If you’re lactose-intolerant and off wheat this month, do you have any business being in a pizzeria? This is the question posed by Pizzaiolo, Boot and Shoe Service chef Charlie Hallowell and others in an SF Chronicle piece today about an epidemic of special-requesters invading our nation’s restaurants.
"We don’t rule over the kitchen with an iron fist," says Saison chef (and 2010 Chron Rising Star) Joshua Skenes. "[But] the other day, we had someone who didn’t eat shellfish, didn’t eat fish, didn’t eat dairy, didn’t eat lamb. And on the menu, we had shellfish, we had fish, we had lamb. And they also didn’t eat gluten or wheat. So that was pretty much impossible."
Chefs are generally more than happy to accommodate an allergy or two, but the Chron asserts that this is more of a Starbucks-customization-oriented, cultural trend. We blame the vegans, and overly mollycoddled Gen Yers who’ve grown up being allowed to call the shots too often at meal time. If you have a long list of restrictions and special needs, is it really every chef’s duty to bend over backwards to feed you? As Hallowell says, "If you’re going to a Buddhist monastery looking for enlightenment by Shiva, then you’re going to the wrong monastery."