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How to talk to your restaurant about seed oils

How to talk to your restaurant about seed oils

Copypasta until further updates. Photo from Pexels

Phil submitted a seed oil free restaurant to the map in Boulder and asked:

If you guys have a guide or suggestions on reaching out to other restaurants, I’d be keen to do that here in Boulder, CO. I’ve asked around a little and am always a little unsure of the type of response I’ll receive.

How to ask restaurants if they use seed oils

Nothing beats calling around and checking with any restaurant that looks like it may accommodate. It’s best to call when they’re not super busy, so avoid rush.

Ask for a chef or manager who can fill you in on “allergen and preparation info.” That’s officially what this domain of info is called within the industry.

  • ”Can I speak with someone about food allergen and preparation info?”
  • They’ll either transfer you to someone, or give you a time to call back, or field it themselves.
  • ”Do you guys use vegetable oil or seed oils? Canola, soybean, sunflower, etc?”
  • “Where do you use it? In the fryers, or elsewhere? In the sauces?”
  • ”What do you use? Tallow, lard, ghee, butter, duck fat, olive, coconut?”
  • ”Can you accommodate vegetable oil free or seed oil free dining?”

If they’re hip to all this, they’ll tell you right away that they don’t use seed oils. That’s rare. If a restaurant has decided to intentionally avoid seed oils, they are most likely advertising it somewhere.

Non-dietary reasons to be seed oil free

You might find cases where they only use olive oil, but they don’t think about it in a “seed oil free” way because they’re vegan or Italian and booting seed oils because people expect something else for the taste. Another example being Latin American restaurants who use lard or “manteca” for the flavor.

They might not know what “seed oils” are. From my experience, the food service industry calls it “vegetable oil” more often. I usually start off with “vegetable oil” and clarify with “canola, soybean, sunflower, etc” if it sounds like they need clarification.

Ask if the restaurant can accommodate

If the restaurant is willing and able to accommodate, that’s good. Add them to the map. If enough people find them on the website, visit, and ask for accommodation, they might get the idea to explore switching to something like beef tallow or coconut oil for their fries. The restaurant might also have grilled options or some other cross section of their menu that makes it possible for a customer to dine seed oil free (if this is the case, make note of it when adding them).

The smoothest lead-in is asking if they can accommodate. If they’re 100% seed oil free, they’ll most likely tell you. If they can accommodate, without restricting too much of their menu, they’re better than most. If not, keep on moving.

Add them to the cooking oil map

If they’re using something other than seed oils, they belong on the map. Add them to the map using the submit new restaurant form.

Best of luck in your search, let me know what you find!

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