Food Allergy Counseling

Food Allergy Counseling
Sloane Miller, Food Allergy Counselor (Picture © Noel Malcolm 2013)

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Little Giant, NYC

*AS OF 2012 CLOSED*

A couple of weeks back I was invited to attend a cooking event/fund raiser for the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University. You can read about that event, see some pictures and get the recipes at MyAllergyNetwork.com.

Whilst there I sat next to the lovely, recently celiac disease diagnosed Sanae. She mentioned that she ate at Little Giant all the time and they were very careful with special needs. She also mentioned that she was friendly with the owner/chef Tasha. I said let’s go!

The night of our sojourn, massive snow was predicted [it turned into rain] and one hour before dinner was the first time I looked closely at the Little Giant menu online. Nuts, nuts everywhere: hazelnuts, pistachio, pine nuts. Oy, oy, oy! Everywhere. How was this going to work? Why did I wait until the last minute to look? Sigh. I almost backed out.

But I didn’t.

I spoke with Sanae who told me she had spoken to the chef again that afternoon and had emailed her my list of allergies and intolerances. That made me feel better. And going to diner with someone as kind and as understanding as Sanae, who has celiac disease, helped.

Sanae is safe.

Finding a safe person with whom to dine is half the battle of dining out with special dietary needs. By "safe" I mean, someone non-judgmental; who gets that you will be talking extensively to the kitchen to get what you need; that you may indeed order everything on the side; or that you may punk out and not eat anything at all if you don’t feel comfortable. Also a plus when dining out with special needs is someone whom you can trust if you do feel ill; who understands either that you need to go home NOW or how to help you administer medication and then help you get home or to the hospital.

Enlist safe people to be in your camp, rooting for you and your health; someone who is understanding, calm, helpful: safe. As you may have already guessed I have many of those people in my life; I meet more every day. I feel incredibly lucky to have them and I encourage you to enlist those around you to eat safely with you!

Back to Little Giant. Our reservation was nice and early, 6:30pm, so there was plenty of time to go over The Allergic Girl list with the Chef. Go early, it helps to talk with management before they get too busy. Chef Tasha was kind enough to sit and chat for 20 minutes about the ingredients of each dish that might or might not be Allergic Girl friendly. Thank you Chef Tasha!

Little Giant makes everything in-house, so accommodating my allergies was relatively simple for Chef Tasha to do. When you are dealing with a restaurant and a chef that really cares both about their food and their customer’s special needs, it’s a great step in the right direction. This isn’t to say accidents don’t happen with orders and miscommunications of all sorts. They do. All the time. If you eat out you need to be prepared for that probability. Bring your allergy card, like the ones from SelectWisely.com and bring your charming self to that table. Tasha put my concerns at ease with her reassuring manner and an understanding of allergies and the cross contamination fears.

I choose the house-made sausages smothered with onions and a warm lentil salad. To start I had a plate of their house made pickles; I do love veggies in brine. Everything was delish, and completely Allergic Girl safe. I’m looking forward to returning in the New Year to try Little Giant's short ribs; braised meat holds a special place in my heart and my stomach.

Little Giant
85 Orchard Street
New York, NY 10002
t. 212.226.5047

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