Menu Planning for Events – Food Allergies and Special Requests
It’s not unusual for many of us in the restaurant, catering and event planning industries to be increasingly aware of the issues of food allergies and other dietary restrictions. Guests at an event can have severe allergies to nuts, seafood, berries or any number of foods that must be avoided. Health issues such as Celiac Disease (an intolerance of any foods containing gluten) and diabetes may restrict the food options for certain guests, as well as personal diet restrictions for those who are vegetarian, vegan or eat only kosher foods. Menu planning can be an involved process and it is important for meeting and event planners to have an awareness of dietary issues.
At a large event where it would be difficult to find out every attendee’s food requirements, avoiding common allergens (like nuts) and having a variety of food options makes sense. Hosts of smaller events may be able to provide information as to guests’ dietary requirements so that last minute scrambling in the kitchen can be avoided. Many people with food issues are used to asking for specific preferences, but obviously it’s better to have this information prior to the event.
Generally, there is a request for a deadline for special food requests, so that a menu and any required optional dishes can be developed. Food preferences or allergies can be addressed during the registration process for large events – a simple check-box or place to note special requests. For smaller meetings and events, it may be possible for the host to ask guests if there are any issues with food.
We always accommodate allergy requests, and consider it an important part of an event planner’s job. With a little knowledge, good communication, and advance planning, a professional meeting and event planner can ensure that every guest’s dietary needs are met.