? re: chef\'s card

Posted on: Sat, 03/24/2007 - 3:57am
momll70's picture
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Wishing I could post anonymus. Will be deleting soon.

DH is telling me that it may be insulting to give a chef's card to an upper scale restaurant because it states thoroughly cleaning pans and utensils to prepare my food. He "thinks" that upper scale restaurants won't be mixing flavors. My thought is that upper & lower scale restaurants are all different. I feel some people may roll their eyes and some will welcome it. Very confused. I will still mention my allergies as I always do but feel funny now handing a card out. And I'm allergic to almost everything on the menu (not kidding). Shellfish, truffle oil, arugula/mesclin salad greens, swiss cheese and I'm PA & TNA.

How many people use a chef's card?

I know one person here does and mentioned that the chef's would like to see more people using them.

Thanks.

[This message has been edited by momll70 (edited March 24, 2007).]

Posted on: Sat, 03/24/2007 - 4:15am
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I can see your DH's point...we're talking a 4 diamond or 5-star 'each person with drinks, dinner, dessert will run you upwards of $150' type of place?
I would guess it would depend on how you address the issue with the server or manager...just handing them a card isn't good. I'd suggest telling the server you have a severe food allergy (or two) and would like to speak with the chef. Be humble. Ask nicely, don't demand. If it's busy or the chef can't come out of the kitchen to chat, then yes...talk with the manager about your allergy, that you 'are in constant worry' of cross-contamination and that you'd like to give the chef your allergy information (ala chef card) so that you can enjoy your beautifully prepared meal peacefully.
For these type of restaurants, you may want to have a better done-up chef card. Myself...I have it printed out from the computer and glued to bright pink card stock...cut out by hand, not laminated. For a 4-diamond/5-star place, I'd probably go to Kinko's and laminate it, cut the edges with a straight blade/ruler, etc. You could even change the wording a bit about cross-contamination so it doesn't come across as insulting.
Maybe something like, "Please be aware, I am sensitive to traces of xyz allergens and cross-contamination of food preparation surfaces, cooking surfaces and utensils, wiping towels, and hands are an area of concern."
You aren't specifically saying to "Use thoroughly cleaned/sanitized cooking sufaces and utensils and be sure to wash your hands before touching my food"
Not sure if you are comfortable with that, but you'd have to trust that the chef knows what cross-contamination is, and in a place like that, he/she very well should.
Usually, if I can't speak with the chef myself...I will task the manager with going into the kitchen, talking with the chef, and coming back out to specifically tell me if my menu choices are going to be ok.
I recently ate at a 4-diamond restaurant as part of a perk for doing star parties for the resort. It was an utterly fabulous experience! The chef was awesome, came out and talked with me, and he did take my chef card back in the kitchen with him AS A REMINDER and to alert his crew. He wasn't insulted in the least, and was more than happy to prepare a meal for me so that I could eat ANYTHING off the menu without concern. I took the 'humble me' approach...'it's so hard to eat out'...and it always gets the best response.
In these sort of restaurants, each meal is usually described as 'individually crafted' and they mean it! The head/sous chef prepares _everything_ with just minor help from his/her staff. Meticulous care for a meal...too bad it's just so darn expensive! The only reason I ate there was b/c it was comp'd.
Good luck!
Adrienne
------------------
30-something survivor of severe peanut/tree nut allergy

Posted on: Sat, 03/24/2007 - 4:31am
momll70's picture
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Thank you Adrienne! Hugs, hugs, hugs.
It is a very nice restaurant. We are going there tonight. I will explain my allergies and use your suggestions about how to express my concerns without insulting anyone.
I have to work on my chef's card so I can have it handy in my purse in case I need it.
Thanks again.

Posted on: Sat, 03/24/2007 - 9:06am
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oh, your welcome [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]
let us know how it turns out and the fabulous meal you ate!
Adrienne
------------------
30-something survivor of severe peanut/tree nut allergy

Posted on: Sun, 03/25/2007 - 4:07am
MarkiesMom's picture
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Joined: 02/23/2006 - 09:00

I currently attend culinary school, and I can't see why any chef would be insulted at receiving a chef card. A prerequisite before attending your first class is to receive serve-safe certification -- which focuses on cross-contamination and sanitation. Our school is presently holding a contest to develop allergy free entrees, desserts, appetizers, etc. Most of the time the chefs complain about the patrons who try to instruct them "how" to prepare an entree -- never, though, about an allergy. I certainly don't think it would hurt to remind them about using clean pans, utensils, etc.

Posted on: Sun, 03/25/2007 - 10:11am
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Hi and thank you for your responses. We went to dinner and I mentioned my allergies which the waiter wrote down. (he ran out of ink and told me to hold on because he wanted to make sure he got it all down.) I told him about my concern for cross-contamination and he told me that he will let the chef know and he will take care of everything. I told him what I wanted to order and he told me that it was a pretty basic dish and that it wouldn't be a problem at all.
I had filet minon (spelling?) and creamy yokon gold mashed potatoes and a nice glass of pinot noir. I'm usually not a big meat eater but trying to get more protein in my diet. And I really enjoyed my dinner.
After the show we went out for drinks and I also mentioned my concern for allergies and the waitress told me they don't use liquors like frangelico/ameretto (they do use gin) mostly gin and rum. I asked if they can use a clean shaker for me and she told me that was fine and I felt comfortable there too. I had a drink with tequila, yellow chartruse, thai basil and fresh lime juice. It was light and refreshing and I had no problems.
Thanks again.
[This message has been edited by momll70 (edited April 01, 2007).]

Posted on: Mon, 03/26/2007 - 2:39am
McCobbre's picture
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A coworker expressed . . . hmmm . . . incredulity (less than outrage, but it was something) when I suggested that I would never be able to eat off of grill in a restuaraunt (I'm shellfish allergic). He said that at better restaurants they'd never grill shellfish on the same surface where they grill steak.
I say, "Never say never, buddy."
Before having a child we used to go to fabulous restuarants. There are so many in Dallas to experience. And there is certainly individual attention. I guess I do feel more comfortable there than other places.
The last really nice restaurant we went to was a month after I had my first SF reaction, but I wasn't believing it was a reaction at that time. And I wouldn't have believed I was sesame allergic if you paid me to. It was just DH and me, and I remember telling him, "How nice it is not to have to ask about ingredients. I'm so glad I don't have the food allergy DS does."
I think that jinxed me.
We've taken DS to a nice French restaurant in Dallas (Watel's), and they were fabulous. We worked with the manager, and I'd talked with the owner before.
We don't have a card except for the one we use when in Mexico or family-owned Mexican restaruants here. But it's not taken back to the kitchen.
I think I might feel sheepish giving one to a top chef, but I'm sure I could get over that.

Posted on: Mon, 03/26/2007 - 3:07am
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Joined: 05/28/2009 - 16:42

I think crosscontamination is crosscontamination -- whether it is in the local diner or a 5 star restaurant. Also in high level cuisine there are lots of sauces and added things (Pesto, etc) that people don't realize have nuts.
I think they would be more concerned if you had a reaction and the paramedics had to come into the dining room!
------------------
mom to Ari(6) - severe nut allergies, asthma, you name it - and Maya (9), mild excema

Posted on: Tue, 03/27/2007 - 12:59pm
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Joined: 03/14/2007 - 09:00

My brother Mike, was a chef\owner of his own four star restaurant until he had to give it up due to Health concerns of his own.
When I spoke to him tonight I asked him about Chef cards and how he would "feel" about getting one. His answer was "We'd rather know about the allergy, none of us want anything bad to happen to anyone." His advice is Go, take and give the Chef's Card and above all ENJOY!
Hope that helps.

Posted on: Wed, 03/28/2007 - 12:22pm
momll70's picture
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Joined: 09/26/2006 - 09:00

Thanks everyone for your responses. It's good to hear from different people especially people who are in the culinary field. If I was a chef I would want to know. I think most do.
[This message has been edited by momll70 (edited April 01, 2007).]

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