You have cleaned out your cabinets and are all set with food allergy friendly recipes. Eating at home has become a safe zone. Now, what do you do when you are traveling? Restaurants can be an eating challenge for those with food allergies. On top of trying to figure out what exactly is in the food you are eating, you have to make sure that your food allergy restrictions are accurately communicated to the cook. One way to help ensure that the message gets through is to give your server a food allergy chef card. This simple card outlines your food allergy restrictions for the chef. Fill it out, laminate it, and keep it in your wallet. Just like an epinephrine injector, the chef card is a must carry for those with food allergies when eating out. Click the link below for a sample template
If you do not use a chef card, you must more heavily rely on your server to communicate your restrictions and needs to the kitchen. Some servers take pride in memorizing orders and do not even carry an order pad with them. In these situations, it may be necessary to ask your server to write down your order. This can be an awkward thing to do and your request may be met with resistance. One time when we asked a server to write down our food allergy order, the server assured us that she would remember and did not need to write it down. At this moment, I wished we had a chef card with us in order to avoid the upcoming confrontation. We proceeded to tell our server that we would feel much more comfortable if she would write it down to help the kitchen remember our requests as they are preparing the meal. We did not want to offend the server, but wanted to be firm in our request. Even a server that can remember orders, can make a mistake or worse yet the kitchen can make a mistake. Those simple mistakes can be life threatening to someone that is food allergic.
So, the answer to the question of "Do you ask your server to write down your order?" is "Yes!" Do you need to be concerned about their reaction to your request? Maybe. If your server makes you feel uncomfortable with your food allergy requests, you should consider leaving. It is not worth the risk to eat at a place where they do not take your food allergy restrictions seriously. Dealing with food allergies requires you to toughen up, stand up for your needs or your child's needs, and work through uncomfortable situations. Carrying a chef card with you, can help alleviate some of these awkward situations.
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