Dietary needs vs. Food Preference ?

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How do you handle guests that have been given 2 chances to let you know their dietary needs through emails? They show up to check in and THEN mention that they are gluten-free , dairy-free AND gluten-free ,  don't eat eggs or are vegetarians. I understand some b&b's have several choices for breakfast, but we don't. I'm feeling more like a short order cook anymore...lol.  We normally have between 10 - 20 guests so we do a breakfast casserole of some type, but lately it is getting a bit out of control with last minute needs and preferences.....where do you draw the line between the two? Thank you for your suggestions...

seashanty's picture
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I learned in a food safety/allergy course that some people can eat foods with eggs in them (like baked goods or even casseroles) but not scrambled / fried / poached (etc) eggs because the egg proteins that cause their reaction are killed when the food is baked at high temperature. They call it extensively heated egg. This can't be accomplished when cooking eggs on the stovetop. Not everyone can tolerate eggs in baked dishes, but many can. 

We've got a few people in my extended family with serious allergies and illnesses.  They bring their own food along wherever they go. Bit of a treat if they can actually 'eat out' but they would never expect a small inn or b&b or even us (family) to be able to guarantee their meals are free of whatever makes them sick.

Why oh why are guests expecting this? It's a huge responsibility and liability issue if you promise. I never could.  I had eight guest rooms, max occupancy was 21 people, I did breakfast alone from start to finish, and there was often one guest who was content with fruit, coffee and tea, sometimes hard boiled eggs, sometimes not, sometimes almond milk or rice dream, oatmeal or basic cereals I provided. I learned to keep a small, secret stash of the shelf stable almond breeze. If I knew ahead of time, I'd pick up some of whatever bread they ate - spelt for one. If I bought that, I asked that they take it with them because no one else liked it.  Best I could do and I did it with a smile (or grimace if they were really last minute with the info) 

 

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Nuts are full of protein.    You could also do oatmeal with almond/soy milk.

But if someone has a very limited diet, they are going to have limited choices.   You can't get around that.

Ice
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Fluten Glee . . . cracks me up every time I see it  cheeky

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TheBeachHouse's picture
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IN my pantry is a box of fruten glee oatmeal in three flavors.   I can make and serve that easily.   I also stock fruten glee granola.

For dairy or vegan people, we have English Muffins with peanut butter and jelly. And we always have fresh fruit. Every day.  

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Generic's picture
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Is your jelly certified vegan (and the peanut butter, too) or does it have sugar in it? Yup... some vegans won't eat refined white sugar unless they know that it's vegan.

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TheBeachHouse's picture
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No.  I actually bought some vegan granola and wondered what they put on it.  I guess I need almond milk or something.  Vegan is too difficult.  

gillumhouse's picture
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Vegan is not difficult in this house. I do fresh fruit. We usually have nuts on hand and always lots of fresh veggies. Coffee is here and tea. OJ is premium stuff. No sweat.

TheBeachHouse's picture
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gillumhouse wrote:

Vegan is not difficult in this house. I do fresh fruit. We usually have nuts on hand and always lots of fresh veggies. Coffee is here and tea. OJ is premium stuff. No sweat.

 

We always have fresh fruit.   Chopped nuts, coconut and raisins on the yogurt bar.   But don't they want some protein?

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That is the nuts (for the nuts).  I have yet to see a vegan that looked healthy. They are scrawny looking people. Actually, I look at it as THEIR problem. MY problem is to put food in front of them that has no face and no feet. Fruits, nuts, and veggies meet the requirements.

Generic's picture
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I make my own jam and purposefully never use honey and only use vegan certified jam, just so that I can be sure that it's fine.

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It's all part of being in the people business. Fickle. People don't read. People don't listen. People are distracted. People change their diets on a whim from moment to moment, they may have watched Dr Oz last night and decided to go Fruten Glee this morning.

I have to say if you have 10 to 20 guests at a breakfast then you would have to get this more than most. I would be serving everything separately, no casserole, there is no way a casserole would or could accommodate majority these days, not with all of this going on.

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Tom
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Joey Bloggs wrote:

It's all part of being in the people business.

Exactly. 

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I can easily accommodate vegetarians by leaving out the meat but I won't do vegan and if they say no gluten, no dairy, no eggs etc. I usually offer them a discount and a 10% off coupon for a local eatery.  Let someone else deal with them.  I can only do what I can do, I have learned that some people just need to eat elsewhere.  If you phrase it nicely people seem to be OK with it. 

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We do the best we can on short notice. I do like the idea of adding to my confirmation that we need 72 hours' notice for any changes to dietary info given at time of reservation.

We state breakfast is cooks choice and yet we still just got a review saying the food was good but they wanted a choice. Give me strength! These folks saw us feed 17 guests for several days in a row, including the guest they sprung on us at the last minute. How the hell do they think we do this in a kitchen the size that we have with the staff we have???

Sorry, sidetrack.

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Generic's picture
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I always suggest having a lovely box of toaster waffles that are GF, Vegan (dairy free, egg free), nut free and likely taste free. They only counter-indication on the package is soy. Van's or Trader Joe's, Nature's Path or any other brand that does this. And voila... instant solution to 95% of the problems except those who decide that they are carb free (sorry, not an allergy!) or soy free (an allergy we openly admit we can't handle because everything has soy lecithin). - Be careful, some brands are not dairy and egg free.

But I would certainly put a warning on all your email correspondence that says: Please note that we need a minimum of 72 hours notice for all allergies and intolerances, otherwise breakfast is always chef's choice.

The GF waffles have instructions on how to prepare in a GF toaster or your oven. For Celiacs, you need a separate toaster for this kind of thing.

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Oh, I'm living that life right this very week and I'm about to quit.  Guest booked 4 nights, doesn't list any allergies but says at checkin that she's GF -- no notice for a four day stay.  When I ask if she's celiac, she says no, she's just eating that way.   Just awesome because I have 14 people to cook for tomorrow and now I have to do a GF waffle as well.   Worked that out and made some GF waffle mix in mason jars that I'll have for the next couple weeks with many GF coming.

Next guests check in (again no notes) and she says that she does not eat egg dishes, but is fine if they are hidden in pancakes, waffles, etc.  I was making the waffles for the GF lady, so this worked out fine as everyone got waffles and nothing looked different.  However, today I was doing an egg dish that was good for the GF lady, but the "NO EGG" lady wouldn't eat it.  So I did something I've never done before as I was tired and wasn't doing two different dishes today.  I pulled out a waffle that I froze yesterday which is what I do with the extra batter for my son.  I let it begin to thaw, then put it in the waffle iron for a couple minutes and it was perfect!  I didn't feel bad giving her the same thing this morning like I thought I would.  (I did make some caramelized pecans so it was different than the blueberry ones yesterday.)  It's her issue that she can't look at eggs, so I gave her something I knew she liked, and didn't have to do two meals.  I will certainly do that again and not feel bad as I have in the past for not making them something special.

But I have a guest who can't eat dairy coming for 5 nights and I'm sure I'll get some GF ones sprung on me and I'll have to make two different breakfasts this week.  I wish there was something other than waffles that I could whip out of the freezer for the surprise GF guests and bake.  But that would only work if they weren't the GF, no cheese or no dairy ones that surprise me as well.

Anyone got any ideas for baked egg dishes that could be done in ramekins, frozen and then reheated?   Would they reheat well?  I could make some with dairy and some with no dairy and that would solve the GF guests which is becoming the biggest problem at our place.  And only about 2% of them are celiacs with real issues, the rest are just choosing to eat that way.

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How about just scrambled eggs with some herbs and cream cheese.  This is my go-to for last minute GF eaters.  Also, this year I started making home-made yogurt and home-made granola to put out each day.  It has been a big hit and has allowed me to not feel guilty about limiting the number of variations I offer for breakfast when food fads become too much of an issue.  Today, in addition to the no-meat couple, we have a guy who can not eat fresh fruits or vegetables...at all.  And, he says, on top of that he is a picky eater.  He would not eat the home-grown sautéed tomatoes I served as a side.  But all of these guests loved the granola and yogurt! 

Tomorrow, there is another no-meat guest.  I'm going to point her to the yogurt for protein since we are having pancakes (no fruit in the one for the guy, no blueberries for another guest, and half of the guests will eat the bacon.)

Like you all, I am fed up to here with the food fads.  Short of telling people to stay someplace else, I don't know what we can do about it. angry

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You CAN say, "I am sorry, I cannot accomodate your dietary needs, so maybe should find some place else to stay.

 

happykeeper's picture
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We do not do quiche but I think it can be frozen individually and reheated with a good deal of success. Crust-less quiche is a popular alternative.

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Generic's picture
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Why do you feel guilty? She's eating a fad diet. Not your fault at all. Don't you have cereal, bread, etc. The egg-free lady will make due. Really. The world won't end, chicken-little. Just let her fend for herself. She won't go hungry.

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Reading this I just came to a realization -- like our inns we are all so different and various things bother some vs. others.  I won't do early check-ins because I need my time before they start getting all of me and especially during the summer when that time belongs to my kids.  I just won't answer the door, and a sign goes up saying be back at 3pm and they can get upset if they want but they're not getting in.  Recently someone gave up a family bike ride to accommodate a guest who rudely showed up 3 hours early and others have said that they would have done the same because we're in the hospitality field and they'd feel bad telling them to come back.

That same feeling of not wanting to say no to early check-ins for some of you is what is getting to me -- the food is my thing here, it's all me and I'm very proud of my food.  So I guess that I want every guest to have something awesome to start their day or it bothers me.  Now I'm not saying that they aren't driving me crazy, but it's my need to make their breakfast great that is the problem and their lack of notice.  But today I realized that there are times when I will not go out of my way to make you something special because you don't mind eating eggs, but you just don't like to see them.  The frozen waffles are fine and if they have them more than one day so be it.  And the GF peeps can just have scrambled eggs and GF toast along with the meat and I'll call that good.  I'll try talking myself into that one tonight!!!

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MtnKeeper wrote:

But today I realized that there are times when I will not go out of my way to make you something special because you don't mind eating eggs, but you just don't like to see them.  The frozen waffles are fine and if they have them more than one day so be it.  And the GF peeps can just have scrambled eggs and GF toast along with the meat and I'll call that good.  I'll try talking myself into that one tonight!!!

yes

You are not being a bad innkeeper for making those choices.  You go girl.

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05/22/2008

I agree. It is not your fault and i repeat for the 50th time. You are not a restaurant! You are not a dietitian! 

I am so glad we have closed now as all of this crap would send me through the roof!! And for sure I wouldn't deal with it all. If you don't like what I serve, then don't eat or bring your own. I will only go so far to provide.

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If you read some of our past threads  you see we discuss this over and over. You are not a restaurant. Breakfast is complimentary at a B & B. If you cannot or prefer not to cater to all the PITA's with dietary needs, just tell them. 

Our breakfasts are planned. If we know in advance we try to accommodate special dietary needs  ( and I mean medical reasons...not just their whim of the moment). If they don't tell you until it's too late..too bad for them. You have coffee, tea, juice, cereal and fruit. Help yourself!

Make it clear on your website that you only can accommodate special medical dietary needs, or people will need to bring their own food with them...something like that..and also in your confirmation letter.

We NEVER promise anything we can't deliver and if I can't get to a store for gluten free or vegan stuff. They aren't getting any.

Here's a sample:

We vary our menu daily. Your breakfast will feature fruit juice, seasonal fruit dishes, muffins or other breakfast pastry fresh from the oven, a main entree and breakfast meat. Of course a bottomless cup of coffee is also provided.

PLEASE NOTE: Breakfast is Always Cooks’ Choice.

Being a small country B & B, we do our best to provide a delicious breakfast for our guests. However sometimes, we are unable to handle very restrictive dietary needs – in that case, we have cereal, oatmeal, granola, fruit, and low fat or soy yogurt available. Please discuss your needs with us in advance, we will try our best if at all possible.

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Thank you very much Empty nest, appreciated your response

 

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