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October 3, 2006

Special Events Require Special Menus

source: specialevents.com

by Jana Skarnulis

Jana Skarnulis was diagnosed with celiac disease — a digestive disorder triggered by the protein gluten — in 2005 and has had to give up one of the benefits of her job as an event planner — the tastings. She now helps chefs design menus when a food allergy or special diet is a concern. Here, she offers tips on adapting event menus for guests with food issues who are still eager to join the party.

As professionals in the special event industry, it is our job to transform the clients' visions into perfection. Often, special events means tackling special needs. With the increasing incidence of food allergies, intolerances and sensitivities, special needs mean special diets. Even so, creating menus that “wow” the clients and cater to their guests can be achieved easily.


Preparation is the key to success. There is nothing worse than a guest showing up to a dinner and having to wait while a special meal is prepared. The table of attendees sits and waits for the missing plate, while the guest with the special diet anxiously shifts in his or her seat, and the wait staff apologizes for the delay. At last the plate of food arrives, and it usually arouses either envy or pity.

We can avert this by doing one simple thing: A response card should accompany all invitations. Adding a sentence of inquiry on all response cards asking for information on “special dietary needs” would be a great problem-solver. Being properly prepared is half the battle! Using such a card means we know before the event that there are special dietary needs, and we know who has them.

Printed menus are exquisite. They add an element of elegance to any event. But take them a step further — not only list the courses but also the ingredients within the courses. Let the guests who may not have expressed their nutritional concerns on their RSVP have the opportunity to make individual choices in keeping with their dietary concerns.


Posted by David at October 3, 2006 1:41 PM