Allergic to Allergies

For my first ever blog post, I thought I would discuss something that really grinds my gears as a chef. Food allergies versus an intolerance to certain foods. Yes, I said grind my gears, and it will probably not be the last time I say it either. It seems that I cannot go a day without having to work around some sort of dietary restriction or allergy. Gluten, dairy, soy, peanut, onion/garlic, tomatoes, you name it, I’ve seen it. There is also the absurd as well, such as an allergy to sourdough bread, as well as the meat of mammals. Or I’m allergic to tomatoes but ketchup is fine. That’s right, mammals. I actually did some research, and it does exist. When I have a server come talk to me and say a guest has an aversion to garlic, a million questions pop up upstairs. Are they allergic? Can they have onions? Do they just not like garlic? Nine times out of ten they just don’t like it. However, it’s that ten percent as a chef I have to really worry about. Certain dishes are a lot more friendly to modifications because of allergies. Don’t order a bloomin’ onion if you are allergic to onions. I know that’s extreme, but there is a reason why ingredients are in dishes. Once you remove one or two ingredients, a dish takes on a whole new flavor and is generally not as good. If I’m working in an Italian restaurant and someone with an onion/garlic allergy comes in, they are better off walking back out the door and cooking at home. Not really, but you get my point. I may bitch and moan sometimes because I have to bend over backwards for someone’s dietary restrictions. On the other hand, if it’s a serious allergy, I completely understand and will do everything I can to ensure they have a safe and enjoyable dining experience. However, it’s gotten to the point now it’s hard to work around everyone’s restrictions. There are vegans, vegetarians, pescatarians, and celiacs, on top of the other million allergies that exist now. I don’t think Julia Child would know what to do with all these restrictions. Just be honest with your server. If you really just have an aversion to garlic or onions, we can work around it. Don’t use “I have a severe allergy to onions, but garlic is fine excuse.” That’s enough for today, I think I have rambled on too much anyway.