Stepping onto soapbox…

Okay, so there has been a lot of buzz lately around Chef (and I used the term lightly) Damian Cardone and the now infamous Facebook post he made.  I was not even going to comment because I felt it gave him the attention he was clearly looking for but I just could not sit this one out.  So here’s my two cents from a personal perspective… 

Having been diagnosed Celiac approaching 10 years now and also suffering from a severe shellfish allergy, I rely on the entire restaurant from servers to chef to help me navigate safely when dining out (which I do quite often).  To hear that someone would purposely go out of their way to cause harm is shocking.  While gluten will not kill me instantly – shellfish will.  I am actually hyper-allergic and one bite and it is Epi-Pen time and a gamble as to whether or not I’ll die.  Food allergies are a matter of life and death for many of us and for someone, particularly the one controlling the kitchen, to allegedly go out of their way to cause harm is mind boggling.

Believe me, I get the whole backlash against the gluten-free fad for those who are not Celiac or intolerant being somewhat hard to understand as a Celiac.  If I could eat whatever I wanted, believe me, I would be eating gluten like it was going out of style.  However if someone chooses not to eat something for whatever the reason, I totally respect that, and they should be able to do as they like.  Do I sometimes feel that when I request “gluten-free” that the server or chef might think it is a preference – absolutely – which is I always quantify it with “I am allergic” and “shellfish will kill me”.  It seems to help drive home that I am not just being a picky eater.

I can safely say in all my travels around the globe I have never had a serious allergy-related incident.  Have I been “glutened”?  Sure have (though very rarely and not in years) and I know we have all been there – nothing is 100% when out and about.  Have I had any issues with shellfish – not a one.  Will I ever let my conditions rule my life?  Not a chance in H-E-double hockey sticks.

Oh, and Mr. Cardone, if you knew what Celiac disease actually was you’d know that the results of the damage you caused do not necessarily manifest themselves instantly – but then again, why would you care?

To learn the full details on the Facebook post that ignited what Zagat Buzz now calls Gluten-Gate 2011 head-on over to their Web site or just Google the “chef’s” name.

…Okay, rant over.

2 responses on “Now Playing, When Chefs Attack.

  1. Ilise says:

    Thanks, Mike, for speaking for the GF community. Yes, we are at the mercy of the kitchen staff to serve our food as we ‘need’ to have it. In my case, too, with a shellfish allergy – it is a matter of life or death. As well, I am one of the many people with Celiac Disease that might be glutened and might never know until the endoscopy shows my intenstines are still damaged or a blood test still showing I am not absorbing nutrients. This man, and others out there like him, that do not understand what CD is, what our cure is and how grateful we are when people do ‘get it’ needs to be educated. As advocates to the GF community it is our ‘unwritten job’. After Mr Cardone’s earful from our community I hope he is, right now, beginning to get it. May he never serve another meal if he doesn’t.

  2. Heidi says:

    Hey Mike, thanks for sharing that. Similarly, the ‘chef” At Sfoglia on the UES made a disparaging comment about food allergics not being welcome in his restaurant. It was in one of those “Our Town” type of freebie newspapers. I forget which one.

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