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In response to Raymond Blanc on allergic diners

I’ve just read the recent article in the Daily Mail about Raymond’s Blanc’s issues with food allergic and intolerant diners.

Salted Beef salad with cabbage, gherkins and cournichons #freefreemTop14allergens
Salted Beef salad with cabbage, gherkins and cournichons from Brasserie Blanc

I have always loved Raymond, not least because his rather more affordable Braserie Blanc restaurant has an allergen menu which I can order from safely. You can read about Brasserie Blanc with allergies here.

So I was a little disappointed to read “We are a kitchen, not a hospital’: Raymond Blanc roasts customers who have ‘fashionable’ food allergies after 50 diners a night at his restaurant say they have an issue”

Here is my response to some of the statements…

  1. We are a kitchen, not a hospital – I am well aware of that. Thanks for pointing it out though
  2. From a gluten intolerance to a garlic or tomato allergy, more and more people are making a fuss about what they can and cannot eat – Well there’s sympathy for you. More and more people have food allergies and intolerances, the world is changing. Either you cater for us or you don’t. You are quite at liberty to tell us allergic diners that there is nothing suitable. We shall go elsewhere. Well I will anyway. And I NEVER make a fuss. I try to order the easiest, simplest dish possible to make as little fuss as possible. And what would you do if all those 50 diners a night started to go elsewhere because they didn’t feel welcome? I do get how frustrating it must be for a chef when you take extra care to make a dish dairy free only to have that guest order a dairy containing dessert. I get that. But surely not all guests are like that? It is a growing trend whether you like it or not but this doesn’t really help with educating people about the language we should be using to explain allergies and intolerances.
  3. The ‘fashionable’ obsession with having a food intolerance – I would give anything not to be like this. Anything in the world. I wouldn’t call it fashionable nor an obsession, more a curse. But thanks for the sympathy. I think you actually mean people who don’t have a food intolerance, because it can cause very real and painful symptoms for people who DO. Not everyone asking for freefrom meals is making it up or ‘choosing’ to avoid certain foods.
  4. 50 customers claim to have issues every night – I don’t ‘claim to have issues’ Raymond, I DO have issues. I take great issue with the confusing language in this article and the attitude that seems to lump allergies, intolerances and lifestyle choices into the same category of ‘diners with issues’ because we are NOT the same.
  5. We take each of them seriously – Thank you. I am glad to hear that. For a minute I was beginning to feel most unwelcome. What I can assure you is that most of us with very serious allergies don’t eat out often and when we do we choose something very simple like steak and chips. I would never expect any chef to go out of their way to create a culinary delight for me. I just want to be with my friends and order a safe meal. Sadly this is the only positive and encouraging statement in the whole article.
  6. If you don’t have an allergy, you’re nobody – I’m kind of speechless about this statement. Do you really think we’re enjoying this? Your comments may be aimed at people who choose to go vegan or eat gluten free as a lifestyle choice but some of us don’t have a choice. Some of us would LOVE to be nobody.
    I dream about being nobody.

But don’t worry Raymond, I can’t afford to eat at ‘Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons’ so I’ll leave you to cater for all those annoying fashionable somebodies with their obsessions with food intolerance and allergies. I wouldn’t want to tip the scales to 51 fussy diners!

Food intolerance, whilst less serious and not life threatening can be unpleasant and very painful to live with.

I am saddened to hear a very popular celebrity chef use their public privilege to contribute to an article like this.

I will finish by saying that I am well aware that the Daily FMail online is not known for being accurate and often goes for that sensational headline, taking any comments out of context. It would not come as a surprise to hear that some of the views expressed here were not Raymond’s own.

When Raymond uses the words allergy and intolerance in the same sentence I’m pretty sure he is very well aware of the differences but articles like this only serve to make life for those of us with real allergies; severe, life threatening conditions feel misunderstood, alienated and actually, pretty scared of eating out.

It’s no wonder people don’t understand the difference. It is heartening to see that they do actually explain the difference at the end of the article but reading this left me feeling very angry.

And I am aware that I’m jumping to conclusions about Raymond Blanc’s opinions so Raymond, if you’re reading this, do feel free to clarify any of the above.

You can read the article online here: “We are a kitchen, not a hospital’: Raymond Blanc roasts customers who have ‘fashionable’ food allergies after 50 diners a night at his restaurant say they have an issue”

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