Trusting Restaurants
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Apr 2 2011

Trusting Restaurants

Have you heard about the chef out of Colorado that was bragging on Facebook this week about feeding his customers gluten despite their asking for gluten-free food?  Unfortunately this is not an April Fool’s joke and is true. 

It is one thing to inadvertently get cross contamination in your food when dining out, but to be intentionally poisoned?  The thought of this makes me sick.  Chef Damian Cardone blatantly bragged to his Facebook followers that when customers ordered gluten-free pasta, he fed them regular pasta and then claimed no one got sick.  You can read more about this debacle here, as the posts have since been removed from Facebook.

It would seem to me that this guy should be punished in some way, shape or form.  I would sincerely hope that he is not currently cooking meals for anyone, and if he is, that they don’t have to be gluten-free or allergen-free.  If this guy was willing to serve gluten to Celiacs, what is to say that he wouldn’t serve peanuts to someone with a life-threatening peanut allergy or serve food that he had dropped on the floor?  He clearly can’t be trusted. 

Having worked in several restaurants, I can understand that it can be frustrating when a customer makes special requests, however, the restaurant is a “service” industry.  Chefs, servers and greeters are there to make guests feel welcome and cater to their needs, not complain about them or take it upon themselves to completely disregard the request & serve them the very item they asked to not have.  If a chef or restaurant doesn’t want to deal with special requests or allergies, then clearly state so on the menu.  Will your business suffer?  Maybe.  I can assure you of one thing, the path that Chef Damian chose is not the way to go.  News like this travels fast and affects a lot of people.  In this day & age, social networking can make or break you. 

So, what can you do to stay safe when dining out?  As we all know, dining out can be risky.  There are certainly things you can do to minimize your risk, but that risk can’t be completely eliminated unless you dine at home.  Speak with the manager on duty and ask that they oversee the preparation of your meal from start to finish.   Ask about the precautionary measures that are taken to avoid cross contamination, such as separate pans, cleaning the grill or special plates.  When in doubt, always ask.  When you have a good experience make sure to thank the staff and tip accordingly.  I am extremely loyal to restaurants where I have a good experience. 

Article Written by:

Kimberly Bouldin is a gluten-free wife, runner & blogger with two children in Columbus, Ohio. After her celiac diagnosis in 2006, she has made it her mission to embrace an entirely new approach to nutrition in a gluten-free world, exploring options that run the gamut from "made from scratch" homemade bread to sampling and reviewing the gluten-free prepared foods that are continuously being introduced to the market. While navigating the waters of becoming gluten-free, Kim shares her experiences and passes along valuable product reviews in addition to helping other moms of celiac kids develop healthy menus that are kid-friendly and palatable. Kimberly is a valuable resource for those who are newly diagnosed, as well as for the more seasoned gluten-free veterans. Follow Kim on Twitter!

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Comments

  1. Joan says:

    Mr.Damian Cardone should be reported to the school which awarded him a cooking degree and have it rescinded for such dangerous behavior. It should be a reflection on the school’s reputation.

    • Joanna says:

      Joan,
      I am with you 100% Celiac disease is a real disease and it is very serious Mr. Damian Cardone if you read this you SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF YOURSELF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This is serious we need to find a way to fight back against this Cardone fellow! And get his degree revoked!

  2. cecilia says:

    But, it is very frustrating to ‘feel’ like you get great attention and assume you were fed a safe meal…tip accordingly, and then go home and get sick.

  3. Anne Steib says:

    How horrible and scary. I am sure if he was feeding gluten-filled pasta to people with celiac they would be feeling the effects and just of attributed it to something else, since they “trusted” they received gluten-free pasta at this restaurant. I hope the restaurant does something to win back the trust of their gluten-free patrons.

  4. Victor Dolcourt says:

    I fully agree with the two prior comments.
    Mr. Cardone certainly comes across as an uneducated and highly bigoted person. Although this story has been reported upon by lots of people who are justifiably angry (I’m definitely outraged), the true circumstances may be a bit different. Click here for a link to the local Glenwood Springs newspaper or copy-paste this link into your web browser http://www.postindependent.com/article/20110331/VALLEYNEWS/110339996/1083&ParentProfile=1074 . If you decide to not link to the newspaper, here is a brief response from the restaurant owner. You will get the picture: Gallicchio said Cardone only worked at Florindo’s as a waiter and was never involved in preparing food for customers, nor did Cardone have any ownership in the restaurant. “He never was the chef. I am the chef. He was a part-time waiter and never did any cooking,” Gallicchio said. He said customers with special diet needs usually call ahead, and he lets them know if he has gluten-free pasta on hand or offers them a vegetable side dish. Walk-in patrons who ask their server for a gluten-free meal would get the same response, he said.
    Clearly, Mr Cardone does not belong anywhere in the restaurant business. He has proved that he is not trustworthy even if he had never cooked for someone that needs to be gluten free.

  5. Bluestem says:

    Actually, I have been poisoned about five times in recent memory. It happens when the servers don’t check the plates they’re bringing to the table; when the people in the kitchen are (un)intentionally gluten-loading, or when there is overall lack of quality control of the published g-f menus. The manager’s all took little interest in my complaints and accounts of the poisonings. I’m not to be a patron ever again of these establishments (Jadon’s Deli, Pizzeria ONO, a local thai establishment). How glad I am that Noodles and other restaurants care as much as they do, as do most other restaurants I’ve identified. Why is there this resentment? It’s amazing how many food companies, cooking schools and restaurants do not respond to email inquiries about developing g-f products and menu items.

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