It’s one thing to be allergic to foods like peanuts, shellfish, gluten or lactose, but it’s another to say you’re allergic to something and really mean you just don’t like it. There are people violently allergic to certain foods who have to watch everything they eat, especially at restaurants. It seems at the very least disrespectful for anyone to pretend they have an allergy just to get attention like a child having a tantrum.
A secret group of Dutch chefs on Facebook claims there is an increasing number of people in their establishments who don’t have allergies but enjoy getting attention by going to a restaurant and only once they’ve ordered do they ask if the food has peanuts, shellfish, gluten or lactose in it. Then, later on they order and eat something they said they were allergic to, as if it didn’t make a difference. These patrons are giving the disgruntled chefs major headaches and so chefs have started swapping stories.
One chef tells of a painstakingly put together lactose and gluten-free wedding buffet for 65 people only to see the guests go to town on bitterballen and beer later on. “I should have asked for a doctor’s note”, the chef jokes. Of course a wedding party should have the food they want, but why lie about having allergies? They could have simply told the chef what not to prepare instead of coming across as either liars or ignorant.
Lying about having a food allergy is a lot of work for chefs from buying ingredients to properly cleaning the surfaces where food is prepared. Another chef reassures his colleagues by saying that people with allergies check with the restaurant beforehand, and usually not when they show up and order. That’s how you can tell these two groups apart.
One chef who, upon being told that someone was allergic to gluten, politely asked if they had celiac disease (in Dutch he asked with a term that omits the word ‘disease’), which is not the only form of gluten intolerance, but a serious and rare one. The answer he got was “sounds great, I’ll have some”, indicating the person probably fell in the ignorant category. At least that chef didn’t have to scrub down his kitchen.