Dear ELV,

Every time I dine out lately, it seems I find myself at a table with at least one person who has food issues or allergies. Sometimes they have so many questions about the menu, the poor waiter feels like they’re taking an oral examination on the food. My question is: Just who is the victim here: those with food/health issues or those of us forced to put up with them?


Celiac-free Celine

Dear CFC,

The problem is YOURS not theirs. Don’t you read the research? Practically the whole state of California, and most of the population of Auckland, New Zealand suffers from some form of food allergy or food-induced disease. Diabetes, lactose intolerance and anaphylactic shock are NOT TO BE TRIFLED WITH. Restaurants owe it to their customers to put a complete list of cooking ingredients and techniques beside each and every bit of food served, along with a disclaimer besides each dish like they do with drugs:

Warning: This product may be harmful to humans if swallowed. Possible side effects may include: nausea, flatulence, obesity, stomach ache, gas with oily spotting, irritability and droopy eyelids. Ingestion of  green chile cheeseburgers may cause difficulty with breathing and has been known to cause erections lasting more than four hours.

…AND employ a full-time nutritionist to advise everyone about what and why they should (or should not) order.

Tailoring its menu to the needs of every customer (from the most gluttonish omnivore to the boy in the bubble) is every restaurant’s sworn, legal duty. YOU COULD LOOK IT UP. Eating Las Vegas has neither the time or the temperament to put up with selfish, whiny diners like yourself. If you aren’t prepared to accommodate the needs of your tablemates, no matter how small, you should stay home and cook your own meals.

Epinephrine-i-ly yours,


PS: We’ll let you know if we find those green chile cheeseburgers.

10 thoughts on “Ask ELV

  1. As someone who was diagnosed with gluten intolerance (Celiac Disease) 15 years ago, I can tell you that restaurants have come a long way. This is not to say that every restaurant handles allergies equal, but most are incredibly receptive.

    As for Ms. Celiac-free Celine above, perhaps she should consider how it feels to walk in our shoes. I can tell you from personal experience that its no fun when a waiter makes an erro (or the kitchen makes an error) and we have to deal with the consequences. You may enjoy having stomach flu, madam, but I most assuredly do not.

    Having said that, if a Celiac is EXTREMELY sensitive, they need to address their concerns with a manager and should do so away from the table. If I am dining in a large group, I usually ask to speak with the manager or chef directly so as to not monopolize the waiter’s time. Lord knows its tough to deal with 8-10 people and a few extra tables. I speak from experience.

    FYI, I am also someone who tips generously when a restaurant accomodates my needs, which is, I am happy to say, common in LV. I understand the extra work involved to look after my needs and I am most appreciative when I receive stellar food and service.

    Food for thought…

  2. JC,
    I have never seen on Iron Chef anyone ask the judges if they have any food allergy/problems. Do you get asked this off camera, or do they assume you are all perfect?

  3. This is a growing concern and people who are not aware (ignorant) may feel this is unfare. Everyone has some sort of health concern or WILL at some point because we are humans and not SUPER FOOD PEOPLE that you can eat anything and not have a reaction.

    Restaurants are catering for new/current clients needs as dinners have more options here in LV.

    I agree with JC, people like you should stay at home.

  4. You know, I used to feel the same was as Celine.
    Until last year, I found myself sitting with a table of 8 ladies of which one was a vegetarian and we were doing a tasting menu.

    Little did I know, her food problems became my stomach blessing because the chef brought out enough vegetarian items along our non-veg items so we could TASTE how BEAUTIFUL their creations could be.

    I’m now thankful for the variations and welcome them with open arms – as long as I get to taste too!

  5. I only ask that because the commentors are taking serious to this issue, and I was like “ELV thinking kind heartedly for folks with food allergies, NO WAY”

    Especially when the disclaimer was added and the bash on California.

  6. I appreciated the humor and the light hearted response. However, I do think chefs owe it to their customers to be able to answer if their food could harm their customers. Is it an insane proposition to ask “Hey Chef, does the swordfish entree contain any wheat, barley or rye? I want to eat it, but I dont want to become ill.”

    Or is that too invasive?

    BTW, just had dinner at Lakeside Grill last night. They have a gluten free menu, a dairy free menu, a nut free menu, a shellfish menu and a peanut free menu. I spoke with the chef for a few minutes, he said it was no problem for them to do that. If you know what you put in your food items, its not difficult. So the question begs, do some chefs really know what is in the menu items they offer?

  7. It happens a lot in the US but not elsewhere I travel, that nuts are added as a garnish on salads and desserts without being listed on the menu.

    I now rarely order salad or dessert when in the US.

    The problem for those of us with allergies of the deadly variety is that people with (often it seems imaginary) intolerances have made questioning menu items an eye roll event not to be taken seriously.

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