What ?\'s do you ask at restaurants

Posted on: Wed, 07/10/2002 - 11:15am
wood145's picture
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Joined: 09/10/2001 - 09:00

pWe will be travelling in a few weeks and will have to dine out quite a bit. I wanted to know what questions you ask when you speak to the manager. We've only taken Dylan to a few places since he was diagnosed 10 months ago and I'm never sure if I'm asking the "right" questions. So far no problems but I'd like to keep it that way!/p
pThanks, Karen/p

Posted on: Wed, 07/10/2002 - 9:38pm
LaurensMom's picture
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Joined: 05/23/2001 - 09:00

When we go out to eat we ask if the waitperson if they use PB, any nuts (though she is only PA, we do not let her near any nuts) or peanut oil in any products they make in the kitchen.
To stress our point, we have the Epi-pens right on the table, in their bright red "Medical Bag" from FAAN. We point to the bag and tell them we carry Epinepherine and that touching PB/nuts/nut oil and simply touching her dish is enough to trigger a potentially life threatening reaction.
Occasionally the chef comes out of the kitchen to talk to us. Waitstaff has also brought products out of the kitchen, without us asking, for us to read the labels. I think showing the Epi-pens makes a strong statement.
We prefer to not speak to the manager because *I* want to be the one who stresses the importance to the kitchen/waitstaff. Managers have not all gone through food safety/sanitation training...they are more the business side (usually). My concern is something being lost in the translation from their mouth to the kitchen staff.
DH is a chef and since he knows all too well the craziness in the kitchen during the lunch and dinner rushes, we always go out to eat "before the crowds". Though you cannot guarantee it, it is more likely they will take extra precautions when there isn't a rush.
Also, FYI, in some states you have the right to request to "inspect" the kitchen. I know in Massachusetts all you have to do is tell them you want to see the kitchen and they have to let you.
Enjoy your trip and stay safe.
Andrea

Posted on: Wed, 07/10/2002 - 10:55pm
AJSMAMA's picture
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Joined: 06/12/2002 - 09:00

I always ask what type of oil they use (don't let them say "vegetable"-ask what kind of vegetable?), my son generally orders grilled cheese so I ask about the bread. I typically avoid breaded items as I have read posts that say some places use peanut flour in their breading. If I see a lot of dessert items on the menu with nuts, I ask where they keep those and prepare them in relation to where my son's food is going to be prepared.
Have fun on your trip.

Posted on: Wed, 07/10/2002 - 11:43pm
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Joined: 05/28/2009 - 16:42

Has anyone else ever encountered this problem? When in a restaurant owned by people whose primary language is not English, have you wondered how much the person comprehends what you are trying to tell them? I say this because my husband works in a field in which many foreigners are employed. He finds that some people have a good grasp of the English language, but actually don't understand it nearly as well as they can speak it. Likewise, some people can't speak English well, yet their comprehension skills are top notch. Then there are the speak well English and comprehend well English and the speak-not-so good English and comprehend-not-so-good English. This is not meant as a slight to anyone in any way. It's just that sometimes I get the feeling that a handful of restaurant owners "don't get the feeling" of how deadly and dangerous a peanut allergy is. So when I hear something like we don't use peanuts or peanut oil after I've explained the situation, I feel like scratching my head because I don't know if they've truly understood why I've asked.

Posted on: Thu, 07/11/2002 - 3:07am
wood145's picture
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Joined: 09/10/2001 - 09:00

Thanks for the tips.
Andrea, that is such a good idea about the epi-pen, etc. I never like to say he has a life threatening allergy (because he's never had an anaphalactic reaction) but I think I will to get our point across and I really don't know that he won't have such a reaction.
AJsmama, I will specifically ask what type of vegetable oil is used. I didn't realize that there could be peanut oil in vegetable oil. We are going to Ocean City, Md which I have since heard is famous for it's peanut oil french fries. I do have 2 names of restaurants that we will be able to go to. But we are going to have to be really careful!
Ryan's Mom, that's a good question. I often wonder how much people who understand English get it, let's face it, alot of them don't. I have a friend who has been in the US just 1 year. She speaks english but does have some problems with understanding or finding the right word. She is wonderful though, will have me read the label on something to make sure she hasn't missed anything or will ask specifically can he have a certain food. I wish everyone were so careful! But to get back to your question. If I didn't they understood we probably wouldn't eat there.
Karen

Posted on: Thu, 07/11/2002 - 3:38am
Chicago's picture
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Joined: 04/21/2001 - 09:00

It does pay to ask them to double check. We have had two experiences where we asked, were told things were OK, and then the wait person hustled back to the table (after the food was delivered) and said "I asked the cook AND..." I now add a polite "Can you check - it is really important". I think is some places they are focused on fast and prompt service and give "guess" answers. And in some chains, mixes are supplied by the corpoate offices and the only way the staff knows what really is in them is to read the label.
At a deli the other day I asked about a wheat berry salad and if it had nuts, the counter person said no, gave me a "taster" container, turned away and then turned back and said "Oh, it does have walnuts, but it is the last ingredient listed." Well, fortunatly I am not allergic, but if dd had tasted there would have been trouble. It was nice she finally REALLY checked, but it reminded me how good intentioned people still may not get it.

Posted on: Thu, 07/11/2002 - 9:08am
anonymous's picture
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Joined: 05/28/2009 - 16:42

wood145,
I wonder if it is possible for you to get some names of some restaurants near where you are staying, and call ahead of time. It might be helpful to call around 3pm when it is usually slow, and you should be able to speak with the chef. Then when you arrive at the restaurant, you can identify yourself as the phone caller. This may be an easier and a more discreet way of handling things, and it will give the manager/chef some time to notify the wait staff and the kitchen staff. Also, it will give some time to let the information "sink in".
Anyway, just a thought.

Posted on: Thu, 07/11/2002 - 10:03am
wood145's picture
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Joined: 09/10/2001 - 09:00

Mitch's Mom, thanks thats a great idea. I'm trying to research as much as possible before we leave for Ocean City and I'll definately call first. I'd hate to get settled somewhere and then find out we have to leave and find another place to eat.
Karen

Posted on: Thu, 07/11/2002 - 3:24pm
Ann S's picture
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Joined: 12/04/2001 - 09:00

I also talk with the waitress and manager whenever possible and explain that my son has a life threatening allergy and we also make sure they see the epipen medicine kit. It has taken this extra step to make sure the waitstaff takes us seriously. Especially the waitress because she may be preparing/cutting that last dessert with nuts and hurrying to bring your meal as well. In addition, I carry florescent orange stickers that say "allergy alert" and fill in the allergies my son has on the lines provided. I bought a small supply of these from FAAN. I then give it to the waitress to affix to the order that goes directly to the chef. So, when that order goes in to the kitchen the cook will have no question that THIS is the order he/she needs to be cautious with. One restaurant we frequent even kept the sticker posted and had a special staff meeting about allergies!!
Be prepared and have fun!!

Posted on: Thu, 07/11/2002 - 8:38pm
LaurensMom's picture
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Joined: 05/23/2001 - 09:00

Anna,
Great idea about the stickers! I never thought of that.
Andrea

Posted on: Fri, 07/12/2002 - 10:41am
wood145's picture
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Joined: 09/10/2001 - 09:00

I love the sticker idea. I think I'll make some up. I emailed a bunch of restaurants and have gotten 2 responses so far. Both are peanut free but they did say to let the manager and waitress know about the allergy when we go, just to make sure no substitutions were made.
Karen

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