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WGibs

Advice For Working With Restaurants?

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It's perhaps my worst nightmare. I have to attend a work-related function in a restaurant. The good news is that it appears to be a nice restaurant and it's Argentinian, so if nothing else, they should be able to make me a slab of meat.

So, for my question... The organizer of the dinner has given me the go-ahead to coordinate my dietary issues directly with the restaurant. Having never done this before, I'm looking for advice on what worked, what didn't, and maybe just words of encouragement ;)

I really don't want them to just say, oh, sure, no bread, and leave it at that. So, how do you inform them of the seriousness and the wide range of potential problem ingredients and cross-contamination, without sounding so crazy that they ignore you?

I'll be traveling, and it would be a real pain to get glutened mid-trip.

Thank you in advance!

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When going to a restaurant for the first time, I call a speak with the host/hostess and ask if I can fax them info on my dietary restrictions that they can then show to the chef/kitchen. Then a few days before the day of our reservation, I will call to see if they/chef has any questions.

Here is an example of what I would fax to them:

*************************************

Dear restaurant name,

My husband and I will be dinning with you on date for lunch/dinner. I have been diagnosed with Celiac Disease, which means I must be on a strict diet free of the proteins found in wheat, barley, rye, and spelt (ie ‘gluten-free’) or I will become ill. I know this is a lot to ask and I appreciate your efforts. Please feel free to contact me at phone or email if I can provide you with any further information.

Thank you in advance!

Your name

Here are the details of my dietary restrictions:

I cannot eat any wheat, rye, barley, oats, spelt or any ingredients derived from them.

These grains are sometimes hidden in ingredients such as

modified food starch, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, natural

flavorings, emulsifiers, and stabilizers. The ingredient list on all jars,

cans, etc… must be checked for any of these gluten containing additives.

Cross-contamination is a big problem in restaurants. For Example:

my food cannot be cooked on a grill or in a pan where other breaded items

or pasta have been cooked; fries (for example) cannot be cooked

in the same oil in which breaded onion rings have been cooked;

veggies cannot be blanched in boiling water that may have been used for pasta.

Even a dusting of flour or a few crumbs from croutons may make me ill.

Kitchen staff should don fresh gloves and use clean pans to prepare my food.

Most commercial bouillon, especially bouillon cubes, can't be

used, but fresh stock from bones is OK (but, no roux!). Rice is OK, too,

as long as it's cooked in water or homemade stock, not bouillon.

Most soy sauces contain wheat, and malt vinegar is not allowed (barley),

but balsamic, white distilled, and cider are OK.

Sauces are a problem unless they are made with cornstarch or arrowroot

instead of flour, and don't contain other gluten containing ingredients.

The good news is I CAN eat all meat, poultry, fish, fruit, dairy, soy, corn,

vegetables, rice, and potatoes!

Thank you!

*********************************************

Or you might just want to stop in a few days in advance and give them your gluten-free card and chat with the kitchen staff. This will make the day of the event less stressful for you.

Good Luck,

Pam

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Thank you, Pam!

I just got off the phone with the manager and while he wasn't as receptive as he could have been, he did ask me to send him the details by email. I plagiarized your note extensively! Now, I just have to hope for the best. Looking at their menu, it seems that alot of their food is probably naturally gluten-free, so hopefully they'll realize that and not freak out at what sounds like an impossible challenge.

Thanks again!

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