People Who Don’t Have Eating Issues Should Butt Out

On New Year’s Eve, Ox Restaurant, an Argentina steakhouse in Portland, posted an Instagram photo of myriad sticky notes with dietary restrictions. Eater published the photo under the headline This Is Just a Nightmare of Restaurant Customer Allergies.  

Photo from  Ox Restaurant in Portland on Instagram, 12/31/2013

Photo from Ox Restaurant in Portland on Instagram, 12/31/2013

I was all ready to read yet another negative review of customers with food allergies, but that wasn’t the case. What Ox owners Greg and Gabrielle Quiñónez Denton wrote on their Instagram post, and Eater reported, was that the special orders were “nothin’ special.”

Nothin’ special!

Keep in mind, this was a ridiculously busy night–New Year’s Eve! And the restaurant was offering a prix-free menu. Personally, with my myriad allergies and celiac disease, I would never ever expect a restaurant to “redo” a prix-free menu for me on one of the busiest nights of the year. In fact, I called five restaurants weeks before New Year’s Eve to find one that was offering a full menu and then I asked if they could accommodate me.

I’m nice that way. Evidently not everyone in Portland with food issues feels the same way I do. Again I say, Bravo Ox!

Here’s the part that’s gonna make you mad  . . . the comments that followed Eater’s brief article.

Oh where should I start?  Maybe with this one . . .

Comment #1: The percentage of gluten allergies here is about 20%, the reality is about 1.5% in the country. So most of them must be a choice. Next time choose to stay home.

Not sure where this guy got his numbers, but I’ll go to the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness for mine: “One out of every 133 Americans has celiac disease. That’s equivalent to nearly 1% of the U.S. population. However, 95% of people with celiac disease remain undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. This means that up to three million Americans have celiac disease and only about 200,000 know they have the condition.”

Wow. No matter how many times I hear those statistics I’m still astounded, and I’m always left thinking how many people are suffering and not knowing why.  Maybe they’ve figured out they should eliminate gluten from their diet before a doctor told them to.  They made a choice not to eat gluten. Therefore, according to the guy above, they should not dine out.

For so many of us eating gluten is not a choice but a medical necessity. I would like to think many restaurants are glad I choose to spend my hard-earned cash at their establishments.

Comment #2: They should go to the hospital not a restaurant. People that haven’t worked in a restaurant should not eat in one.

I worked at Friendly’s in high school so I guess I’m qualified to eat in a restaurant. What a weird way to think. I haven’t worked in a clothing store, so I guess I shouldn’t shop in one. I haven’t worked in a grocery store, so I guess I shouldn’t buy groceries. I’m just going to stop here.

Comment #3: What’s the most annoying is that most of these are preferences, not allergies.

Huh? More than 170 foods are known to cause allergic reactions. People can be allergic to odd foods like lemon and pepper and lentils; I know people who are allergic to all of these. I happen to be allergic to asparagus and capers and nutmeg. I usually don’t list all my allergies when I order at a restaurant (we’d never get to eat!), but I do request no asparagus because it’s such a common side. I’m sure waitstaff think I just don’t like asparagus, but the reality is asparagus makes me really, really sick.

Comment #4: [They’re] just begging to have their food spit on. The entitlement mentality of modern US diners is just out of control. Stay at home if you have so many stupid allergies, no one really cares.

This person is just heartless and mean. Obviously he/she has never met someone who has gone into anaphylaxis, or had a child double up in pain because he ingested wheat. According to the Centers for Disease Control, there has been a 50% increase in food allergies since the 1990s. If everyone stays home, how will restaurants survive?

Comment #5: I waited tables in the early nineties with a tyrant of a chef; he would not do special orders and if we asked, he would go berserk. I totally understand the side of the customer saying, we’re paying we should get what we want. But then there is the side of the restaurant, one special order per server upsets the whole flow of the kitchen. People take their demands too far these days.

Did you hear that people? You are taking your  food allergies and celiac disease demands too far!  You are upsetting the flow of the kitchen. How dare you!

Final comment from an allergic foodie: People who don’t have eating issues should butt out.

People Who Don’t Have Eating Issues Should Butt Out” originally appeared at Adventures of an Allergic Foodie.

11 thoughts on “People Who Don’t Have Eating Issues Should Butt Out

  1. I rarely eat out because I have MCS and even a little whiff of perfume can cause my throat to close off. I have a list of food allergies but the worst is raw carrots. I found that as long as I said I was allergic any restaurant I have been to has been very accommodating. If they cannot make the salad… without the carrots they have offered me substitutions at no extra cost. I’m sorry there are so many angry ignorant people in the world. I forgive them and spend my time with the warm hearted caring people that will accommodate my disability. I hope you had a wonderful day. 😀

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  2. My brother is a chef, and he teaches at a culinary school. Yes, there are tyrant chefs out there, and tons and TONS of ignorant, hateful people. But, especially after having grown up with me and seeing the crap I’ve gone through with an anaphylactic dairy allergy, he cooks and teaches with the mantra that “Any chef who is worth a damn should not only understand how serious food allergies are, and how not to cross-contaminate, but they should be able to do so with ease and very little effort”. So Bravo to this steakhouse! They have a REAL chef on board. Also, they’re in Portland(ia) so it’s to be expected 😉

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    • Kudos to your brother the chef! We need many more like him. I am particularly happy to hear he teaches in a culinary school….. if chefs learned about allergies and cross contamination early on, dining out would be more pleasurable, less stressful. Thanks for sharing.

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  3. How callous people have become! If a restaurant says it can accommodate food allergies, then nobody should be complaining about having to do so. And other patrons should just stay out of it. Its none of their business if another patron asks for a substitution — it’s not affecting their meal. I’ve had to eat gluten free at restaurants in the past, and have been fortunate that they were usually pretty good about it (Ruby Tuesdays was one), and I would hate to have been treated like a troublemaker at any eating establishment for having to have a menu item altered. There ARE people who will demand special order items out of preference just because they can, and because they think its fun to put the restaurant staff in a scurry (I’ve known a few of them), but it’s not up to the restaurant staff to decide who really has the allergy and who is just being persnickety — too much is at stake.

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