So, what are you allergic to? Gluten, nuts, dairy, green vegetables? Oh, and is that the kind of allergy that puts you in a frothing heap on the floor in need of an EpiPen or the more flexible kind, which lets you have just a little bit of whatever you say you're allergic to - you know, if it looks especially delicious on your dining companion's plate.
Eater spoke to some of the city's most popular and prestigious restaurants to get their stories of customers with clearly made-up allergies - with the promise of absolute anonymity. Diners - the kitchen is on to you.
* The problem is when someone says they have an allergy, we shut down a whole station which can put every diner's meal back ten minutes. We clean knives, cutting boards, everything - I created an entirely new dessert that wasn't on the menu for someone with a wheat and dairy allergy, only to see them have a bite of someone else's brownie and ice cream. Thanks for that.
* People come in with the cards - it's like a paragraph of all the things that they are allergic to it's always a bit pretentious, like, I've printed out and laminated a special card. Like, really? This one said she was allergic to kiwi, pineapple, blueberry, vegetables that are green - really? - legumes, everything, it was totally out of control and in the end all she wanted was a cheeseburger. Seriously, why didn't you just go to Wendy's?
* I had someone in Dine Out give me a 12-point list of everything they were allergic to from green and red peppers to vinegar, corn and all grains - and they are booking a set menu dinner. Real smart.
* Lettuce is the strangest one, there's literally nothing in that.
* It's becoming more and more prevalent, everyone is allergic to gluten, nuts have shifted out of popularity as the thing to be allergic to, not so much now - gluten is through the roof. You gotta go with what's fashionable right? So you come into an Italian restaurant, a pasta restaurant with your fashionable gluten allergy and then get upset if we can't cater to you.
* Someone actually came in and claimed to be allergic to carbohydrates the other day - that has to be the vaguest allergy ever. I called them out on that and demanded they explain it to me. We ended up with them saying they just wanted to avoid 'gluten, potato and flour' . They were looking for a green salad - and spoiler - there are carbs in that too.
* It's for attention, people just do this but who knows what goes on in their minds. I reckon it's about something Dr Phil said.
* I had someone tell me they were allergic to hazelnuts, but - he could eat hazelnuts if they've been roasted, oh, and it depended on what size they were too. I told them we processed them to add texture to the salad, he said, oh - that's OK then, so I asked 'what about the hazelnut oil we used in the vinaigrette?' No problem. So - what exactly is your hazelnut allergy here? Is this an ego thing? About getting attention? It blows my mind, it's so dumb, sure he had everyone's attention - we were all talking about him!
* I'm always sceptical about garlic allergies because I think it's more about worrying over bad breath.
* Sometimes people ask to meet you for a consult so they can give you a shopping list of allergies that they apparently have. If that's true - fine, but it feels like half the world has decided that they are allergic to gluten and it's easier to say that rather than, 'oh, it makes me bloated'.
* It's when people go with a blanket statement rather than something specific that I know it's bogus. I mean, 'I'm allergic to spice'. No, you're not.
* At the point where the damn laminated card comes out you just have to say "What do you want to eat?"
* Oh you know what I hate? When they say "I can't eat dairy at all, I'm allergic - but I really want this with the cheese topping" so you say, well, yeah, that's dairy. "Oh - I can have a little bit - that's fine." Guess what - that is not an allergy. Pro-rated allergies are the worst.
* My craziest is 'I'm allergic to onions but only if I can see them. So, it's OK in a sauce, but if I see them I'm allergic to them.' Sure you are, pal.
*It's not about what they're allergic to, it's about what they don't like - it's mostly total baloney. Some people are just incredibly uneducated about what goes into their food, so they end up being incredibly picky - ten years ago hardly anyone had a gluten allergy.
I've got a few favourites: a garlic allergy, so I say that there is garlic in the stock and they say it's okay in the sauce. Then someone who's apparently allergic to just the white part of a green onion and a customer who tells me a story about being allergic to sulfites - but they're drinking wine when they tell me.