Allergies have become a hotter issue in restaurants than at any time I can recall. While I have great sympathy for those that are allergic to food items, the abuse of the word by picky eaters has made it more and more difficult for those with legitimate allergies. Restaurants will bend over backwards for people who need to restrict what they eat. The unfortunately, picky eaters know this as well. This means that if they truly want to make sure an item doesn’t have a particular ingredient, they will often just say they are allergic. This is frustrating for restaurants and dangerous to those with bonafide allergies.
I once had a guest order a Bloody Mary. They told me that they were allergic to celery and to skip the celery salt on the rim. This was fine for the drink, but created a hurdle for their meal. After I went over the brunch specials, I inquired of this guest if her celery allergy was part of a bigger allergy. She doubled down and said, “no, just celery.”
I have done a fair amount of research on allergies and knew that there people who are allergic to celery. The problem with this is that celery is part of the mirepoix, a combination of vegetables used in half the menu. I grabbed a menu and the chef to go through all of the items on the menu that contain any stock or mirepoix.
After a few minutes, I returned to the table with my marked up menu to explain to the guest what items she needed to avoid on the menu. They impatiently informed me that they were ready to order. The guest in question ordered an item that had been marked off the menu by the chef as containing celery. I informed her of this and she replied, “I just don’t like celery salt on my Bloody Marys.”
So now my other tables were forced to wait while I had this pow wow with the chef. The chef had to step off the line to go through the entire menu and slow down the other tables orders. Most importantly, guests with legitimate allergies will be called into question by the chef. All so she could have a Bloody Mary without celery salt.
“Can I have my Bllody Mary without celery salt?” It’s a magical phrase and works every time.