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Best Way To Deal With Servers?

restaurants eating out

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#1 annajazz

 
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Posted 14 November 2013 - 08:47 AM

 So it begins, learning how to eat out.

 

So the other day I went to this local Mexican restaurant that I LOVE. 

So I, before becoming a Celiac, always got a platter of a shredded Beef Burrito, Mexican rice, re-fried beans, and, of course, chips and salsa.  

 

I went their last night and had a talk with the server asking her to talk to the cook to see if their was any flour in the re-fried bean, rice, or the shredded beef in the burrito (I was planning on just getting the innards and not the tortilla).

She became really hostile to me, like I was trying to find out their recipes or something and trying to change they way they cooked o.o . I explained to her that I could not have Wheat etc... that, for my safety, I was inquiring about a specific ingredient not all of them. 

 

Basically got to where I did not trust that she would make a point of asking so I requested to be served by someone else. The new server was very understanding (she told me how her child has a peanut allergy). So I found out that I just had to skip the Mexican rice, but got some creative rice w/other spices in it that the cook dished up :)

 

My main point is how do people deal with this? People who know someone with an allergy tend to be more understanding( I have concluded this because I also have 10 other food allergies, though easier to avoid), but why can't other people get it?

 

I just don't want to have a waiter/server not check or etc...when its very important. 

 

I guess the run in just kinda shocked me. Has anyone else had similar experiences, or was my server a rarity ? 

 

Thanks!

 

 


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#2 GF Lover

 
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Posted 14 November 2013 - 09:00 AM

I feel I must remind Celiac's that cooks, servers, chefs or anyone else in the food industry is not responsible for what we choose to eat.  If someone chooses to eat in a facility that is not entirely free of gluten then you are taking a chance that you will cc yourself.  It really doesn't matter is the server is well informed or nice or indifferent.  For instance, you order a baked potato, it is inherently gluten free, the cook cuts the potato in half and dumps butter on it.  Two things happen, a knife that may be contaminated and butter that may be contaminated.  Do you take the chance?  It is your choice.

 

Colleen


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#3 annajazz

 
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Posted 14 November 2013 - 10:12 AM

I feel I must remind Celiac's that cooks, servers, chefs or anyone else in the food industry is not responsible for what we choose to eat.  If someone chooses to eat in a facility that is not entirely free of gluten then you are taking a chance that you will cc yourself.  It really doesn't matter is the server is well informed or nice or indifferent.  For instance, you order a baked potato, it is inherently gluten free, the cook cuts the potato in half and dumps butter on it.  Two things happen, a knife that may be contaminated and butter that may be contaminated.  Do you take the chance?  It is your choice.

 

Colleen

 

Well, I hardly believe they have to be responsible for our well being, but on the other hand I can't understand why it is so hard for them to ask the cook if they add wheat to any of their dishes. I'm talking about a mom and pop restaurant, not a chain restaurant where no one know whats really in anything. I chose a Mexican reason solely because this one does not serve a lot of flour containing anything other then tortillas.

I mainly posted here to ask how people cope with these instances of having people not believe/indifferent to something that would make one very sick.

 

It's coping, I'm trying to cope. I really did not post intending for people to give me a lecture on how I'm leading myself open to cc, I understand the risk. But I refuse to allow this intolerance to keep me lock inside at my own kitchen for the rest of my life. I just want some advise on dealing with this. I'm very shy and hate having to tell people I can't have gluten as is. Your reply was very insensitive. :'( 


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#4 SkyBlue4

 
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Posted 14 November 2013 - 10:51 AM

I'm too new to have any tips about eating out but this issue is addressed today at theglutensummit.com.

Listen to the presentation by Melinda Dennis. She is speaking on this very topic and has some suggestions.


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#5 NoGlutenCooties

 
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Posted 14 November 2013 - 10:59 AM

I am relatively new at this too, having been gluten-free for only 6 weeks and I've been intimidated by the idea of eating out.  But I have done it a few times now, starting with breakfast.  I wait to order last so that I have the waitress' full attention and less chance that they will forget about my request while they're taking additional orders.  I start with, "I hate to be a pain, but I am very allergic to wheat.  Could you please make sure that no bread comes anywhere near my plate?" - I know Celiac is different than an allergy, but most people understand the concept of an allergy.  Once they realize that you realize you're asking them to do a little extra work, I have found that they are more receptive.  Yes, it should be part of their job - but it's all part of managing people and their perceptions.

 

The one time I ate at a buffet I waited until one of the wait staff was not busy and just standing to one side and went up to her to explain my situation - "I hate to be a pain, but I'm gluten intolerent" - then I pause to see if they seem to know what that is or if they look at me like I just started speaking to them in a foreign language.  If they seem to understand what I'm saying I keep going, "Could you please tell me if the sauce on the chicken was thickened with anything?" - in this case the waitress could not have been nicer and went into the kitchen and grilled the chef.  She even brought the jar of BBQ sauce out to me so I could read the label for myself to know that the ribs were safe - and she double-checked with the chef to make sure he hadn't augmented the recipe with anything.  (I know many Celiacs avoid buffets like the plague and going forward I will try to as well - but in this particular case it was a small group of people and the restaurant was not that busy.)

 

I suggest trying to get to the restaurant when they aren't as busy - do dinner a little earlier than the usual dinner rush crowd.  If they aren't as busy, they'll have more time to pay attention and will be more likely not to mind doing something a little extra on the side for you.  If you know where you're going ahead of time, check their website and/or call ahead.  They'll appreciate that you gave them a little extra time to do what they need to do.

 

I went out to an Irish Pub just last night for a drink with friends.  I ate ahead of time "knowing" an Irish Pub was not likely to have any snacks that I could eat.  To my surprise the waitress overheard me tell someone that I was gluten-free and she brought me their new gluten-free menu and explained how the entire staff had to go through training recently to learn what it meant to be gluten-free.  They even had gluten-free rolls for their burgers!  And the waitress made it a point to tell me that they keep their gluten-free rolls separate from their regular ones.  I didn't try them, because I had already eaten... but if an Irish Pub can get with the program it gives me hope for others.


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#6 IrishHeart

 
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Posted 14 November 2013 - 11:40 AM

I'm too new to have any tips about eating out but this issue is addressed today at theglutensummit.com.

Listen to the presentation by Melinda Dennis. She is speaking on this very topic and has some suggestions.

 

I was just going to post this exact same suggestions and you beat me to it!   ;) so I will just say "do this".

Melinda Dennis  is wonderful ---as is her book Real Life with Celiac Disease.

I highly recommend it to all celiacs and gluten- intolerants alike.

 

Colleen's reply raises an important point. 

 

I recently got hit at a nice little breakfast/lunch place where they offered me many G F options, told me they had dedicated space in the kitchen,

used UDI's bread, knew what cross contamination was, etc. etc...They even offer meals in individual skillets...and yet, over the course of a few weeks, I had a plethora of symptoms return because I trusted them several times. My own fault and I paid for it and now, I have to go back in there and tell them what happened and hope they make some changes. But I don't expect them to do it for me. I just want to keep future

G F diners that go in there safe. If you say we have gluten free meals, then make sure they are really gluten free.

 

Using the same spatula to butter everyone's toast, using a shared grill, the same big jar of salsa or mayo......these are things

that may be overlooked by someone--even though they mean well and even if they understand "wheat allergy" over "I have celiac".

Dining out is a crap shoot, I am afraid.

 

I have been able to do it successfully many times at more upscale places where they make things from scratch,  at a wedding where the caterer understood what I needed  or at places like Bonefish Grill where the staff has been trained by people from GIG.

I got burned at a "vegan/gluten-free" place in NYC last summer because they had "gluten free items" yes, but their prep area must have been

a cesspool of cross-contamination.

It's risky business, either way.  :unsure:

 

I usually ask if they have dedicated kitchen space and if they can prepare anything gluten free. If they say yes, or tell me how they do it

(separate pan, ingredients, etc) then I'm comfortable. Otherwise, I find somewhere else to dine.


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#7 bartfull

 
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Posted 14 November 2013 - 12:10 PM

I don't think Colleen's answer was insensitive. It's just the truth. I have only eaten in restaurants a few times in the past two and a half years. Twice it was at a place that my "son" worked, so I knew he would take care of me. Once was at Outback (they have a gluten-free menu and good ratings from the celiac crowd.)

 

My son doesn't work at the first restaurant anymore (off to college), so I won't be going there anymore. And Outback was OK. I din't get sick, but the food was nothing to write home about. So now the only place I would risk is a pizza place about 50 miles up the road where one of the family members is celiac, so they do it right. I know several celiacs in my area and they have all eaten there many times without getting sick. I haven't had a chance to get up there yet because I work so many hours, but one of these days I will.

 

Other than that, I only eat what I cook at home. I still go out and enjoy the company of my friends, I just eat first. (Then have ice cream when I get home. :lol: )


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#8 notme!

 
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Posted 14 November 2013 - 02:01 PM

I mainly posted here to ask how people cope with these instances of having people not believe/indifferent to something that would make one very sick.

 

that is the main problem:  most people don't even know what gluten is (or why we are asking all these crazy questions lolz) - to *us*, 'do you have a dedicated gluten free fryer?' is an important question - to them,( unless, as you pointed out, they are allergy savvy) it's over the top.  most of the time they don't know the answer or they may tell you the wrong thing - like, sure, the fryer is dedicated.....  it's too late to find out after you are sick that it was dedicated to frying things (what?)

 

my sister is the office manager of a pretty nice restaurant - i can't eat there, even though they have a gluten-free menu - they do not have separate prep areas, they use the same grill to cook everything, and there is no regard to cc, as bread is 'harmless' if they just take it off the plate.  BUT they still tell their customers that their food is gluten-free, they *assure* them.  i would be sick as a dog if i ate there.  the only reason my sister knows that (and complains loudly to them ) the food isn't safe for celiacs is because i have it.  but most people don't know any celiacs  :(  or even know what it is :( or what gluten is, for that matter.

 

you don't have to hide in your kitchen, but you might be stuck in the bathroom  :o  because you do take a chance if you eat out.  i am speaking from a dumb point of view confession that i not only got hit once (last month) (and i quizzed servers and they told me what i wanted to hear = you can eat here, no worries. but they were wrong and guess who had to pay the piper?  not the server!)   as soon as i got over the first one (14 days of misery) i went right out and ate at a place that i had eaten safely before, only to get hit again (another 14 days) it's gonna be awhile before i get my nerve up again!  as a former 'restaurant snob foodie' i say to you:  good luck  :) 


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#9 ItchyAbby

 
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Posted 14 November 2013 - 02:45 PM

How do I deal with servers? I don't*. It's not worth the risk to me. If I get glutened, I will be covered in blistering hives for at least two weeks and be battling overwhelming anxiety that disrupts my ability to do anything. I'd rather cook for myself and know it's safe, than try to guess as to whether a server is really "getting it". Colleen's response did not seem insensitive to me either - she is just telling it to you straight. There is no "magic formula" for speaking to servers that's going to keep you safe. We cannot make them understand if they do not already.

 

So, the issue is that you may need to re-orient yourself a bit, socially speaking. I had to and am still working on it. It's awkward, yes, but a small price to pay for not having my life completely disrupted. What are some other things you like to do with friends that do not involve food? Museums/galleries, hiking, music/performance, classes, lectures, farmer's markets... the list is endless. It's easy to think "Woe is me! I'll just have to hide in my house now that I cannot eat gluten" when first diagnosed. But you'll adjust and find new ways to enjoy yourself, safely. I started taking sewing classes and attending a Friday night Sew-cial at the studio where the classes are given - lots of people show up and work on their individual projects, there's wine for those who wish to imbibe and music playing. It's been a great way for me to feel less isolated and I get to bring home new garment I made! You are going to have to get a bit creative with your social activities. This can be good thing.

 

You'll also get really good at packing snacks to bring with you everywhere. Some of my favorites: pureed soups in a little mason jar with a good lid (squash soup!); gorp (nuts, seeds, dried fruit, a lil chocolate); jerky or I even just pack a little jar of cooked bacon to snack on; fruit; tortillas or naan (gluten-free of course. this is my fave recipe: http://myheartbeets....n-indian-bread/).

 

And in the event that you do go out, you don't have to eat. Just have a drink and enjoy your companions (eat beforehand and bring snacks)

 

*Edited to add: Meaning, I do not have to "deal" with servers because I do not go to restaurants that aren't 100% gluten free (My city has a few dedicated gluten-free restaurants, thankfully). Maybe see if your town or city has any such options?


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#10 love2travel

 
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Posted 14 November 2013 - 05:37 PM

When I go out to eat (almost never as the nearest safe place to eat is three hours away), I call ahead to speak with the chef. As you are shy, this may help. It is understandable not to desire unwanted attention but you will need to become more assertive out of necessity. If the place does not feel right, don't do it. I would recommend not going to fast food places or chains, either. By no means ever give in to something that sends you warning signals because this is your life.

Eventually, this will become second nature and you will be telling us what works for you!

BTW, if a server is rude, the manager needs to know about it.
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#11 w8in4dave

 
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Posted 14 November 2013 - 05:42 PM

I went to a restaurant one time, got their gluten-free menu Ordered the Steak and Potato. I did tell the waitress I was Celiac. And when my steak came, there was a nice slice of bread across the top of the steak. I just looked at her and said " I am so sorry!" I cannot even have a piece of bread touching my plate let alone my steak" So she took it back and they re cooked me a steak and a new potato. Yes it was a different steak. I made sure to get a good look at it to make sure!! So some waitresses and waiters get it some don't! Why would I order off the Gluten Free menu just to get a slice of bread across my steak? Some just do their job and "Forget" that the person at table 2 said she was Celiac. It's a chance I take every time I go out to eat. 


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#12 luvs2eat

 
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Posted 14 November 2013 - 07:12 PM

How do I deal with servers? I don't either. I've had too many experiences where I've talked to the server and the manager only to have the cook/chef mess it all up... flour tortilla strips in a salad that isn't supposed to even have tortilla strips in it (like Malibu salad w/ fruit as opposed to taco salad)... assurances from the server that there is NO wheat/gluten in the salad only to find fried Chinese noodles covering the bottom of the bowl (after I'd eaten 1/2 of the salad) ... ordering rice pudding and having the server almost knock the spoon out of my hand as I was putting the first bite in my mouth to tell me the rice is really orzo pasta (and the server who took my order was supposedly a celiac). With the best of intentions, they will poison me. If I don't cook it, I don't eat it.

 

BUT... I love visiting my daughter in Portland, Oregon. I've had many delicious gluten-free meals in restaurants there. They totally "get it."


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#13 Pegleg84

 
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Posted 15 November 2013 - 10:35 AM

Yep, taking a risk wherever you go. However, if you DO decide to eat out (and many of us do), then a server who won't take you seriously is not a good thing. You are perfectly within your right to ask for another server, or ask to speak to the chef directly, or say you can't eat there and just leave. You are not trying to steal their recipe.

 

I've gotten into the habit of asking about what I can eat the moment I walk in the door, before I'm even seated (if I'm going out with some friends, then I do my interrogation when the wait staff first comes to the table). If they seem clueless, I walk out. If I've planned ahead where I want to eat, I email or call and find out what they can do. I also appreciate them being honest and saying no, we can't feed you safely.

 

If this place is somewhere you want to eat at frequently, then maybe it's a good idea to chat with the owner (when they're not busy), and find out if you really can eat there safely or not. A bit of awareness can go a long way.

 

Hope you got through your dinner safely!


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~ Be a light unto yourself. ~ - The Buddha

- Gluten-free since March 2009 (not officially diagnosed, but most likely Celiac). Symptoms have greatly improved or disappeared since.
- Soy intolerant. Dairy free (likely casein intolerant). Problems with eggs, quinoa, brown rice

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#14 ItchyAbby

 
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Posted 15 November 2013 - 10:45 AM

 

 

BUT... I love visiting my daughter in Portland, Oregon. I've had many delicious gluten-free meals in restaurants there. They totally "get it."

That's my city! Did you know that we had 4 totally gluten-free restaurants open up just this year? :)

 


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Self Diagnosed with DH in June 2013

MD and ND confirmed shortly thereafter

Gluten free June 1, 2013

Low Iodine July 15, 2013 - (waiting for the rash to clear...)

Other symptoms: IBS-D gone, skin on face much clearer, anxiety gone, periods regulating and less painful, and oh! this one is new: I have not had a UTI since going gluten-free (used to get them several times a year)

Currently training to become a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner. I want to heal as many guts as I can!

 

Love Heals.


#15 upsilamba

 
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Posted 16 November 2013 - 06:22 PM

That's my city! Did you know that we had 4 totally gluten-free restaurants open up just this year? :)

 

To quote my favorite sage on food, I want to go to there!!! But seriously, my boyfriend and I have been talking about moving to Portland since we went there on vacation last spring (right before i got dx'd, so I didn't sample any of the apparently glorious gluten free offerings...). I think i need to shift into hard-core lobbying mode now, haha.  :D


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