Why Dietary Requirements Matter

Recently someone put a post on Instagram which read…

Event caterer; noun
Someone who cooks delicious food and solves dietary problems you didn’t know you had in ways you won’t understand!

This is a pretty good description of what we do an awful lot of the time, and whilst the line above is of course funny, there is a serious side to all of this.

In December 2014 when it became law to advise all customers of the 14 trigger allergens which include celery, milk, gluten and lupin to name just a few it put a rightful, and added pressure on all food establishments to reveal what is in the food being sold. These do not even begin to take into consideration other rare food intolerances like that of the deadly nightshade family or just a plain dislike to courgettes for example which all add to the pressure that chefs and food establishments are under.

In what is believed to be the first case of it’s kind in 2016 restaurant owner Mohammad Zaman was jailed for six years for manslaughter after the death of a customer with a peanut allergy and in the same year  15 year old Natasha Ednan-Laperouse died after suffering an allergic reaction to a sandwich purchased in Pret a Manger leading the fast food chain to now list all ingredients on their packing.

There is an ever increasing demand for superb, freshly prepared and cooked food at lower and lower cost – and on the events side of the industry the cost is often the difference between winning and losing a booking. The trouble with this is that at times the time and effort involved, and our own desire to keep food to a certain standard can make this a real challenge. Of course, I would rather know in advance what the guests would like / are able to eat, but at a recent wedding of just 35 guests we had 27 adjustments to the menu. 27 – and every single one was different! Imagine being the chef team plating up this event, and take into account that some of those 27 changes are potentially due to life threatening allergies, and you begin to understand just why we are so vigilant when asking for table plans and dietary requirements.

Let’s move on to another Instagram post I saw….

Event planner; noun
Someone who does precision guesswork based on unreliable data by someone who can’t make up their mind!
(Also see wizard and magician)

Again, just a joke, BUT there are times when our event planners really do have to push to get our clients to provide table plans, or allergen sheets for their guests. We can’t leave it to chance, and we have to have a paper trail that demonstrates that we have followed procedures for many reasons – to make sure that on the day the event runs smoothly, to project ourselves as a company, but even more to protect our team, so that if someone does react to an ingredient that burden of guilt doesn’t fall on the shoulders of an innocent chef or planner. There is so much responsibility on the shoulders of these amazing people when you stop and consider it.

The good news is that at our last Environmental Health inspection we were actually told that we do more than is expected and that our menus and event files are incredibly thorough when it comes to ensuring dietary requests are covered.  We are very proud of that, and to know that yet again we are leading the way with ‘best practice’ within the industry!