F&B: I have a special menu request…

I love food and can create a mean menu. It’s one of my favorite elements of event planning. Could be because we’re bringing together people to enjoy a meal. Full bellies = happy guests. However, menu creating can be a bit tricky.

When you are producing an event, you need to be mindful of so many details. One very important detail is dietary needs. It’s important to capture this information during your registration process. If you don’t have a means of obtaining this information, you need to make sure there are many options as well as everything being clearly labeled. Your convention services manager appreciates all this detail.

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Thai marinated tofu spring rolls with sweet chili dipping sauce by Culinary Eye.  Photo by Brian MacStay Photography

There are so many different types of dietary needs out there.
Below are some of the more common ones.

Peanut or Nut Allergy
Vegetarian
Vegan
Gluten-Free (Celiac Disease)
Kosher
Raw
Lactose Intolerant
Diabetic
Halal
Hindu

Do you know what a Flexitarian is? It’s a person who is vegetarian but chooses to eat meat. The key word here is chooses.  Guests are more mindful about what is going into their bodies and healthy eating is important to them. Admittedly, I try to stay away from gluten as much as possible and I don’t have Celiac – for me, it’s a choice.

I thought grilled fish and chicken were gluten-gree and scrambled eggs was dairy free.  I was wrong. Chefs lightly flour fish and chicken because it helps to seal in the moisture and it’s more flavorful. If you add milk or cream to eggs, it makes them richer and the yield is higher.  Thus making these options neither gluten-free in the case of the fish and chicken and dairy-free in the case of the eggs.

This is exactly why its critical to let your convention services manager know about dietary needs.  They can make these dishes gluten-free and dairy-free so everyone can enjoy a delicious meal and not have to worry about getting sick.

I saw this article on BizBash last week – which prompted me to write this post. For years, the most common dietary concerns were for vegetarians and vegans.  Personally I feel like they were robbed of a great meal.  They would get multi-colored cauliflower on their plate or the famous pasta primavera. Now that culinary has taken a front seat at events, chefs are getting much more creative for all the special meal requests..

Here are some of my favorites from the BizBash article:

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Lobster mushroom-crusted, beet-marinated potato and grilled zucchini, served with bluefoot mushrooms, grilled kale, roasted salsify, and chive cream, by Blossom in New York.  Photo by Alex James Photography

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Grilled vegetable pesto pizza topped with mushrooms, zucchini, and grape tomatoes, by Leslie Durso in Los Angeles. Photo Courtesy of Leslie Durso

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This one sounds delicious and definitely one that I’m going to add to our menus!! Springtime risotto made of minced zucchini and broccolini “rice,” served with green pea and lemon sauce, fiddlehead ferns, tricolor baby carrots, and baby fennel, by Blossom in New York.  Photo by Alex James Photography

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Caryl Lyons

Managing Partner
With a love for design, her signature style infuses everyday life into events. Her philosophy is to create an experience with food, color, music and interior design. You won't see just a pen and pad at one of her events.
3 Comments
  1. Emily August 31, 2016, 7:45

    This is a great resource! For those of us without food allergies, there is so much we take for granted. A friend recently discovered the source of her health issues is a corn & soy allergy, and I could not believe how prevalent both of those are!

    • Caryl Lyons August 31, 2016, 7:55

      Very true Emily. We make sure everything is labeled at our events and when I was walking through all the allergies with the chef, I was floored at what people would eat and not eat. We were able to remedy some of the items as he was able to make them gluten free, etc.

  2. Richard September 06, 2016, 7:22

    We produce Corporate Culinary Team Building events. It seems that more and more participants have allergy related issues at each event. We have designed our menus to include offerings that meet all of the most prevalent allergies. Recently we have had folks that say they are allergic to ingredients such as garlic and tomatoes. My guess is these are not allergies but food preferences. Regardless we must accommodate these people. Because the group actually prepares the meal we can make some of each recipe to satisfy most any concern. Our goal is to have ALL the participants walk away happy.

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