Life is predicted to get harder for some people with dietary requirements next year, according to a 2022 forecast published by Big Hospitality.
According to the industry publication, one big expectation for dining out in the new year is that top chefs will be more likely to refuse to cater to customers’ dietary issues – adopting what Grace Dent has referred to, in the case of Ynyshir chef-patron Gareth Ward, as ‘delicious pigheadedness’.
Big Hospitality has predicted that high-end dining will ‘go inflexible’, adding that ‘2022 may be the year that restaurants finally crack’ and stating more and more chefs are expected to follow the lead of the likes of Simon Martin at Mana, Manchester’s only Michelin-starred restaurant.
Here, menu adaptions are never made for a customer’s dislikes. What’s more, the creation of vegan menus is an absolute no-no as are any requests for lactose-free menus – as is plainly stated on Mana’s website, which customers are required to read ahead of making their booking.
The team requires guests to give its kitchen 48 hours’ notice for any allergies or intolerances they may have, including vegetarians, but when it comes to ingredients that people simply don’t want to eat, there is very little sympathy.
Guidelines are clear that the team cannot deal with last-minute preparation requests and states “if you have an allergy to an animal, fish or shellfish protein, our vegetarian equivalent will be provided as an alternative.
“This also applies to aversions due to religious reasons.”
Touching on the subject of religious diets, Mana is not alone in its refusal to budge.
Another fine dining spot in Manchester, the trendy NQ eatery District, has also proven itself unwilling to adapt this year after getting embroiled in a ‘religious diet’ row with a customer that went viral on social media.
The argument, which stemmed from the new wave Thai eatery’s non-refundable deposit policy, came to a head after a customer asked for its famously strict 12-course set menu to be altered to cater to his religious needs.
In this instance, the diner asked for a pork dish to be substituted after already paying his £15 deposit, at which point he had already been notified that he should contact the restaurant about dietaries before putting down any money for the booking.
After being told it was not possible, he emailed to ask “why not shout loud on your homepage ‘We don’t cater for Jews'”.
Ultimately, however, his threats to speak out on social media spectacularly backfired after the restaurant posted them to its social pages themselves – adding it ‘will not be bullied or threatened into returning deposits’.
Co-owner Ben Humphries later told the Manchester Evening News: “From the moment a guest makes a reservation work begins on sourcing and ordering the very best ingredients for their experience. If we then can not fill that table, this expensive produce may go to waste.”
Whilst some might consider a high-end restaurants’ refusal to modify their menu to suit the dietary requirements a bit inhospitable for hospitality, as prices continue to rise and margins get tighter, it is becoming necessary for businesses’ survival to make these calls.
Unfortunately, some of those people are just going to have to like it or lump it.
Feature image – District