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.