Special Meal Requests and Advance Planning

Does your advance planning include special meal requests?  For example: food allergies, vegetarian, vegan, medical needs, and types of religious dietary law.

Your audience with food allergies can find it difficult to travel and at the same time trust that they should have no worries with the foods served at events. One wrong ingredient or cross contamination of foods, can end their stay at your event, very quickly.

The planning for special meal requests may appear to be a burden on the planner. With the proper advance planning, your time commitment with this task will be minimal.

Special Meal Requests Checklist

What do you think about when you are in the process of building your menus and negotiating with your food and beverage vendor? Here are eight things to learn when talking with the culinary staff:

  1. Share historical data that provides a listing of special meal requests. This will be helpful as the menus are designed.
  2. Do the facility menus identify gluten free alternatives? For example, restaurant menus often list a symbol adjacent to foods if they can be prepared gluten free or if they are a healthy option.
  3. When you design a menu with the Chef, build the entire menu to be gluten free. An example for an entrée could be as easy as changing a glaze sauce to a vinaigrette sauce.
  4. Learn about the experience level and training of the culinary staff as it relates to special meal requests. Are they equipped to accommodate your needs?
  5. How does the Chef plan and execute the menu preparation so that there is no cross contamination of foods.
  6. Ask the Chef about trends that their staff has experienced.
  7. Learn about their procedures with handling special meal requests.
  8. Identify additional costs associated with special meal requests.

Taking the time to meet with the culinary staff during the planning stages of your event will allow for effective planning and execution of your culinary functions.

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