Event Planning: Food Trends and Allergies

By Jillian Fehrenbach on Dec 29, 2016 in Group Travel, Incentive Travel

As we say goodbye to the old year and look forward to the new one, we also anticipate the emergence of new trends. And nowhere are we more obsessed with the latest trends than when it comes to what we eat! Regardless of the content we include in our meetings and incentives, food will always play a major role and is one of the main things people will remember—good, bad, or otherwise! So, what’s new in food for 2017? 

Well, the good news is, pasta is still “in”, so there’s still hope for all of you carb junkies. The folks at Food & Drink Resources suggest the time for kale and beets has come and gone. What will be taking their place? Hold onto your hat. Are you ready for… khachapuri?  Although it doesn’t sound appealing, the description isn’t as bad as the name would lead you to believe. It’s a traditional Georgian (the country, not the place Ray Charles sang about) dish made of flatbread, melted cheese, and a runny egg. Also hot? Seaweed. Sustainable and packed with antioxidants, fiber, iodine and good fats, some say seaweed is the new kale. Peasant food continues to trend, but this year with an Asian flare, in foods like Okonomiyaki (a popular Japanese pancake consisting of batter and cabbage, served with savory toppings). Find more 2017 food trends here.

Are you hungry yet? Yeah, me neither. So, let’s talk about some things that aren’t likely to change—at least not a lot—when it comes to food in the coming year. Dietary restrictions and food allergies. These have become more prevalent with each passing year, and planners need to know how to deal with a variety of specific dietary issues. The most common requests are for gluten free and vegetarian dishes. One of the most important things to find out from your event attendees is whether the request is simply that—a preference—or if the guest could have a severe, even life-threatening, allergic reaction to certain foods. Here are a few steps to keep your event—and your participants—safe.

  • Include a question about dietary preferences and allergies in your registration
  • If a guest doesn’t provide adequate information about their allergy, contact them
  • Talk with your caterer about the specific issues present in your group
  • If doing a plated meal, provide a description of the menu and preparation to attendees in advance
  • If you’re having a buffet or food stations, make sure every item is labeled. Identify food that contains major allergens (dairy, eggs, shellfish, nuts, wheat, and soy)
  • Keep sauces separate (but also labeled)
  • If you have someone that suffers from severe allergies, make sure cross-contamination is addressed in food placement and utensils
  • Make sure servers are aware of the allergies and are well-versed in the contents of the food being served
  • Have an epi pen on hand and know how to use it

 Following these few guidelines will keep your events flowing smoothly and your guests engaged and happy. And that’s what it’s all about in the end, right?