Prepping for a Gluten Free Vacation

gluten free vacation

First, I’d like to apologize for the suckiness that has been my website for the past few weeks. I have literally been in technical hell trying to figure out why it’s been running so poorly. I’m frustrated and embarrassed that people have not been able to get on the site easily. Things seems to be better for the time being and believe me I’ll get it purring like a kitten soon enough. Thanks for hanging in there.

Ok…moving on. I’m going on vacation in two days. Yay me!! I’m not one to say things like this, but oh boy do Mrs. Dude and I deserve this one. What a friggin’ year.

Anyway, just like the past few years, we are renting a private villa down in the Caribbean that comes with a chef to cook all of our meals. Yeah…I know…poor me. This year, we are staying in a new house with a new chef so obviously there is going to be some trepidation on my part.

Has he heard of celiac? Will he know what gluten free even means? Will he be willing to work with me?

So a few weeks ago, I reached out to him directly via email. To break the ice, I thought I’d email him a rap song. It went like this.

celiac vacationHey yo dude.
You makin’ my food.
I eat gluten free.
Don’t want no attitude.
You see I got this thing.
It’s called celiac.
Gluten it be poison.
So here me out mac.
You gotta play it safe.
While I’m on vacation.
No wheat, barley or rye.
No cross-contamination.
Let’s have a great week.
Let’s do that drink and dine.
As long as I don’t get glutened.
Things will be just fine.

Totally kidding. Here’s how the conversation really went.

Dude: Hi. I will be vacationing at your villa the week of December 13, 2014. I’ve heard wonderful things about the house and the staff and to say I look forward to it would be a huge understatement. I am writing about my dietary needs for the week. I have severe celiac disease and require that all of my food be 100% gluten-free. In addition, I’ll need to be certain that I do not get sick from cross-contamination (cutting boards, toasters, utensils, etc.)

Please let me know your experience with cooking gluten-free (for celiacs, not the fad dieters…big difference). I’d me more than happy to help you and answer any questions you may have. Thank you in advance and again, if you have any questions, both now and during the week we are there, never hesitate to ask me. Better safe than sorry. Look forward to meeting you and the team.

(Dude note: Treat others how you want to be treated. Don’t be demanding and don’t be demeaning. You both want the same thing…a great week with awesome food. That is my approach and should be yours as well if you are ever in this situation.)

Chef: It’s a pleasure to meet you. Just a little background about myself: I own and operate a full-service catering operation in the US Virgin Islands, which includes not only banquets, but also private chef events. We are in our 11th season. About 80% of our menus are custom concepts and we are well-accustomed to making adjustments for guests’ food restrictions, even the fad dieters. My aunt has been aware that she has had Crohn’s Disease for about 13 years, which also limits or prohibits the intake of many common ingredients, so it will not at all be a problem to accommodate your Celiac condition.

I plan on bringing several food items with me that will help make it easier to provide a variety of tasty items for you and your group, including garbanzo/quinoa flours, gluten-free pasta, etc. I also plan on re-familiarizing myself with some of our standby recipes and researching some new ones that I hope to incorporate into your daily fare. My goal is not to have to cook two menus for every meal, but rather to make a singular memorable one that will appeal to the entire group, thus reducing the risk of cross-contamination.

(Dude note: Woot! He gets it!!)

Dude: Thanks tons for the great response. You have put my mind at ease. Well, for a celiac…my mind is never at ease when it comes to eating outside the home, but you know what I mean. Like I said, the past three years we’ve had chefs in private villas and they never had two menus either; just subtle adjustments to my meals where necessary.

If you have any questions for me…now or during our stay…never hesitate to ask.

See you in 9 days…not that I’m counting or anything.

(Dude note: A few days ago, I sent one more email just to check in.)

Dude: Hey there. Just checking in to see if you had any last minute questions for me about ingredients, preparation, etc. when it comes to my celiac. And please don’t be offended if I ask questions while I’m down there. My autoimmune disease is a gigantic pain in the butt and I just need to be extra careful.

Chef: No questions as of right now. I’m heading to the market tomorrow to get a good selection of gluten-free options like I mentioned the other day, so let me know if you have any specific requests and I will try to accommodate them. I won’t be offended at all if you need to double-check before eating. I actually prefer it to having you get a reaction by something I may have overseen.

The conversation could not have gone better.

I take off in 48 hours with my mind at ease.

Bon voyage everyone. I’ll be checking in from paradise.

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16 thoughts on “Prepping for a Gluten Free Vacation”

  1. That sounds pretty good to me. And the site is running fine from what I see.
    Have a great, relaxing time. You both really do deserve it!

  2. Enjoy your vacation Mr and Mrs Dude 🙂 Soak up some sunshine for me. It’s dreary here in Michigan. Good luck with the food 😉

  3. Oh wow, I have goosebumps. It’s so amazing when chefs not only take it seriously, but prefer us asking questions rather than getting sick from something they made.

  4. Good to see your chef seems to get it.

    His use of the phrase “even the fad dieters” caught my eye. Maybe I’m reading WAY too much into it, but that sounds like a bit of a sneer to that group — a sentiment that hasn’t been uncommon from various commenters on here from time to time — particularly since he quickly follows it up with comments about medically-related dietary restrictions in his own family.

    Almost as if to say, “I’ve prepared meals for some of the world’s whiniest crybabies who pick over this and that for no good reason… just because. Cooking for someone like you, on the other hand — who offers me a clear, consistent message on their needs — will be a most welcome and distinct pleasure.”

    Not that I’m criticising him for that or anything. lol

  5. Oh for cryin’ out loud, I’ve been worried that something bad had happened in your world as whenever
    I checked in, I got the same page – “Home”. Wasn’t checking “The Blog” :/

    Whew, I’m back. I’ve got some catching up to do but I’m glad to have caught you before you jet off into
    the sunset, literally! Have a grand time just being. You all certainly need to “fill the well”.

    It’s good to be “back” 🙂 (Some days I scare myself)

  6. What was your experience out in the islands?
    My husband wants to go somewhere for a vacation. For some reason, he’s tired of my knee-jerk response, “Disney!”.
    So far, they’re the only place that I feel comfortable going anywhere at any time and actually getting a safe meal.

    If you had a good experience, where was it?

  7. A friend of mine is dying and is planning a celebration of life before she passes on. I live at one end of the country and she at the other, plus her family is Italian and loves their pasta; I cannot likely cook there, it will be very busy.
    I am not much of a traveler so I am not really sure how to do this. Any suggestions on how to bring my own prepared foods will be greatly appreciated.

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Who I am. And who I'm not.

Who I am. And who I'm not.

I AM someone who's been gluten-free since 2007 due to a diagnosis of severe celiac disease. I'm someone who can steer you in the right direction when it comes to going gluten-free. And I'm someone who will always give you the naked truth about going gluten free.

I AM NOT someone who embraces this gluten-free craziness. I didn’t find freedom, a better life or any of that other crap when I got diagnosed. With all due respect to Hunter S. Thompson, I found fear and loathing of an unknown world. But if I can share my wisdom, tell my stories and make the transition easier on you, I’ve done my job.

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