Her response is what shocked me…
Way back in February when we were able to go out to restaurants and enjoy life, my family and I went to The Cheesecake Factory for dinner to celebrate my sister’s birthday. Now, I’ve been there before with my sensitivities already knowing what is safe to eat based off of past experiences and asking the staff previously, so I knew what to expect. Since I already knew the one meal that was safe for me to eat, because every time I’ve been there, I’ve asked and has always been able to get it, plus we were with a large group of people, I was hesitant to even bring up my sensitivities. But, I decided to do so anyways because you never know if anything has changed and you rather be safe than sorry.
Then came time to order our food and sitting around the table with 8 people, when it was my turn to order, I mentioned that I have food sensitivities and that I can’t have canola oil. Her response is what shocked me. She said, “we don’t use canola oil for anything, which I know for a fact from past experiences, that that is not true. For example, I know I can’t have the fries because there is canola oil in them and I’ve even seen the ingredients in person. Now, maybe, they don’t fry their food in canola oil, but I know that some foods already contain canola oil. I wasn’t happy with her answer. Her response lead me to believe that I could have anything on the menu, which I know is false. But, I was ready to order some chicken fingers and fries, knowing I can’t eat any of that.
I ordered what I normally get, the turkey club sandwich, knowing that it is safe anyways, but still brought up my sensitivities to double check and make sure that it is still safe for me eat, which isn’t what happened. Not at first anyways. She wrote down my order along with everyone elses and brought it back to the kitchen. I was sitting there all confused like I’m just gonna take the waitress’s word that there is no canola oil in anything and enjoy my meal? That doesn’t seem reliable to me. Those of us with food allergies, sensitivities, or intolerances, know what to expect and what usually happens while dining at a restaurant.
Usually when you tell the waiter/ess that you have food allergies or any other concerns, they write down what you need to avoid, in my case canola oil and soy lecithin, and may take your order and what you have in mind to eat and go back to talk to the manger or the chef to confirm the meal. Each restaurant has been a slightly different experience, but all quite similar. You usually talk the the manger, talk to the chef, or even the waiter/ess comes back to discuss meal options, look at ingredients with you, and see what is safe for you to consume. None of that happened that night.
What did happen though, is that after the waitress brought our order to the kitchen staff, she then came back to our table a few minutes later and re-confirmed my order double checking my sensitivities. She probably brought my order and sensitivities back to the chef and they were all confused and wanted her to go back and double check with me as she didn’t seem to care at all.
This experience was like no other and something new to me; not what I expected and thought would happen. The good news is that I did receive my order problem-free and she did eventually come back to double check and make sure it was safe, but that all should’ve happened in the first place. Not a, I don’t care about your sensitivities, we don’t use canola oil for anything, trust me, response. I wasn’t too concerned and too worried about it because of previous trips to the restaurant where I did have good experiences and already discovered what I could eat. I knew that meal was safe; I get it everytime we go there with no reactions, but it’s always good to double check and have good service about it. I will still go to The Cheesecake Factory and enjoy the one same meal I know I can have even after a not so great experience. After all, my night wasn’t ruined and I was still able to enjoy my food with family and friends celebrating my sister’s birthday.