/ Certified Free From™, Gluten-Free

by: Lauren Chiarelli

Have you ever been to a restaurant where the server doesn’t write down your order? Does this impress you or make you nervous?

Personally, it makes me nervous every time. As someone with Celiac Disease (CD), I do not want the server to forget that I tried to notify the kitchen that my food needs to be handled with care.

Typically, I cook every day, so going out to have a meal is a BIG deal. Don’t get me wrong – I am grateful to have a meal prepared and served for me. However, it’s hard to indulge when there are real risks involved. Recently, I encountered a few servers I would like to acknowledge – namely, how they handled my notifications.

For starters, if someone with an allergy takes the risk of dining out to eat, they are responsible to notify and alert the staff. Incredibly, there’s a rise in proactive restaurants that are ahead of the risk and their liability, they develop action plans for when a customer tells the restaurant that they have a food allergy and the restaurant knows what to do to avoid direct and cross-contamination.

Last week, I went out for brunch at a local spot (Rise) and let the server, Craig, know that I have Celiac Disease. I asked if the butter on the Gluten-Free toast came from a tub that the staff uses to butter standard toast. At that moment, he knew exactly where I was coming from and how serious I was about avoiding gluten.

He suggested that the bread not be toasted and that he would use a container of fresh butter to add a dollop to the bread. I may be gluten-free, but I am not taste-free! After that, Craig made a few other suggestions on ensuring that the eggs would be cooked on a different surface and in a separate pan. Craig – this yolk is for you!

Another recent win from a consumer’s perspective: I went to Cava and the plater, Michelle, asked me what I wanted. Before I provided my request, I alerted her that I have Celiac Disease. So, she swiftly changed her gloves and used fresh utensils for each option that I wanted to build my plate with. When I told her how awesome that was to see, Michelle casually (and proudly) replied, “No worries. We’ve been trained on how to handle cross-contamination. So, I know what to do!”

Refreshingly, after some restaurants are notified that a customer has a food allergy, properly trained staff will wipe down the table and chairs with a fresh bucket of sanitizer and a clean rag. Phew! Talk about being able to relax and settle in. And lately, it’s been convenient when I go to make a reservation, I’m able to add a note like “Gluten-Free/Celiac Standards Please!” and see more restaurants are taking it seriously.

Restaurants – I’ll take an extra serving of this, please!

About The Author:

Greetings! My name is Lauren and I am a Senior Fulfillment Specialist at MenuTrinfo, as well as a personal chef and mum. 

For years, I struggled with narcolepsy, muscle fatigue, acne and stomach issues and I struggled to find a solution. If I started to fall asleep in the middle of class, thankfully, some teachers understood I couldn’t help it and would give me a nudge to wake me up. Instantly, I would stand up and run outside or in the halls. I tried everything to consistently stay awake- especially while driving or during dates!

During college, as a member of the nutrition club on campus, I attended a presentation on Celiac Disease and saw fatigue as a side effect. Considering that my symptoms were like that of those with Celiac Disease, I gave it a college try and the symptoms slowly went away. Since then, with all this extra energy, I have been putting that energy to use to understand allergens, food safety, to experiment with alternatives for cooking and baking recipes, and to study the various impacts of food on individuals.

I’ve seen how allergens have been handled in commercial kitchen settings for over a decade. Not only have gluten-free products improved, but so has the industry’s awareness of it. 

Photo Credits:

Main Photo – Rise: A Breakfast Place

Photo of Chicken Salad via Cava Official Instagram