Below are some tips for safely dining at restaurants. Follow these steps to ensure a safe and delicious dining experience
CALL AHEAD. Before heading to a restaurant, always call ahead and speak to a manager to find out how knowledgeable the staff is about preparing gluten-free food and if there are actually options on the menu for you or your child to eat. When you call, make sure the person you speak with notes on your reservation that you or your child requires a gluten-free meal.
SPEAK TO THE CHEF, WAITER/WAITRESS, AND MANAGER. When you arrive at the restaurant, you must be your own advocate. As soon as you arrive at the restaurant, immediately ask to speak to the manager. Remind them that you or your child requires a gluten-free meal. When your server comes to the table, be prepared to ask about several items on the menu. Ask to speak to the chef directly so that he/she can review the ingredients with you and let you know which options are safe. The chef is the person who is actually in the kitchen preparing the food, so speaking to this professional is the best way to ensure a safe meal.
BE PREPARED TO EDUCATE. The chef and restaurant staff mayor may not be well-versed in gluten-free food preparation. Here are key points to make sure they understand:
- You cannot eat wheat, rye or barley, or any derivatives of these ingredients.
- Any cross-contamination will make you or your child sick. To prevent cross-contamination, the kitchen must take the same precautions they take to prevent food poisoning, such as salmonella, by cleaning surfaces, utensils, pots, pans, etc. thoroughly.
- A little gluten in your food is NOT ok. Ask the chef to use clean pots and pans and not to allow your food to come into any contact with gluten- containing items.
HAVE A PLAN FOR ORDERING. Have several ideas for what you or your child would like to eat. You want a safe meal, so be open to suggestions.
DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK QUESTIONS. It’s imperative that you and your child feel safe. Ask as many questions as you need in order to feel comfortable.
SAY THANK YOU! A little bit of kindness goes a long way. Always be gracious and thank the manager, server, and chef.
IT’S OK TO LEAVE. If a chef cannot guarantee your food will be gluten-free, it’s ok to leave and go to a different restaurant.