Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Meeting Planners-Managing the Food Allergic

As a professional in this business-filled world, eating out at a business function happens more often than not.
That means I have to check Everything before I eat Anything, especially if I'm dining with clients.

Getting sick as a gluten-free person is even more miserable during a business event.

Meeting planners and venues who truly get what that means are precious to me.

I use the same skills I implement when eating out at a restaurant.

I always practice due diligence to see if I can trust the Chef.

1. Ask for what I need, a gluten free meal, when I register for the conference.
2. I write/call/tweet/facebook and double check that the kitchen understands cross contamination, if possible before the conference.

You just know the kitchen gets it when the service staff understands what gluten-free and cross contamination means.

I make sure that whatever the system the kitchen has setup, I've got an understanding of what I need to do to keep safe.
I've had everything from a badge that lets the kitchen know I'm gluten free to an actual person who was my "runner".  That time, I was the speaker for the event, but wow did that make me feel safe eating.

But most of all, I smile and ask to see the floor manager whenever there is a problem.

I NEVER let food that has been cross contaminated leave the table, so as to not find a crouton in the bottom of my salad that had been whisked away to be “remade”.
Yes, that did happen when I was first gluten-free.
But occasionally the venue really gets it too.

I went to the Northwest Naturopathic Physicians Convention in the Hyatt in Vancouver BC that had one of those Dessert buffets where everything is gluten full - cakes, pastries, pies and puddings.
You know the kind, a pastry wonderland where EVERYTHING looked amazing but gluten-full.

My waiter asked if I wanted to go and enjoy something sweet. I looked him in the eye and asked if anything was gluten free, adding my typical list: no wheat, rye, barley or oats.
He said he didn’t think so, and I thanked him but said I was unable to eat gluten.

That’s all, just a moment of conversation without a lot of explanation about what was or was not gluten containing.
I've learned over time to keep it simple, and to include oats in my gluten containing list since most oats are gluten containing through cross contamination in the fields or processing.

Don’t you know, 10 minutes later, that wonderful waiter approached the table with a luscious fruit salad, complete with starfruit and kumquats, for me!

I hadn’t asked, but the kitchen made my day and made my table mates jealous. I will remember that ease and graciousness for a Long time.

Where do you think I might want to hold a meeting?

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