As the RSVPs begin to come in, seeing special diets checked off on response cards may start to make your head spin. However, managing special diets can be an easy game with some simple organization. To be sure each guest has a safe and enjoyable time, we rely on clear communication from the start of planning straight through the dinner serve with our staff and our client for ultimate success. By openly communicating with our clients, these five must-dos for any event with special meals helps minimize the impact of food allergies:
What YOU need to do: ASK!
When planning the event, be sure that clear communication is sent to guests indicating menu options (such as the choice between chicken or fish) and an easy to understand section for guests to indicate any food allergies. Asking guests about allergies ahead of time allows the host to determine alternate options if necessary and allows the chef to suggest suitable accommodations that can be made.
What YOU need to do: TELL!
This may seem like something that is implied, but there are those that think we come prepared for everything just in case and can get a meal out on the fly like a restaurant. When catering at our exclusive locations or offsite venues, we do not have the arsenal of our main kitchen to support us. This is why making the caterer aware of food allergies or intolerances as soon as they are known to you. The sooner we know, the more prepared we can be to provide safe and healthy options. However, part of telling is doing more than only telling the caterer. Depending on your event, this may also mean telling your guests too. Again, this is situational. For example, if you are providing menu cards for each of the place settings or a menu card per table, it is important to communicate dietary information on the menu card by marking items as gluten-free or vegetarian.
What WE need to do: LABEL!
Unless you plan on providing custom menu cards for all items being served at your event, we have this covered. Over the years our team has developed a collection of reusable menu cards that we place on buffets and stations at events so that those guests with food allergies can dine freely and with the knowledge of what they are enjoying. Many of our labels include dietary notes for the most frequent allergens encountered such as dairy and gluten.
What WE need to do: COMMUNICATE!
If it wasn’t for the event order our chefs and serving team wouldn’t know what they need to for your guest’s safety, but it goes beyond the event order. Our event specialists make sure that the whole team understand what allergens are present and what is being served. Guests often ask servers about what makes up each dish so during our pre-shift meetings before the event begins we go over important information such as allergies and special meals, timeline, and other important serving goals.
What WE need to do: SERVE SAFELY!
Our event captains are aware of the guests with special meals and communicates that to those servers whose tables have one of those guests dining in their section. When guests are seated, our servers introduce themselves to their guests and also verify any special diets at their table. This helps our servers serve guests safely by being sure their special meals are given to the right guests. Our captains and servers rely on the information given to the event specialist which is typed into their event order and given to them. It’s a bit of a chain of communication, but without it our serving teams wouldn’t be able to serve all of our guests safely for their ultimate enjoyment.
Kahn’s Catering’s commitment to great food and great service is continually expanding through training, professional development and enhanced policies for the safety of our guests and our staff.