Since Pedro, our CEO was diagnosed with Celiac Disease in 2003, he has had to get used to dinning out with a gluten intolerance. Learn how he manages the limited selection:
My mission aside from celebrating life with a great gluten-free beer and doing good things for the planet is to instruct every restaurant server I ever meet about the meaning of life –a gluten-free life that is. Before I get going on with my tirade, I have to say that more and more servers are aware of gluten intolerance and allergies and really work hard to make sure that their customers are fed properly. Caveat out of the way. The majority of servers do not truly understand the havoc that gluten can cause on a person who is intolerant or allergenic to gluten. I guess for selfish reasons I want my dining out experience to be fun, nourishing, and healthy. Not a lot to ask considering I’m paying just like everybody else.
It’s sad to say that many dining out experiences begin with a protracted and guarded process trying to figure out what to eat. First, I have to gauge the restaurant’s knowledge of the gluten free diet. Here are my steps:
- I begin with a simple question: I am gluten free…do you have a gluten free menu? I ask for the menu not because I expect them to have one but because I am trying to educate the server about the possibilities and as a way to introduce the subject. By the way I rarely get treated to a GF menu or dishes that are designated GF on a conventional menu. So I move on most of the times to …
- Do you have any gluten free dishes? A server staring into space is never a good thing.
- My next step in the process is most likely to instruct them about gluten (you know the routine) and to inquire about the details of the menu. I can make it easy on myself and the server and order a salad (with no croutons) and with olive oil and balsamic vinegar on the side or I can dig deep into the details of their offerings to find a dish that fits.
- Since my goal is education I press on most of the time – I study the menu and quiz the server until we together reach agreement on a safe dish to order. By keeping the server engaged in the process I am able to educate them about which dishes are safe in their menu and so future gluten-free customers can have a better experience.
- Finally I get to enjoy the dining experience.
Someday, us gluten-free educators will consistently walk into a restaurant and find gluten-free knowledgeable servers and clearly labeled menus. That day will come soon!
Until then lets educate the servers.
The best experience I have had is when I was brave enough to contact the restaurant owners ahead of time (The Dickens in Longmont). We were greeted as the gluten free crowd and one of the owners checked in on us all night long.
Along these lines, I feel really safe when the waiter/manager/chef tells me ahead of time things like “the fryer could be cross contaminated.” I’d actually NEVER thought about that, but surely got sick as a result, until a waiter told me that!