Catering for Guests with Food Allergies

Massachusetts Event Catering - Wedding Guest Allergies


The Essex Room’s Masachusetts event catering team is sensitive to the dietary needs of a wide range of clients. In this podcast, interviewer Katlyn Graham talks with The Essex Room’s Chef Ned about catering options at Massachusetts events for guests with food allergies. Whether you enjoy one of our corporate functions or weddings, on-site or off, you can rest assured we will modify our menu options to your specific requirements.

Katlyn Graham: Hello, I’m Katlyn Graham. I’m joined today by the new corporate chef at Woodman’s event venue, the Essex Room.

Chef Ned has more than 20 years of culinary experience. He has received three first place awards in national chowder competitions. He will lend his expertise to events at the Essex Room.

These days, almost everyone seems to have some sort of allergy. Caterers have to be proactive about that.

Chef Ned, what kind of specific requests have you received from clients lately in regards to allergy concerns?

Chef Ned: They vary. The most common one, obviously, is a nut allergy. That is something that you have to be concerned about. It isn’t being allergic to a nut or having a gluten problem. It’s cross contamination when you’re preparing these foods from a culinary standpoint.

If I know that there are multiple allergies at at event that we’re going to provide culinary offerings to, we wash our cutting boards after every single use of any particular item. You can’t even cut bread on a cutting board and then flip it over and use it for something else. You have to be concerned about that.

Whenever we’re preparing food, we use…they look like examination gloves a doctor’s office. Whenever we’re handling food, we make sure that we’re not touching it with our bare hands. You can wash your hands 75 times, but you still can’t get everything off of them. We are very concerned about that when we have a client that that’s difficult.

Katlyn: What other requests have you received about peoples’ allergy concerns?

Ned: The strangest one I ever had is somebody that was allergic to eggs. If you cracked a raw egg, he would be having to go to the hospital. He couldn’t eat a cooked egg. There were no dairy products at all.

There was no cream. There was no sour cream. There was no eggs. There was no cheese. That was a difficult one, All of a sudden…say that you go to the store to buy one of those Nantucket rubs that you’d put on a piece of fish or a chicken or a piece of meat. There’s whey products in there. There’s something else right there.

We cook what we cook from what they call from scratch. We make everything ourselves. We don’t buy anything that’s predone. Therefore, we get to control the product that’s going out the door.

Katlyn: It sounds like you’re very careful and take a lot of precautions to prevent…

Ned: There was a story about some restaurant that was out in San Francisco in 1994. The wait person was notified by the patron that they had a nut allergy. It was reported to the chef in the kitchen, but he would not tell what his secret ingredient was in pesto. The person ate it and died in the restaurant.

Katlyn: Oh, my gosh.

Ned: Who needs a lawsuit? You go out of your way to really make sure. That’s my responsibility, to make sure that the health of our guests is going to be considered.

Katlyn: How can guests and everyone else who’s at these events help prevent allergic reactions? What can they do?

Ned: There isn’t much you can do after that. You can only be notified as much as possible by the bride, the bride’s mother, the bride’s father, or the groom and their family.

When the guests arrive, if somebody does have a real severe allergy towards something, they pretty much make it clear. They’ll come right into your kitchen and say look, I can’t eat and/or touch this. Can you accommodate me? We’ll say absolutely.

Katlyn: Great. Thank you so much for joining us today, Chef Ned. I think you had some excellent tips in there for us. I appreciate it.

Ned: You’re welcome.

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