Catering for Dietary Restrictions

Catering for Dietary Restrictions: 5 Tips to Create Inclusive and Diverse Menus for Your Event

Catering an event, whether a corporate gathering, wedding, or party, is an intricate dance of flavors. And when it comes to catering for dietary restrictions, the choreography becomes even more nuanced. As awareness of dietary restrictions and food sensitivities grows, it is now imperative for event planners to adopt a more mindful and inclusive approach to their food selections.

Today, approximately 6 out of 10 Americans have some sort of dietary restriction. These restrictions can range from allergies, intolerances, medical conditions (such as diabetes or celiac disease), religious beliefs, or lifestyle preferences (like vegetarianism or veganism). Therefore, when feeding a large group of people, event planners must consider a wide variety of dietary restrictions and food sensitivities.

In this blog, our expert caters provide tips on how to successfully cater an event that accommodates various dietary requirements.

5 tips for catering for dietary restrictions

Hosting an event with catering for dietary restrictions requires careful planning and attention to detail. To help you navigate the process, our expert caters have provided key considerations to help you create an unforgettable dining experience for all your guests.

1. Collect dietary information in advance.

Table full of catered food, behind are people eating

Start by gathering information about dietary restrictions and allergies from attendees during the RSVP process. This early collection of data allows you to plan a menu that caters to specific needs.

One of the most efficient ways of collecting guests’ dietary information is through event websites. When creating the RSVP form on the event website, incorporate specific fields for guests to provide details about their dietary preferences, restrictions, or allergies. Include options for common dietary considerations such as vegetarianism, veganism, gluten intolerance, nut and shellfish allergies, and others. You can then easily share this information with your caterer.

2. Work with an experienced and professional catering company.

Puff n Stuff chefs finishing up

The catering company you choose is one of the most significant factors when planning an event. Be sure to hire a catering company that is reputable, experienced, and capable of accommodating diverse dietary needs without sacrificing quality. It’s important that your guests with dietary restrictions don’t feel like they are being served less than options.

For example, at Puff `n Stuff, we have catered numerous events throughout Florida with careful consideration of dietary restrictions and food allergies. Our event planners and chefs are renowned for creating beautiful and delicious multi-course menus that are inclusive and diverse, including vegetarian, plant-based, and gluten-free options. During meal preparation, we designate separate areas for different types of food to avoid cross-contamination. And our culinary and serving staff is trained to be aware of dietary restrictions. They can answer all of your guests’ questions and provide accurate information about menu items.

3. Create a diverse and inclusive menu.

Once you have collected dietary information from your guests and have hired an experienced catering company, the next step is to work with your caterer to create a diverse and inclusive menu. Regardless of whether you are serving a banquet or buffet style dinner, a good rule of thumb is to offer options for each course that are traditional, vegan and/or vegetarian, and gluten-free. Below, our catering experts provide menu tips for banquet and buffet style dinners.

Tips for serving plated, banquet dinners:

  • Consider serving appetizers and salads that can be easily amended to fit dietary restrictions. For example, you can serve an Artisan Lettuce Blend salad and have options that omit croutons for gluten-free guests and cheese for vegan guests. This reduces the need to offer different appetizer options and can help you stay on-budget.
  • Similarly, if you are serving chicken or steak for your main course, work with your caterer to find a complimentary vegan entrée option, such as a grilled portobello mushroom steak, that utilizes many of the same sides. This will also help you reduce costs and complexity.
  • If your guests have pre-selected their dinner options through the RSVP process and you have assigned seating arrangements, create name plates for each guest that identify any dietary restrictions. This will help ensure the catering team serves the correct meal to each guest.

Catering for Dietary Restrictions

Tips for serving buffet dinners:

  • Ensure you have entrees and sides that accommodate all your guests’ dietary restrictions, whether that’s vegetarian, vegan or gluten-free.
  • Consider serving sides that meet all (or most) dietary restrictions, such as fresh vegetables prepared without dairy or nuts. This will help you stay on budget.
  • In addition to the client-selected dessert, also provide a standard dessert option that avoids big restrictions like vegan, gluten-free, and nut-free. At Puff ‘n Stuff, we offer a roasted fruit bar using alternative starches like rice flour and textured items like freeze-dried fruits and vegan Chantilly.

4. Clearly label dishes and food items.

Catering for Dietary Restrictions

Labeling is crucial when catering to dietary restrictions. Clearly indicate which dishes are vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, nut-free, or any other relevant information. Use signage, menu cards, or tags to make it easy for guests to identify dishes that align with their dietary needs.

5. Create a signature mocktail for an alcohol-free option

Catering for Dietary Restrictions

Dietary restrictions don’t only pertain to food items. For a more inclusive event experience, consider creating a signature mocktail for an alcohol-free option. Elevate the drink with fun garnishes, such as fresh fruit or herbs, and find a unique name for the mocktail that aligns with your event. For more inspiration on planning an alcohol-free event, check out our article, “Raising the Bar: Innovative Ideas for Non-Alcoholic Wedding Celebrations.”

Elevate your event catering with Florida’s premier full-serving catering company

For over 40 years, Puff n’ Stuff has provided the highest level of culinary excellence, precision, and peace-of-mind for Florida’s most renowned weddings and events. We are Florida’s premier full-service event catering company dedicated to crafting unforgettable culinary experiences tailored to your unique vision, which includes providing custom dining packages with accommodations for various dietary restrictions.

If you’ve ever been to — or heard about – an extraordinary event celebration in Florida that sticks out in your mind above all the rest, the chances are high that Puff `n Stuff was the catering partner. Whether you’re planning a wedding, corporate gathering, or social event, Puff n’ Stuff will help you create an unforgettable dining experience.