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Need Some Clever Wording Help
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16 posts in this topic

I need help with a nice and clever way to say: I appreciate that you are being honest in telling me you can't help with gluten-free food. But you are a well known culinary school, you should be able to handle it and I would think you would want to teach the students how to deal with food allergies in the catering setting. At this point, I don't want to try to get them to provide food nor would I let them handle my personal food.

A little background. My hub is getting a community award. He probably deserves it but his boss "bought" it for her glory. So He doesn't really even want to go. When we heard this culinary school known for its great food was catering, we got a little excited. It seemed that might be something they would want to and could handle. This is the note I sent. I wanted them to know it was a medical need not a fad diet or a gluten lite diet. And the response follows.

C,

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I got the same exact reply at Christmas when I called the (very nice) inn that my husband's company's holiday party was being held.

I agree that a chef--especially at the place you are dealing with--should be able to come up with a gluten free meal. I think in both our cases, they just didn't want to be held responsible if we got sick.

I basically just thanked the guy for his honesty and brought my own dinner--which they heated, plated, and served to me when everyone else got their dinners. I told our server about cross contamination, and she assured me that she would look after my plate personally. It turned out fine, and she got a nice tip.

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Nothing clever, but I would reply with something simple, like:

I appreciate your honesty, but am very disappointed that you are unable to accommodate my request.

If you wanted to expand, you could talk about the growing need for gluten-free food and how places that will not accommodate are missing out. If you wanted to be a little stronger about it you could replace the word "unable" with "unwilling".

I understand that you specifically mentioned the medical need as opposed to just a fad, but that probably scared them. On the other hand, you sure don't want them to say OK when they can't (or won't) be absolutely gluten-free.

Unfortunately I don't know of a good way to explain to businesses that don't care what they are missing out on, but I always try to work the other angle. When places offer gluten free and do it right, I always comment, compliment, speak to a manager if possible, and tip well. And I tell them that I will recommend them both personally and via chat boards, etc. and then I do that too!

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I, of course, would go with snotty:

I appreciate your honesty, and thank you for informing me that your students are lacking some basic kitchen skills. I will provide my own meal for this event.

I am saddened to learn that such a prestigious school as yours does not include a basic education on how to produce uncontaminated foods or properly clean cooking tools. With the growing awareness of food intolerances, gluten only being one part of this, it is my hope that, in the future, you will include more basic cooking hygiene courses, as this is truly the only way to provide safe meals to those with food intolerances/allergies.

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I knew Jess would nail it!

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I knew Jess would nail it!

Me too! And I'm considering using it!

Patti, how did they heat up your food? Microwave? I was hoping they would tell me what they are serving. I thought it likely that it was mostly gluten-free. You know the typical banquet stuff - choice of Rubber chicken with gluten sauce or over-cooked steak , mushy mixed veggies , salad (minus croutons). Bring a nice Snickers bar for my dessert!

I'm thinking of bringing my favorite take along lunch - a Go Picnic turkey pepperoni. Open and eat out of the box at the table. Bring a pencil to do the suduko that is printed on the lid. Hub's boss will think I have gone over the deep end! :)

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If your goal is to be able to go to the banquet and not have to lug your own food, why not call and speak to the chef? Perhaps the best thing to do would be to make a clever suggestion. I do agree with the logic that they should be up to snuff on food intolerance issues, but unless they are, I wouldn't want them to pretend with me as guinea pig. You did an admirable job of explaining to them the possible pitfalls of how they could possibly make you sick. But those pitfalls are second nature to you, not them. You have presented them with a problem but you also know the solution. Clearly, they do not.

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"While I realize that you refuse to accomidate my special dietary needs out of fear of a lawsuit should something go wrong, I would strongly suggest that in the future you train your students about the ins and outs of food allergies and intolerances as they are becoming more common, and thus special diets will be more in demand. It would behoove any well trained chef to be both aware of these things, and to be capable of dealing with them. Their future paychecks might well depend on it."

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"While I realize that you refuse to accomidate my special dietary needs out of fear of a lawsuit should something go wrong, I would strongly suggest that in the future you train your students about the ins and outs of food allergies and intolerances as they are becoming more common, and thus special diets will be more in demand. It would behoove any well trained chef to be both aware of these things, and to be capable of dealing with them. Their future paychecks might well depend on it."

Good response. It still amazes me that my little restaurant in a small Upstate NY city could safely train me to feed celiacs and other food intolerant folks 20 years ago and someplace that is training professional chefs today can't do it. :blink: Just wish I'd known I needed the same safe food for myself back then. LOL

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I dunno.

There was a really nice write up about a newer local restaurant here that serves gluten free food. Allegedly, the chef and the owner don't eat gluten. The article was detailed enough to indicate the author had put some care into researching the issue before writing it, and I was pleased to see that. There is an event being held there, that I normally skip, partially because of food issues. So my spouse decides to call them up and interview them to see if they know what they're doing re: cross contamination, for a person who cannot eat gluten, because they will get sick. (mind you, I do eat out, just not a lot, and at venues where I don't react to the food, and I'm not a PIA type whiny customer, I just don't want you picking the croutons off the existing salad and trying to pass it off as you made it gluten free, that sort of thing. And my husband can explain things well, and isn't real pushy, but he is very gluten literate.) And the owner of the place tells my spouse that he doesn't know .... because they prep gluten and non gluten food in the same kitchen... if he can guarantee me a safe meal !!!!! :ph34r: This is in the same town where I can go to the local burger chain, and the TEENAGERS can make me a safe meal because they have a dedicated fryer and they "get it" you just use clean hands, uncontam'd food, and work surfaces, and they serve the thing with clean paper napkins laid down on the tray !!!! My spouse sort of dejectedly comes back to me with this look, like, if we try this, it's going to be a guinea pig sort of event, just like starting with any other restaurant.

<_<:o:huh::unsure::blink::ph34r:

And people are funny, they wonder why we drive an hour or even 2 hours to get to a place to eat out, sometimes. I have gotten hammered badly ONCE years ago at a chain with gluten free menu, on a holiday eve with what I could tell was a new (clueless...) waitress, and I didn't complain because I knew it was a freak thing for them, and I just wouldn't order that menu item ever again. That led to my "never eat out on a holiday eve, or if you are planning a special or sports event the next day" rule. I have a few other chain places I avoid because I couldn't resolve the issue, and I was repeatedly getting low level hits resulting in migraines, but geez, I've done the warnings for the menu item(s) in question, and if less sensitive people can have it, that's fine, as long as the company discloses ingredients, if they don't disclose, they catch %^&*(#@%*&!!! There is another place I recommend to lots of other people, because they're really nice, but they use one non gluten ingredient in most of their baked gluten free food that wrecks me, but there is absolutely no reason I can think of, that other people should not enjoy their gluten free items.

I don't think there is any way to really motivate them if they don't feel like they need that market share. We can say "they should," but sometimes they just don't "want to." I have noticed that a lot of the "fancier" places "for tourists" specializing in "American" "cuisine" seem to be this way. There's a restaurant about 3 hours from here on the coast we used to eat at sometimes, but they changed the menu from basic meat and potato, and oh, mercy, there is not a single thing on it now that works, unless you would get them to leave the sauce off, it's all cooked in sauce/gravy/breadcrumbs/breading. We tried. It's so much better to stop in their local grocery, and get a package of ham and cheese - and some gluten free crackers! Same with this restaurant (near a golf course with retirees, near a trail system) I was checking out the menu of - not cheap - all full of sauce/gravy/breadcrumbs/breading. Gaaaaaah. Yet another reason to not look forward to retirement age. ;) They eat crap when they eat out! Apparently "they" eat nothing but breaded sauced food. Or low fat, sugar free, low cholesterol, reduced calorie, low salt food that STILL manages to be loaded with gluten! My guess is a "culinary school" is training for a certain type of customer, as opposed to the real life, hands- on you might get around a place that will try harder. For example, last year we ate out, at a special place, and the waitress was so savvy, (she had a close relative that is celiac) she on her own brought out a bottle of sauce for me to look at, that the kitchen had requested she investigate that I could check the ingredients on the bottle before using it, instead of just reading it off. Love it, don't get sick there, really appreciated it, and left a good tip.

I don't know. Maybe the event organizer was offered different types of food, but requested a really glutenously sticky menu for the event, and now the place thinks that you're just messing with them.

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Patti, how did they heat up your food? Microwave?

Yes, in the container I brought it in. I told them a clean plate would be fine, and asked the girl to use clean utensils.

I took David's oven risotto with chicken and veggies so it would be simple for them and tasty for me :P For cocktails, I tuck Glutino crackers in my purse and order wine. Dessert I skip and have tea--I can have something sweet when I get home.

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Just saying "oh, this place says they can do gluten free, so this place should too" doesn't tell you anything. The burger joint with the dedicated fryer may have no different protocol for contamination than the fancy-schmancy school, but may be less knowledgeable (or less concerned) with litigation. Hence, they actually mean different things when they say "gluten free".

Honestly, the "we'd love to provide, but we can't guarantee it" is the response I would expect AND WANT out of any place that is preparing gluten containing food in the same kitchen. The second part, "we'd love to provide, but can't guarantee it, so we can try but it is at your own risk" is something that depends on how risk-adverse someone (both the cook/owner and the patron) is.

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I do appreciate that they were honest that they can't or don't ant to deal with a food allergy. This is the response I sent:

'Thank you for your honesty.

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I do appreciate that they were honest that they can't or don't ant to deal with a food allergy. This is the response I sent:

'Thank you for your honesty.

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Great response.

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Got an immediate respnse back. Looks like a CYA statement. Glad to know it is not the students cooking. But too bad for the people eating that they are not cooking.

'The department that caters here is Dining Services not the Culinary School.

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