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Mussina

Allergies . . . oh yeah!

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I just received an email from guest who is supposed to come to the restaurant this weekend. Here is her list of allergies:

aspergillus niger, brewer's yeast, cow's milk products, egg whites, oats, tuna, baker's yeast, barley, beans (kidney or soy) beef, casein, cashews, cilantro, corn (meaning maltodextrin & dextrose, too), gluten, lemon, millet, peanuts, shrimp, walnuts, wheat, whey, bananas, ginger, safflower oil, chicken clams, codfish, dates, egg yolks, gluten, honey, oats, orange, parsley, pineapple, pistachio, plums, raspberries, sage, shrimp, sunflower seeds, vanilla, walnuts.

and YES she is a vegetarian and she only likes cooked food (no salads) and she hates mushrooms. Life in the restaurant world! Any thoughts folks?

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I honestly am all about hospitality and will usually go out of my way to accommodate allergies and special requests, but there has to be a line.

I would honestly tell that person to not come. It's not even about making a menu and cooking for her without those ingredients, I just wouldn't be able to guarantee no cross-contamination from all those items. If shes truly allergic to all that I feel sorry for her but I wouldn't want the liability.

Good luck!

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Looks like rice and wild rice are ok, as are the onion family, mint family of herbs, tomatoes, potatoes, and most vegetables. Here are some ideas, I don't know what type of place you have, so please pardon any wild missteps:

* root vegetable confit with a side of wild rice

* fried rice, fried in oil, with assorted vegetables (although no soy means no shoyu, celery for some reason helps me think Chinese food) maybe, garlicy?

* Chinese style curry noodles made with rice noodles, sides of stir-fried veggies

* A veggie pulau dish, essentially fried rice with chopped veggies and Indian spices (could be done with part wild rice) I like to chop my veggies very tiny for this, like the size of a lima bean, so you can get several bits on a fork.

* baked vegetables, eggplant, tomato, fresh chile peppers, bell peppers, etc. stuffed with a veggie rice/wild rice mixture

roasted vegetable plate: potatoes, cauliflower (check out the eGullet thread on this), turnip, parsnip, sweet potato, etc.

* Soup:

tomato with basil and onion (saute an onion, add a 28oz can of tomatoes and some fresh basil, heat, puree, done)

curried potato and assorted vegetables (made with veggie stock)

broccoli or other vegetable puree (see the Gordon Ramsay youtube video)

veggie pho (several recipes online, use rice noodles)

* Seasonal desserts:

baked apples (no butter, of course)

poached pears

sorbets

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Many people who call themselves vegetarians DO eat seafood (it's just easier than having to constantly explain what pescetarian means). Could you contact her to double-check that?

As for the allergies, I feel horrible for her if she is indeed allergic to all those things. A few of my friends went to see a naturopath a couple years ago and raved about how much he helped them, so I decided to give it a shot too. I came away from that meeting with just as long and just as random a list of "allergies" (determined through homeopathic testing). Yeah, no.

Not to say this woman's allergies aren't valid. They may very well be and I certainly wouldn't risk her well-being because of my own scepticism. But that's a helluva list.


I'm gonna go bake something…

wanna come with?

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I'm with previous posters: I would have to graciously decline to accomodate her, given such a lengthy list of restrictions. You're a restaurateur, not a custom chef. To soften the blow, maybe you could refer her to a friend or colleague that does private-chef work...someone who can work with her restrictions. Perhaps it's someone's idea of a practical joke?

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Funny - I went right to the scallop idea as well (we have some terrific Nantucket scallops right now and was thinking of pairing it with rice and roasted vegetables) so I emailed her the suggestion and lo and behold learned that she is ALSO a vegetarian (and HATES mushrooms). So fish is out.

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Thanks for the suggestions! We are a seasonal, New American restaurant so I usually only serve what is growing on our farm (and funny enough I never serve rice except risotto (which always have cheese and even the vegetarian version uses miso stock which contains soy)). Anyway, I think simple soup and rice and veggies is the best option. Yum!! :-)

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:blink:

Doh!

I'd try to save face with banana scallops, but...

Damn. This IS hard!

Bananas were on the list too!!! :-)

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Goat Cheese?? If so how about a roasted vegetable tower or terrine with goat cheese.

tracey


The great thing about barbeque is that when you get hungry 3 hours later....you can lick your fingers

Maxine

Avoid cutting yourself while slicing vegetables by getting someone else to hold them while you chop away.

"It is the government's fault, they've eaten everything."

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Funny - I went right to the scallop idea as well (we have some terrific Nantucket scallops right now and was thinking of pairing it with rice and roasted vegetables) so I emailed her the suggestion and lo and behold learned that she is ALSO a vegetarian (and HATES mushrooms). So fish is out.

If she doesn't eat fish, why did she include cod and tuna in her list of things she was allergic to? She didn't list lamb shanks or pot roast......

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The list is allergies. She might not be allergic to other meat and fish but she won't eat it. No tomatoes either I just learned. I know that it is insane but the sport of it almost motivates me. We get food allergies ALL the time but this really takes the cake by a mile. I'll find out about the goat cheese but I am doubtful . . .

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How about asking the diner for some suggestions - dishes she's really enjoyed in the past - that you can then "kick up" within her restrictions?


"Life is Too Short to Not Play With Your Food" (coined while playing with my food at Lolita).

My blog: Fun Playing With Food

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Just so we're clear on things, there are actual allergies, and then there are other things that someone may "react badly to."

An allergy is an excessive activation of a person's immune system (by a specific antigen) triggered by a normally harmless environmental substance. That's it. Lactose intolerance is not an allergy. Food that gives you a stomach ache or nausea is not an allergy, and so on. Various people have various other reactions to various foods, and these could be called "an intolerance" or "a reaction", but they are not allergies.

A homeopath telling you that you are "allergic" to apples has about as much (maybe less) scientific or medical weight as saying that apples conflict with your star sign.

Is it possible that the long list of foods causes this person's body to overproduce Immunoglobulin E? Yes, it's possible, but it's very, very unlikely.

On the other hand, if this person chooses to not eat all those things, it's probably a good thing that she is being upfront and clear about them, and it's a good thing that she's telling you ahead of time, rather than when she's sitting at the table. It's just irritating that these preferences are probably being mis-represented as "allergies."

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I just looked back on her email and the word used was that this was a list of "allergens" she received from her doctor. She has been to the restaurant in the past and I do not even recall a gluten intolerance so this is something new for sure but allegedly put together by a doctor??? I agree with the misuse of the word allergies. You have no idea how many folks we get with gluten "allergies" who then ask for more bread.

Just also learned that she does not want a poached pear for dessert if we use sugar or honey in the poaching liquid!

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With all due respect, tell her to stay home. This is taking up way too much of your valuable time over things that are dubious as "allergies" and likely have a lot more to do with food preferences and an over inflated sense of entitlement. Politely decline on the grounds of not having a "kosher" enough kitchen, that cannot guarantee no cross contamination of her meal. Or tell her to bring her own food and you'll plate it on disposable china and serve with plastic utensils that can then be discarded. It would be utterly appalling to have the paramedics have to pull up because she's gone into anaphylactic shock because she accidentally got a crumb of another diner's dish in her food when the waiter was picking it up off the pass or the line cook didn't sterilize the knife before slicing her vegetables.

"Madam, I'm so very sorry but we can't guarantee the purity of your food with such an extensive list of allergies and other diner's meals being prepared in such close proximity to yours. I'm certain you realize that risking liability for an allergic reaction in our dining room is not a scenario we take lightly. Given your restrictions it would be a Herculean feat to be able to serve you anything that wouldn't risk your health or cast a pall over the entire dining room were medical attention necessary for your delicate condition(s). I hope you understand..."

Let's see how many allergies she still possesses after being turned away. I suspect she does this all the time just to see what the chef will do with it. Were she truly allergic to that many things she'd likely have a feeding tube and an IV pole with her. This smacks of all kinds of bullshit...


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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If she doesn't eat fish, why did she include cod and tuna in her list of things she was allergic to? She didn't list lamb shanks or pot roast......

For the same reason she listed gluten twice, egg yolk and egg white separately (and not even next to each other)and included black mold. Because, y'know, every restaurant -I've- ever been to puts black mold in my food.

I once had a very long list of foods that I reacted badly to. It's pretty common when you're recently gluten intolerant, but I've never seen anyone who phrased their list so very badly. Or kept coming up with more things they refuse to eat even though they can. Then again, I would have been pretty grateful for soup, rice and veggies. I went to restaurants very seldom, and frequently contented myself with a glass of water so as not to be a bother or to get sick.

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ElaineK:

You sound like a person that understands the difference between an "allergy" and "reacting badly", as well as someone that understood the limitations that placed upon you. It's unfortunate, but it seems that drinking water so as not risking becoming ill (with real documentable issues as opposed to imaginary ones) is at least a genuine compromise on your part so as to still enjoy the company of your dining companions. This woman doesn't sound like she understands the limitations she's placing on the restaurant or the liability issues involved at all. Sounds more like a Double Dog Dare to the chef to find something that will please her... :rolleyes:


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Frankly, I think you would be better off without this person as a customer.

I have a fair number of allergies myself, but mine are in groups, are specific and have been positively identified by testing by an allergist.

I've never had to notify a restaurant ahead of time and would never consider doing so.

Her list notes items that are unrelated and non-specific and sound more like whimsy than fact.

This also sounds more like one of the compiled "allergen" lists that is pushed by so-called "environmental allergy experts" who convince people that they are allergic to numerous things.

Naturally, they have "treatments" that are costly and totally useless.

This also sounds like a legal problem in the making. People like this are often looking for a way to squeeze money out of business people. Last year there was a case in Las Vegas where a woman with numerous allergies claimed exposure to something in her hotel room. It was soon discovered that she had made a similar claim in Florida and in another state. It was a scam.

Note the inclusion of safflower oil. It is highly unlikely that this ultra-purified oil would be involved in producing an allergic reaction.

Even people who are very allergic to corn can use corn oil because the processing removes the protein factors that cause the reaction.

(My daughter falls into this category.)


Edited by andiesenji (log)

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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I'd be curious as to how you finally handled the situation and what you made for her.

To be honest, I agree with the people above. I don't think it's worth the risk. She might very well have all these allergies, but seems like if she did, she wouldn't want to risk having a horrible reaction in a public place. I certainly wouldn't!

You might test her and bring up the subject of cross contamination in the kitchen. Maybe she'll want to bring her own cutting board and knife!

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