In the olden days no one had allergies to food and if someone died of peanuts… well, then lesson learned, but today things are different. Celiac, lactose intolerant, vegetarian, pescatarian, diabetic, allergic to garlic… and the list goes on and on. The theory is simple: with highly processed foods, genetically modified meat, the use of antibiotics on animals and the lack of old school farming, our diet has dramatically changed. It is either a religious choice to avoid certain foods or the body’s way of rejecting them that has caused today a massive increase in food allergies.
We clearly see this growing trend in Cuca and the question is now how to handle it. Allergies in restaurants often fall under the category of guests being hard to please and get dealt the card of a simple salad. The question is: should the poor customers, who in most cases are already ashamed to inform their waiter, be punished further for their real inability to eat something? Do these unfortunate people with food restrictions deserve something delicious or are they just considered lucky enough to get anything at all?
The reality is that training an entire service and kitchen team to be knowledgeable about these dietary restrictions is a mammoth task. It is also true that preparing and organizing a kitchen so to eliminate any risk that a customer with an allergy consumes the very ingredients that will harm him/her, is an absolutely nightmare. But it is also true that we are in hospitality and that the effort made to make people happy is kind of what it’s all about. With this in mind, we have spent the last few months in Cuca not only re-organizing our preparation areas and developing delicious alternatives to all possible allergies, but going as far as to create entire Chef Tasting Menus that rival any other dish we have ever served.
The reception could not have been better and our efforts are greatly paying back. There is nothing like serving an exceptional meal to those often punished with rabbit food.