FOOD FOR THOUGHT:
PLANNING FOR SPECIAL MEAL REQUESTS
"Food is the great equalizer. You can bring a group of people together from all walks of life and generations, and suddenly you are all speaking a common language, having a joined experience…and people are quite vocal and expressive, as they should be, about what they are eating and their
dining experiences." CHEF GORDON RAMSAY
Special meal requests are becoming increasingly prevalent in the food and beverage industry.
Lactose Free, Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian, No Pork, No Red Meat, Nut Free, No Seafood, Low-Carb…just to name a few. These are just the beginning of the special meal requests that are encountered on a regular basis. Attendees have various allergies, preferences, religious beliefs, and medical requirements when it comes to what they consume and often these requirements can make or break an attendee’s perception of the event.
Unexpected special meal requirements can create a hiccup for any event or even a nightmare if there are enough of them. Not being aware can throw off your entire schedule for the evening as you wait for everyone to be served. Being unaware of special requirements of guests can not only affect their experience, but the experience of others at their table that may wait to eat, letting their meal sit and lose its freshness.
Planning ahead can help ensure all of your guests are satisfied and keep your event on track and on budget. Think about including a question about dietary restrictions or allergies during your registration process or make it available in pre-event materials. This can be as simple as creating a link to an online survey where attendees can include their name, table number (if they have it)/name of the person who bought the ticket, and the meal request that they have.
Collect the data from the survey, which in a number of programs you can download as an excel spreadsheet, and provide it to your event planner. Help the Servers serve your guests better by identifying Guests with special meals in a unique manner. Perhaps a coloured ticket at their place setting! Or a place card with an identifying sticker in one corner!
Food & Beverage is a key component of the event experience. It can influence people’s moods and ultimately their perception. Doing your best to ensure that guests have a positive dining experience can help boost their participation and engagement, helping them to get more out of your event and maybe even add more to it.
Thanks for this brief article. Menu planning for events is certainly a more difficult process now than in decades gone by. Thanks for the reminders and helpful ideas.
Thanks Heather and you are quite welcome; I am glad you enjoyed the blog.
Allergies and dietary concerns do seem to be more prevalent now than they did in decades past, which I'm sure can complicate meal planning. Hopefully some of these tips and reminders will help make it a bit easier.