server screwups

Waiter Arrested for Serving Fish to Customer With Deadly Seafood Allergy

Definitely not what he ordered. Photo: Ryzhkov/Getty Images

A server in Canada could pay for what appears to be a costly order snafu that almost took the life of a customer. An employee at a restaurant in Sherbrooke, Quebec, faces possible criminal prosecution — a big step up from the usual punishment of a bad tip and a manager’s reprimand — after allegedly giving Simon-Pierre Canuel raw salmon instead of the beef tartare he ordered. Canuel says he couldn’t see very well in the dim light, so he ate a bite by accident, then felt his throat close up. He didn’t have his EpiPen on him and ended up receiving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation until an ambulance transported him to the hospital, where he remained in a coma for two days before being released.

Police arrested the server after Canuel filed a criminal complaint. In it, Canuel claimed that “from the beginning” he informed the waiter that seafood was a real danger for him. He says he mentioned his allergies again when ordering the tartare, going as far as asking the server to make a note of it and advise kitchen staff. The employee allegedly did neither, and Canuel says part of the problem may have been the server’s interest in socializing with another table, where Canuel even reportedly observed him doing some shooters.

Canuel says he doesn’t want the man to go to prison, but admits a conviction would send a strong message “that allergies are serious.” He adds: “It’s easy to say, ‘Oh, I thought he ordered a salmon tartare.’ But what if I had died? My family would have to live with that.”

Waiter Arrested for Serving Fish to Allergic Customer