Restaurant Fail… If they can’t make it Celiac Safe, they shouldn’t plate it


I’m fresh from returning for an overall great trip to Seattle.  Look for a sizable trip report soon.  Also: Trip Reports tag.  I did want to tell you a quick story about a bad experience that I had in hopes that you’ll learn from my misfortune.

The primary reason we went to the Seattle area was a family function.  We flew from the Midwest to Seattle.  The family function had an associated luncheon with it.  Great… that’s always fun for a Celiac [About Me].

I called the restaurant a few days in advance and spoke with the Chef.  He was polite and respectful.  I asked him if he knew what Celiac Disease was and he said… not really, could I tell him about it.  I explained it in general and let him know that I’m very sensitive to even small amounts of gluten.

After chatting, he told me he didn’t feel comfortable providing food to me.  Surprising, since this was an actual Chef at what appeared to be a well-rated and moderately expensive restaurant.  Nevertheless, I would have rather heard this vs sweet nothings combined with sickness from gluten.  He suggested that I bring my own food in and they would plate it.  Good solution.  I asked him if I should just ask for a plate and he said that he would prefer that I give them the food for plating.  Ok.

The morning of the event I drove 25 miles in the wrong direction to get a gluten free breakfast at a highly rated Seattle based dedicated gluten free restaurant.  It was delicious.  The restaurant also prepared and packed up a lunch for me.  Yay!  I have no doubts that the lunch I received was gluten free and Celiac safe.

Upon arriving at the luncheon, I spoke with staff to let them know I was there and went over plating my food.  They immediately knew who I was and what my situation was.  They expected to see me and seemed to have it under control.  The last thing I said before giving them my food was… that whoever touched my food needed to wash their hands and change their gloves prior to doing so.

Upon receiving the food (a panini and a cup of soup), I knew that the food had been warmed up.  My assumption was that this had been done in a microwave (wrong).  Within a couple hours, I became certain that I had been poisoned by gluten.  I would say it was a small amount of cross contamination.

I emailed the manager about this.  He was apologetic and confused at what happened.  He said that “kitchen staff had washed their hands multiple times” preparing my food.  Wait.. preparing my food?  I was already told that the restaurant didn’t have the capacity to safely prepare my food.  Their task was to… put it on a plate.  Yet, they felt the need to “play chef” and contaminate my food.  Note that he (rightly) never disputed the gluten free status of the food I brought.

This leads me to a new rule that I’ve made up for myself… If they can’t make it then they shouldn’t plate it.  If a restaurant staff isn’t trained to understand basic food safety, including cross contamination, then they can pretty easily botch anything up.  If you’re in a similar situation to me, I’d say skip the eating altogether. If for whatever reason you feel that they must plate your food then I would suggest that you talk directly with a Chef or cook and walk through every single step that the food will take.

Lesson Learned.

I had a good discussion with the management and asked them to commit to discussing this issue among their team.  They agreed.

AlsoGluten Free Dining Out Cards (English and Spanish Edition) – Review

Connect with Us!  FacebookTwitter | Pinterest | Google+RSS Feed | Email NewsletterSubmit a Tip

Recent Great Deals [more]:

Trip Report: Gluten Free in Siesta Key!


My family and I recently took a Spring Break Trip to Sarasota Florida and the Siesta Key Beach area.  I was very pleased with the gluten free options in the area.  Here’s a rundown of some of the highlights…

  1. Island Gluten Free Bakery – This dedicated gluten free bakery is filled with a couple things… 1. Extremely nice people and 2. Awesome gluten free baked goods.  Chatting with the folks here, I learned more about gluten free options in the area and I learned that they are great people.  We made this a daily stop before the beach for coffee and breakfast.  Everything I had here was good, but in particular, I would recommend the cinnamon rolls.  Everyone in my family including my gluten eating kids agreed that these were great and couldn’t tell that they were GF.  Island Gluten Free also has a pamphlet with gluten free options in the area that serve their products under the Stellar Gluten Free Label.  This place is a must-stop.
  2. Beckham’s on the Trail – The restaurant has a great gluten free menu and takes the issue of gluten seriously.  It’s my understanding that they have a separate gluten free prep areas and they do have dedicated fryers.  I had the deep free fish and it was amazing.  Really great place and Celiac friendly.
  3. Fresh Kitchen – This place is a dedicated gluten free restaurant.  You pick a bowl size and pick your bases, proteins and veggies.  My food was nutritious and straight up delicious.  For what you get, I also think it’s a great value.
  4. Carrabba’s on Stickney Point Road – Part of the Carrabba’s chain.  They offer a gluten free menu chain-wide.  I talked with the manager here about cross contamination and they seemed to understand the issue well.  They were friendly and the food was great.  I had the grilled salmon.  Our server was a delight.  She indicated that some of the cook’s here have been at this location for a long time and that it was one of the best Carrabba’s restaurants around.
  5. S’macks Burgers and Shakes – They offer a gluten free bun (Stellar from Island Bakery) and were very friendly.  If you are a celiac you need to talk with them a bit about your situation.  I had a good experience and the food was tasty.  It was nice to have a burger on a good gluten free bun.  Some frozen custard options are also gluten free, but you need to be careful on toppings and mix-ins.  I spoke with the manager and had a dish of vanilla from a machine they don’t use very often.
  6. Baja Boys Grill – This is a dedicated gluten free food truck serving fresh Mexican.  This is owned and operated by a celiac.  Really great food and nice people.  It was a little difficult to track the truck down.  I have a suspicion they are only open on Wednesdays at the Phillipi Farmer’s Market.  My only complaint is it would be nice to see them open more often.  Great food!
  7. Earth Origins Market – This is a chain of health food grocery stores that has a couple locations in Sarasota.  Great selection of gluten free food and reasonable prices

This was my first big trip after being diagnosed with Celiac Disease.  Sarasota and Siesta Key are great places to visit if you’re looking for a beach getaway.  I was very happy with the gluten free options.  I highlighted the ones I tried, but even more are available.  It was a great trip!

Got a trip report?  Let us know, we’d be happy to share!

Connect with Us!  FacebookTwitter | Pinterest | Google+RSS Feed | Email NewsletterSubmit a Tip

Recent Great Deals [more]: