate. So I know the fact that it's all about the food and not the person creating the dish, but it really pisses me off when a customer desecrates it by asking for substitutions.

Some chefs refuse to allow substitutions, but my chef will bend over backwards and throw in a cart wheel at the table to make the guest happy. Not so much when it comes to The Mad Chef. I often ask for no substitutions on my specials. It's the special for a reason, although when allergies are involved, of course I'm lenient. But still, if you don't like that particular item then choose something else from the menu! It's big!

Go ahead people, tell me I won't make it far with that attitude, you wouldn't be nearly the first...but I have followed a few successful chefs in my short career that follow the same principles. They each have their own restaurants now with their names on the doors. Regular menu items, fine, butcher them if you like, but leave the specials alone! But here, I don't have the right to say no to such things...yet.

Tonight a woman came in and told the server that she could not have any items containing gluten. The server then pre-selected 3 items for her, and she said no to all of them and asked to speak with the chef. The server comes back to get me, explaining she cannot have any items containing gluten, but he did not tell me she had already said no to the items we had on the menu that were gluten free.

So, in my own head I'm thinking, this should be damn easy, gluten allergy, all too familiar in this biz. I approach the table and the woman begins to rattle off all the items that she cannot have. This takes a moment and I let her finish, thinking in my head this is more difficult than it needs to be. I am already stepping outside of my realm by trying to deal with a customer...not my favorite task, but it is what it is.

After she is done speaking I politely say, "Ma'am you have a gluten allergy correct? We can..." interrupted abruptly by her screaming (so the surrounding tables all begin to pay attention simultaneously) "IT'S A DISEASE THANK YOU VERY MUCH!"

OK, I'm no doctor, nor will I ever pretend to be one, but a gluten allergy being labeled a disease was a new one for me. I was almost speechless, almost. I did not hesitate to offer her a dish (that I would prepare personally) containing several items she was allowed to eat. And the smile that came across her face was sincere, and she simply said thank you.

Grrr. I hate to pass judgement on people, but this is why I don't like to deal with them directly. The attitude just isn't necessary. I'm just trying to help, lady, despite the fact that you pissed on my chapel!

1 comment:

Baddfrog said...

In case you care...which seems highly unlikely because you appear to be slightly crazy.

Some people have an autoimmune reaction when they eat gluten that causes the body to attack itself. That's called Celiac Disease and it causes a host of problems. Most people just have the gluten sensitivity of allergy.

One of the side affects of Celiac is irritability...which apparantly your drama queen patron was experiencing at the time!