With one exception, I've always had good success. Success to me is being able to eat something - even if its just 2 items. For example - I'm going to a wedding tomorrow. After talking with the caterer (who was very nice and seemingly understanding of what gluten free meant) I discovered that I can eat the pork loin, green beans, and mashed potatoes. She told me she would request that my salad be removed from the large bowl before croutons were added. This kind of offer suggests that there is an understanding that crumbs must be avoided. yay!
One has to hope that food safety is observed and cross contamination is avoided.
Of course it is still risky - just as dining out is always risky. Personally, dining out is one of life's enjoyments I am not ready to give up. But I am very cautious. I was so happy to have so many items available to eat - meat, potatoes, veggie and a salad. Nice. I never even feel bad that I can't indulge in the cake.
The caterer for this wedding tomorrow told me that they use corn starch for the gravy. yay! The thought of being able to include the gravy on my plate was such a bonus! But after I hung up I had a "duh" moment. The thickening agent isn't the only concern. So I called back and asked what else is included as some stock is not gluten free. She told me they use a beef base (but she didn't offer to check) and I said "some are not gluten free so I won't risk it, but thank you so much." *Always be polite when checking with those who prepare your food :)
She didn't offer to check - and I didn't ask her to. Why is it, that after 13 years, I still find it difficult to ask someone to go "out of their way."
But as someone who serves food to the general public, I thought "this should be their responsibility to know what is in the food they serve" (especially with all the food allergies these days.) So a couple days later (today) I sent a short email asking if she could check the label on the stock if she had the time. She got right back and said "wheat" was listed.
Be careful folks. And enjoy!