That’s what we’re becoming.

I was reading Pete Wells’s comment from the per se kitchen during the Keller-Achatz dinner that when sent to inquire as to food allergies, captains reported that the first 8 tables, of 16 I  believe, requested that the kitchen amend the menu for them in some way due to food allergies (I trust not simply preferences).  The ninth table was probably a deuce.  Pete didn’t expand on further requests.  One of the requests came from the editor of a prominent food magazine.

One of my dearest friends got angry with me for sending him an article noting that so-called MSG allergies have been thoroughly debunked.  He is insistent. What causes this irrational and senseless belief that our bodies react violently to any number of fruits and vegetables and livestock?

My favorite stories are from servers who tell of customers who claim to be allergic to dairy—so no milk, cream, or butter—and then order the cheese at the end of the meal.

People allergic to grapefruit?  Or sweet peppers?  Please.  Fennel?  Come on.

As Harold McGee writes in On Food and Cooking, an estimated 2% of the adult population have food allergies.  I ate a handful of hazel and brazil nuts at a Christmas party last year and my arm grew hives, my head swelled up and I looked like a boiled lobster.

Seeds and nuts are common sources of allergies and can be serious, of course.  Some people are allergic to gluten.  Another common allergy is to egg white.  And of course many have shellfish allergies.

When you have a food allergy it means that your body believes that something is attacking it and launches a response that results in everything from discomfort to shock.

But again, 2%.   All other "allergies," my guess is, stem from ignorance and fear and a generally food-neurotic culture.  I wonder if the French and Italians and Spanish, who tend to be so sensible about how and when to eat, report a similar incidence.  Any servers reading this?  I’d love to hear the best “I’m allergic to” story.

UPDATE: In comments, Anthony notes that people on statins shouldn't have grapefruit.  I'll give him that–my dad was on statins and had the grapefruit issue.  Another commenter notes it's possible to be lactose intolerant and still enjoy cheese; lactose intolerance isn't an allergy, though, and it's my understanding that it's usually kids who have milk allergies, though, as I'm sure is clear from my ranty little post, I'm no nutritionist.

ONE LAST THING: Many commenters are noting personal uncommon alergies (papaya, carrots)–if you do so, and know the actual substance with in the food causing the reaction, please note it.

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238 Wonderful responses to “A Nation of Culinary Sissies”

  • Michele Niesen

    Whoa! Like he said, a bunch of sissies—listen to yourselves! 90% of these posts are about your genetic predisposition to have an itchy butt over a seed or a nut or a papaya. Before all the nomenclature would you have had a disease? Too bad there isn’t a Big Pharm pill you can all pop, it would add just one more layer to the labyrinth. I get snortingly barfy over mussels. Um, so I don’t eat them.

    Okay, I’m a chef/owner and before that had been a server and then a caterer for years. Nowhere in that job description (nor take home salary) does it imply that I am a doctor. Nor a detective. I’ve had people ask me if there are sesame seeds in the Cassoulet for example, and I think that just lets you know in advance that you’ve got a tricky customer and little else. Sure, I thought an Asian twist would really jazz up the century old bean and sausage duck thing from France.

    It really freaks you out in the kitchen because you feel like some guy is out there playing Russian roulette by even going OUT to dinner. And now the liability is in your hands if he in fact discovers toNIGHT that he’s gonna have a seizure over a confit? Like the liquor liability, the greasetrap, the staff turnover, the price of food in general, the real estate snaffus and taxes weren’t enough. Now I’m your nurse? Bollocks. If YOU have an allergy then YOU need to know what YOU can’t eat. That’s why there’s a printed menu. Allergic to fish? Try the chicken and shut up. Chef’s choice tasting menu? Sorry for the infirm, but this is something you can’t indulge in. If you think your life won’t be the same without such an event then hire the chef privately, give him your list of demands, book the private venue, pay the price and enjoy. If you’re so “special”.

  • MessyONE

    Brava, Michele! That is exactly what people have been tiptoeing around for the entire thread.

    First round’s on me.

  • Elle Cee

    Ug.
    As someone who recently spent $2K and an entire day vomitting in a hospital emergency room because I tried to ‘suck it up’ and eat something which I didn’t completely vet, I have limited sympathy for the attitude of Michelle etc.

    I’m anaphylactic allergic to eggs, which means no mayo for me and I have to tell you I feel very little guilt asking the chef to sub some other tasty sauce for that little death spread before I order my sandwich.

  • MessyONE

    Elle – Let me quote…..

    “…entire day vomiting in a hospital emergency room because I tried to ‘suck it up’ and eat something which I didn’t completely vet….”

    I’m sorry, WHOSE fault was that? A restaurant is not your Mommy.

  • Michele Niesen

    indeed MessyOne. why are folks sooo unable to take a modicum of responsibility for their special need? if you’re hard of hearing, you don’t ask EVERYONE else to talk louder…you get a hearing aid. If you will die if you have a NUT or go to the hospital if you have mayo—learn how to COOK. And stay home.

    I don’t need your $30 that bad that I can take on the responsibility of an errant drop of peanut oil hitting some dude’s carpaccio because the Nortena music in the kitchen is too loud and my sous chef and his amigos working back there don’t know what food allergies are anyway. And they, like me, can’t imagine that going out to dinner is worth life or death.

    Accidents happen. And we’re just trying to keep it together and get the 50 plates out in a reasonable time when one guy wants a black and blue filet and one wants it well done but not butterflied. This aint a NASA launch, it’s a bunch of folk making your dinner for about $15 an hour. It’s a service and it’s a trade. At times it’s an art. But we all have to attend classes and know that the steamer has to be a certain temp and do the pork to 130. It’s hot as hell, your knees are peanut brittle, and the servers can be just as whiney as the customers. You aren’t the only customer Miss ovo lacto vegan who eats fish but will die from shellfish and nightshades. But if you’ll dig deeper into the topic of allergies, you’ll see that it is an autoimmune response and probably a backlash to all the enviro toxins out there from A. big Pharm and B. big Farm. And there’s your full circle Oprah moment. $20 says your grandma didn’t have no lactose intolerance.

    And I don’t know if you’ve ever been in the back of the house, but there aren’t a bunch of nuns back there. They are a rough tumble group of professionals, who have to be strong to make it through the night at all and do it again tomorrow, but we aint your babysitters.

  • Laura

    Michele Niesen-what’s the name of your restaurant? I’d like to avoid giving my $30 to a chef who thinks so little of the people that keep her in business.

    (BTW, I do know what the BOH is like…..been a restaurant chef for 20+ years. If you can’t handle the heat, it might be time to do something else.)

  • Paula

    For the record, Michele, my grandmother was lactose intolerant. She was born in the late 1800’s, way before big pharm. Italians have a propensity for lactose intolerance as well as a higher risk for ulcerative colitis which she also had. I have her to thank for my u.c.

    I think it would save a lot of people a lot of time and trouble if more of the prominent ingredients are listed on the menu. It would help me narrow down the short list of things I can order without having to ask the server questions. I prefer to have the information in front of me so I can make my own decision without bothering anyone and/or drawing attention to my restrictions. Not all dishes are self explanatory in regards to their components.

    What has worked very well for me is telling the server up front that I can’t have x,y,z and asking them which dishes they recommend based on that info. 98% of the time they are very helpful and happy to point me to things that are safe for me. If they are new, they might have to go and ask the chef if a sauce is loaded with chunks of garlic or something. I always wind up with something I enjoy. There are dishes I miss out on but that’s life with u.c.

  • The TriniGourmet

    As an addendum to my previous comment I suggest you reread the New York Times article you posted. Nowhere does it debunk MSG sensitivity. It states that in normal amounts MSG does not exhibit an adverse reaction in the vast majority of people. However, the article also states that MSG stimulates neurons, a fact that creates the symptoms of MSG sensitivity in the small groups of people who have pre existing conditions that make them susceptible. Indeed the same FDA report cited in the article, clearly explains that small demographic groups do exist who will react adversely to MSG and the same report advised that products be labelled accordingly. This suggestion was shot down because of food lobbyists, not because of a lack of evidence. I suggest you read the report yourself at http://vm.cfsan.fda.gov/~lrd/msg.html and then issue your friend an apology.

  • Michele Niesen

    To the person who doesn’t want to eat in my restaurant, no worries, I sold last year after a successful decade. And don’t misconstrue my sentiment. It’s not about “not caring about my clientele” I am one of the most caring if not empathetic purveyors, owner/operators out there…but I don’t need to prove any of this to anyone. My point is simply to alert folks who have a serious, life threatening allergy NOT to leave things to chance to kitchen staffs across America. That’s how much I care. I mean as careful as we all are and as heartfelt as I am about each and every dish…I am human, and so is my staff. The chances are in an accomplished small place where everything is made to order like it was in my place, we could think on the fly and leave out whatever you wanted, I can bust out a vegan dish from a Provencal menu if I have to, but most kitchens aren’t this way.

    Ever heard of Sysco? There’s a lot of can opening going on out there and a lot of “chefs” who are little else than steamer stewards. THESE are the places where asking for a list of ingredients isn’t feasible. All those premade soup stock mixes with their “hydrolyzed protein” is actually gluten.

    I think it’s pretty narrow to say “restaurants” as a blanket idea. I mean are we talking Thomas Keller or Red Lobster line cook? And I’m shocked that someone who claims to have been in the biz for twenty years would even think about arguing this as a point of care vs. non care. Where do you work? A nursing home?

    I’ll say it again, is your life threatening illness, allergy or aversion worth getting sick over just to go out to dinner? And the woman who says Italians are prone to lactose intolerance, yep. Overindulgence in any ingredient will make that thing turn on you. Sometimes it takes generations and can be imbedded in your genetic code. Is it an American thing to think that you are entitled to every last thing that everyone else is? Whilst still clinging to your “special’ status? I have an aunt with colitis. Nuts about rip her colon out but like an addict she can’t give them up. But I digress.

    The occasional request doesn’t bother most chefs…but if you knew how most people rewrite your menu each and every night because of their childish foot stomping behavior, you’re not even cooking anymore. You’re performing dinner impossible.

  • Patrick

    As a server I had a question if our fries were “made fresh” or not. Fortunately they were prepped in the back that morning and made to order. The guest thanked me and went on to explain how she’s allergic to “frozen fries”.

    I laughed to myself, and I can’t for the life of me think how the human body could react to the freezing process of produce. Maybe they add something? I have no idea.

    I have had several other requests, this one just seemed to be the most silly. With years of being a server, from fine dining to family casual, these “requests” have been steadily increasing.

  • Gina

    So Michele – We’re supposed to live in a bubble? Cook our own food (grind the grain to flour too?) and never eat out, never be a part of the social world and lock ourselves in a bubble? It is worth going out to dinner as we’re part of society. I’m not locking my husband and son away because they have food allergies. Stay at home, always, never go out. Not really realistic, is it? I agree that it is a crapshoot and only one time did I find a chef who didn’t want to accomidate. His restaurant is long since gone, I might add. Some come out and talk with us, some don’t. All but the one have been gracious.

    I’m absolutely stunned by your intolerance.

    People ask for accomidation not because they want to be a pain in the ass. We ask because maybe there IS something better on your menu to eat. Printed menus don’t list ingredients and chefs DO do oddball things like sesame seeds in the cassoulet. Would you rather people don’t ask and just find out the hard way?

    When we go out we call in advance – ask for menus and suggestions of what we should order. I’ll bend over backwards to honor the kitchen and not try to throw things out of whack. Talk to your front of the house – is the foot stomping coming from them or are the patrons really all that horrible?

    My family won’t be a imprisoned by allergies.

  • Eric

    I think a lot of people claim an allergy because it’s easier than explaining “I have non-histamine illness reaction to…”

    For example, my girlfriend cannot eat cheese. She used to be able to, so she doesn’t have an aversion to it. She doesn’t have a histamine reaction to it, but if there’s cheese in something, even if it’s not something she can taste, she will spend a good portion of the next hour worshipping the porcelain idol.

    When asked by a waiter or a caterer, though, she just says “I have a cheese allergy.” It’s easier.

  • Michele Niesen

    Oh Gina it sounds like you already live in a bubble. The allergies ARE running your life as you allow them to. Not being able to go out to dinner is imprisonment? Oy vey. Get a life. You can have a rich and diverse set of interests outside of restaurants. It sounds to me that it’s the old prohibition theory. You crave what you can’t have.

    Tell me, with all this calling before you go to dinner, and checking and researching menus and talking with the chef, and dissecting the ingredients to suss out what cook put the sesame in the cassoulet and “bending over backwards” to accommodate and “honor” the kitchen…this is FUN to you? You’re fighting for the right to do that? Why? Find something else to do with your time. Volunteer or something. It’s funny every time I work at the soup kitchen for Tgiving, not ONE of those homeless people have any special requests and nary an allergy, sensitivity nor intolerance in the bunch. I guess some folks just don’t have the luxury of picking apart the minutiae of their existence. Sounds like most folks could use two things: A nutritionist and a psychiatrist.

  • Shasta

    Just echoing some of the other comments with a mango allergy–it’s unfortunate, because I love mangoes, but last time I ate one, I ended up having to go on anti-inflammatory steroids. Also, like a couple of other people mentioned, I’ve always had very severe reactions to poison oak and poison ivy.

  • anita

    Michele, I’m so glad you’re not in the kitchen any more. With your attitude, you shouldn’t be.

  • Maura

    I agree with Michele’s essential point. The restaurant is not anyone’s mommy. We all have to take responsibility for what we eat and how we behave in a restaurant. If you’re lactose intolerant and don’t have or won’t take Lactaid, don’t eat ice cream.

    Most menus do list major ingredients. Study the menu. If you’re still not sure, ask. You don’t have to give the server an explanation. I doubt the server either needs or wants a description of what onions do to someone’s intestinal tract. It’s all in how we ask, not that we ask.

    There’s just so much restaurants can do. Even if they take major allergies likes nuts and gluten into account, it’s impossible for them to consider each and every unusual allergy out there.

    That said, I think that Gina is trying to take responsibility. It seems extreme to some, and I know that I’d be too lazy to go through all that. If I had severe, unusual or multiple allergies, I probably would stay home, or eat at just a few places that I knew were safe. But, obviously, eating out is important to her. Can’t fault her for that.

    I’ve had people ask me if there are sesame seeds in the Cassoulet for example, and I think that just lets you know in advance that you’ve got a tricky customer and little else. Sure, I thought an Asian twist would really jazz up the century old bean and sausage duck thing from France.

    OK, that made me laugh. A friend of mine once asked if there were nuts in the mashed potatoes someone brought to my house. I think in case, it was an automatic reaction.

  • Gina

    Hazelnut oil, walnut oil are now more commonplace than they once were. Things can show up in the oddest places. Nut oils and sesame seeds are big offenders. Peanuts and shellfish are far more obvious.

    We ask chefs and restaurants not to be offensive but only to protect ourselves. It isn’t a culinary criticism just self protection. And eating out is important. Not every night and not even once a week. But it is part of participation in the societal norm.

    And I volunteer – but not on days where it is popular like Thanksgiving; but on days where the homeless and the hungry are not remembered and not in most of our thoughts. Just on ordinary Tuesdays where otherwise many of those folks would be forgotten. I leave Thanksgiving for those who think they are being altruistic just one day a year and give themselves far too big a pat on the back.

  • William

    I am Vegan and many times I have to tell a waiter that I am allergic to dairy and chicken. there has been so many times I have asked someone if a dish contained chicken broth or butter and was lied to because a restaurant didnt want to lose a sale.

  • Joe

    I couldn’t agree more with McAuliflower’s statement here.
    “When one is paying for the service of having food prepared, one would assume that their food preference would be honored.

    Any business and not just the restaurant business should be there for their clients. What makes me return to a restaurant is service provided plus quality of food and if a certain food is going to make me ill, I will demand that I do not have it served to me.

    Anyone who suffers from food allergies do not need to use this as any excuse but know full well the consequence involved.

  • B.

    First off, to anyone who mentions that there aren’t food allergies amongst the homeless or the Rwandans, that’s because people without access to medical attention just, you know, die when they encounter that food, usually as a child in third-world countries. Admittedly, other people have raised good points about the allergy rate being influenced by the global food processing industry, but it remains, no one notices when some homeless guy dies after eating some peanut oil.

    On to my own experiences with food allergies, intolerances, and aversions.

    I’m luckily free of allergies. My father can’t have shellfish, but loves it. My mom catches him scratching an hour after sneaking some off my plate at a restaurant and gives him hell for it.

    I have two intolerances. I developed lactose intolerance after a nasty bout with a gastrointestinal flu in my early 20’s. My theory is that the bug killed off all the good bacteria in my gut, ending my ability to digest lactose. No one else in my family suffers, and my mom was so skeptical of such a thing that she made me get a breath test from the doctor. I’ve found that most cheese is okay, but too much fresh cheese like mozz or ricotta gives me cramps. Oddly enough a sip or two or milk is fine, but baked into a cake I’ll be limited to a private area for the remainder of the day. My theory on that one is that the lactose is suspended and diluted in the milk, but that the cake somehow binds it, making it available to putrefactive bacteria in the gut. The other thing with me is pears. I love pears, grew up on them, had a tree in the yard. In college, I moved into a house with a pear tree out back. In August, I started making pear pies, pear cobblers, pear sauce, pear anything. I had the poos for two weeks, not realizing the pears were the culprit. It dawned on me eventually, and research seems to point to high levels of sorbitol in pears’ sugar profiles. So just like you shouldn’t eat too much of that ‘diabetic’ candy, I can only eat a few bites of pear, lest I run to the restroom.

    As far as aversions, I have plenty. I dislike almost all tropical fruits, but I just would never order something like guava gelee on mango curd with passionfruit coulis. Blech. Raspberries are the same way. Anything else I’m fine with. The one sneaky one I have to watch out for is cilantro. For most of my life, I could take it or leave it, it wasn’t a strong flavor to me. But sometime in my 20’s, I started to notice this awful flavor in Mexican or Vietnamese foods I had previously enjoyed. I know it’s a genetic predisposition for it to taste like chewing on a pewter fork, but it’s odd that it happened to me so late.

    On those lines of genetics, however, I think it’s interesting that no one in my family thinks that any kind of greens are strong-smelling. Collards, broccoli, brussels sprouts are all pleasant and vegetabley smelling. Other people instantly turn up their noses at the scent of steaming greens. Perhaps my family is programmed to have a predilection for consuming such things?

    As far as picky people go, I work with many of them. One of them is vegan, ‘straight-edge’ (no caffeine or alcohol, including chocolate, coffee, and vanilla), soy-free, gluten-free, sugar/agave/maple-free, yeast-free, and doesn’t eat anything fermented or with a high sugar content, like peas or corn or carrots. I have never seen her actually eat, although she talks about baking banana bread. What with, I’ve no idea. Needless to say, she just doesn’t eat out.

  • christina k

    My sympathies on the brazil nut allergy. I’m weirdly allergic to poppyseed, as evidenced by my super embarrassing reaction at my in-laws’ before they were my in-laws that landed me in the hospital the day after Christmas three years ago. Never has posed a problem though when I go out to eat, and I carry an epi pen just in case. However, when I went to Paris earlier this year, my French friend wrote my allergy on a post-it and demanded that I show it to every server I encountered. I never did, and fared just fine (shhh…don’t tell).

  • Pablo Escolar

    It is really weird how much contempt people who don’t work in the restaurant industry have for folks who feign allergies to get what they want. I think the reason this happens is simple: The restaurant business asks for it.

    Most customers are pretty simple. They want what they ask for. Enough restaurants don’t really care if you don’t like the way something tastes, and will gladly tell you they removed the blah or tell vegetarian customers there is no chicken broth in that dish.

    As a result, customers learn to lie in return. Just as it is easier to lie to a customer about what is in a dish, it is simply easier for customers to feign allergies.

    Restaurants can solve this problem EASILY. Simply don’t accommodate. Sure it will ruffle the occasional feather. Yes, sometimes that means customers will leave. But long-term, these aren’t the customers you wanted anyways.

  • jim voorhies

    My wife is allergic to beef, pork, veal, lamb, fresh tuna and fresh salmon. We found this out after medical testing narrowed down the suspects. Her reactions, which increase in intensity with each exposure, require rapid (within the hour) visits to a hospital for injections of anti-histamine and steroids. It is life threatening for her. Her throat muscles swell and breathing becomes labored. Not all food allergies are sissy based.

  • MyLastBite

    I really enjoyed your piece and the comments too. Six months ago I was diagnosed with food allergies. Basically… throughout my life when I thought I had hay fever… it was most likely a food allergy. My sinuses get full of mucus and it can be miserable. The foods I was told to cut from my diet are: Garlic, Wheat, Tomato, Potato, Corn and Rice. I haven’t cut them out completely… especially GARLIC, but what I do now is plan ahead and take a ZyrtecD and just enjoy my food. I’m fine suffering a little bit because life is too short not to eat garlic!

  • lisa r

    My husband has the shellfish allergy, and scared me to death when we were dating and he got hit at a restaurant.

    Just an FYI – allergies (real ones, not just sensitivies or dislike or whatever) can occur at any age – you have start with a sensitivity, and if enough antibodies build up, have a true, anaphalactic reaction at some point. Much to my dismay, I’ve had 2 since menopause hit: walnuts and bananas. I had always been so proud that I could and would eat ANYTHING (except beets. Their flavor and my palate do not mix). Now, I have to be careful, avoid 90% of holiday cookies, and can’t have my beloved Cuban-style fried bananas.

  • Leila

    I think you’re forgetting a large group of people with dietary restrictions other than allergies, including being Kosher. Sometimes its simply easier to say you’re allergic than explain in detail.

  • Mary in Brooklyn

    I could always eat everything, until I turned 40 and bell peppers starting turning on me. Doc thought ulcer and a number of other things until I figured it out myself. At home I can peel (raw) a yellow or red bell pepper (greens are completely out of the question) and cook it or eat it raw and it’s OK, but they make me ill otherwise. Not an allergy so much as a digestion problem. Major problem. Now I think I’m having a problem with eggs that are not cooked to death. It’s sad, but at home I can cook to suit myself, when out I have to be careful. Chili peppers – no problem! Thank goodness!

  • Jered G.

    I’m part of the Lactose Intolerant bunch, admittedly not an allergy. But the amount of lactose (or dairy products) that I can consume while still avoiding discomfort is different from another person with lactose intolerance. It all boils down to control, I won’t eat a cream sauce or cream soup because I don’t know what kind or quantity of dairy was utilized in the product’s preparation. But I will eat a little cheese because I love it and I can control what kind of cheese I eat and in a quantity that will not cause me extreme discomfort.

  • Sharon Worster

    I spent Thanksgiving Eve in the ER in Thibodaux, LA after peeling a few pounds of merliton (chaytoe) squash! I have never eaten the stuff nor touched it previously and had no idea I was allergic to it. First my hands itched and began swelling, then I broke out in a rash from head to toe but when I started having trouble breathing I opted for an IV of solu-medrol. Not something I would prefer to ingest but much better than the alternative. You can bet your ass I won’t be dining on merliton in the future! Scary stuff.

  • April

    I recently threw a “Feast of the 7 Fishes” dinner party. I had a few friends tell me they wouldn’t make it, because of seafood allergies. I found out they simply don’t like seafood. They will not be invited back for dinner. If they had only told me the truth-I can handle the truth. We’re all grown-ups. Makes me wonder what else they’ve lied about.

  • Michael Natkin

    This is a very important topic. I just wrote this piece specifically targeted at restaurant workers (both front and back of house, and management) on how to deal with the deadly allergies that are out there.

  • Sarina

    I understand clearly the difference between an aversion and an allergy as I have severe nut allergies to peanuts and tree nuts. I am concerned that making personal judgements about whether someone has a real allergy or is just a picky eater/difficult customer puts people at risk. I know chefs are artists, however they are also in the service industry. As such, it is important to take the customer at their word and encourage all staff to do so.

    My husband posted on his blog about this issue just today. I hope those of you in the restaurant industry will read this. It just might save my life.

    http://www.herbivoracious.com/2009/02/understanding-deadly-food-allergies-this-post-could-save-a-life.html

    Thanks.

  • Isabel

    I have arthritis and swell up to a point where I can’t move my fingers and my bones hurt if I eat solanines, maybe not a “food allergy” but an unfortunate reaction. Also curl up in a fetal position body aches, cramps and splitting headache from orange juice…so, yeah I’m probably not gonna want that in my food. And while I may not “die” it sure as hell feels like it and not just because I’m a sissy, pretty friggin’ judgmental. I don’t know where they get 2% from, many people never go to the doctor to get checked, it’s pretty expensive.

  • Jackson Beane

    I’m allergic to onions, and I want to be a chef one day, weird, huh? Let’s say I eat a garnish whose main ingredient is onion, I get red, painful bumps on my upper arms. But that comes during a violent migraine, where my head throbs without ease for about 2 days. You know how small the onions are on a plain McDonald’s hamburger, that will just give me a migraine. I’ll even get a headache if onion were on my food and taken off. All weird, right? So besides my allergies, onions being my only food allergy…can I be a good chef if I can’t ingest onions in any form, including its sister versions. I don’t eat or handle pork, I can’t eat onions, I’m asthmatic (most kitchen crews are chain smokers), and I don’t drink alcohol. So help me guys, CAN I BE A CHEF ONE DAY???