I fully admit it: I can be a bit of a food snob. On top of that I tend to eat in more expensive restaurants. And to add a justification to my admission: the pricier the resto, the less likely I will get sick. So really, it’s a self-preserving measure of sorts. Really.
Why might this be you're wondering? At a more upscale and expensive the resto, the chef makes everything. From scratch. Very often the chef creates the recipe. Hence the reason he/she is The Chef.
I find the reverse is often also true: the farther down the line you go in money and scale, the less likely the chef, the cook, or the server [the thief or her lover] will know EXACTLY what it is in each and every dish because they haven’t made it.
For example, I rarely eat desserts out at my local Greek diner. Aside from the jello, usually everything is bought elsewhere, whether from Veniero’s or a dessert depot. Your server will have no clue what’s inside a Coconut cream Pie other than coconut and cream. And truly, it’s not fair to expect them to know what is inside what they didn’t make.
However, at a place like Mas the chef actually REVELLED in my allergies and limitations. Now this is certainly not the norm but boy it should be.
I went to Mas with my family [also foodies who like going to the newest hot spots, especially my mother] when they opened in Spring 2004. At that time I was a lacto-ovo veggie on top of all of my sensitivities and allergies [but not yet dairy-free or sugar-free or gluten-free which are a whole OTHER set of challenges]. I was a dining challenge to say the least.
Once I explained my situation to our lovely server, she returned from the kitchen bearing super-duper news: “The chef will be happy to accommodate you; he loves a challenge.”
From that moment on, I was in love. That kind of attitude made me feel not only instantly welcomed but cared for; a recipe for a great chef/patron relationship and dining experience. The server came out a few times to check my possible allergy to an herb or a spice and the love affair was cemented. I was served the Chef’s special Allergic Girl three-course meal including dessert, which I rarely eat outside of the home, that was so delicious I ate every scrap.
Sadly, I haven’t been back since: some love affairs are really one-nighters and I’ve had many with not one regret.