There are always two sides to every story.
This would be the food industry.
Not the manufacturers of food (who have jumped on the gluten-free bandwagon just fine, thank you) but the chefs who work their butts off each and every day so we can all enjoy a meal out once in awhile.
One of my good friends is a personal chef at a vacation home and he has recently opened my eyes to what he goes through on a daily basis as food allergens have become all the rage.
Here is a recent email I received from him:
The issue for people in the food industry is that we deal with people who have this allergy and that allergy and if I eat a speck of dust I will keel over and expire thank you very much. I think they somehow think it makes them more interesting. Then when you are about to serve the offending item to others, all of a sudden it’s ‘Oh, well, I can have that really – I’ll just take a pill” or “Oh, it’s my wife (husband) – she thinks I shouldn’t have that, but I eat it anyway”. This is after you have spent many hours organizing and researching special meals/menus to suit the person with the allergy.
For those with severe allergies and things like celiac disease, this scenario doesn’t exist, but unfortunately it is all too common and causes huge irritation and frustration on our part. When we meet people who have real problems with certain foods it is understandable that we might question it just a teeny tiny bit until we understand the severity of the illness.
I am part of a group on Facebook for chefs. The current huge gripe is people on fad diets – sending their preferences ahead of arrival and specifying what they won’t eat. They then proceed to eat and drink anything and everything that is not on the diet. We have had the same thing happen over the years with all the diets you can think of. I once even had a hardcore vegetarian from Michigan who flew all the way here with many wonderful and strange products in her bag that she intended to eat, cluttered up my fridge with them and then never touched. She did remain a vegetarian until the last evening when I was preparing ribs when she then calmly informed me that she would have one. Yes, I was incredulous.
This is what celiacs are up against!
That is what we are up against indeed.
Look…if you read this blog regularly (bless your heart!), you know my mantra is “you are what you eat”. I’m a firm believer that diet is the most important thing when it comes to our health, followed very closely by exercise.
And I am all for people giving up certain foods to try to be healthier. And I don’t mean the South Beach Diet or any of those other ridiculous money-making fad diets out there. I’m talking giving up real food items to improve your health.
But please…if you are not 100% committed to your food restrictions, think of the person behind the scenes who is working their tail off preparing your food as you requested (note I said “requested”, not “demanded”…hint, hint.)
Don’t be a pain in the ass if you don’t plan on honoring your requests. Respect their time. Respect their skills.
Chefs of the world…unite!