Caterers Respond to Flood of Special Diet Demands: Part III

Oct 17, 2012 2:23 PM, By Lisa Hurley

Making a dish both vegetarian and gluten-free–there are many ways caterers today tweak menus to suit special guest requests. 


Culinary Capers’ Baby Beet Salad with Fromage Blanc Tart is an elegant vegetarian option.

With the percentage of event guests requesting special meals more than doubling over the last 10 years, caterers are turning to a variety of strategies to keep clients happy while holding the line on margins.

In Part III of our series, we share tips from leading caterers:


Culinary Capers Catering and Special Events
Vancouver, British Columbia
Debra Lykkemark, CEO

To keep costs under control, we will often try and design the special meal option to be served with that same starch and vegetables we are serving with the regular meal.

We also try and design our special options to cover a number of the above listed special requests. For example: If the regular entree was beef tenderloin with a port jus with grilled vegetables and rosemary roasted potatoes, we could substitute our vegan roasted vegetable and heirloom bean terrine for the beef tenderloin and port jus, serving it with the grilled vegetables and potatoes. Providing we just used olive oil on the potatoes and vegetables and no garlic or onion, this dish would be suitable for lactose intolerance, gluten-free, vegan, nut and seafood allergies, Jewish and Muslim.

Example: Special meal options for an event for 730 guests that we just catered:

First Course
Vegetarian option: Baby Beet Salad with Fromage Blanc Tart (in photo) 
Golden and red beets, tarragon, honey, vinegar, shaved rainbow radishes and frisée salad

Entree Course
Gluten-free, vegan (without cheese) and vegetarian option: Roasted Vegetable and Heirloom Bean Terrine
Roasted red and yellow bell peppers, fennel, thyme, basil, and heirloom beans, wrapped zucchini, served with capers, red pepper coulis and Asiago cheese

Served with the same starch and vegetables as the regular entree (Short Rib Provençal): Gâteau De Pommes Du Terre
Smashed young red potatoes, olive oil and parsley
Legumes du Jour Pas De Beurre
Fresh seasonal vegetables tossed in fresh herbs and olive oil

Dessert Course
Gluten- and dairy-free option: Coconut Panna Cotta
Made with coconut milk and fresh berries

For large sit-down dinners all these special requests can be very challenging. We recommend setting up a separate plating line for special meals as it will keep the service moving quickly.

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