Wedding Food and Allergies

Chef Ned Grieg talks about wedding food and allergies, including how prevalent food allergies have become, and he explains how he handles working on weddings where allergies are an issue, including creating food that is gluten-free and celiac-safe.


Good afternoon, my name is Ned Grieg. I’m the Corporate Executive Chef for The Woodman’s Restaurant Group and The Essex Room. I’m here to talk to you about the complications of menu planning for weddings in the 21st Century.

Unlike it was a decade ago, or 20 years ago, people are not living the way they used to. Apparently, what doctors have told me, is that we’re living too clean a life. We have developed a significant amount more allergens and allergies, from nuts to wheat, to celiac.

We had one bride that came in here and she was allergic to 27 different things. That was a very difficult wedding to pull off. But we do accommodate them. I’m surprised at how much it has grown. It has grown as quickly as the organic food business has, and the less of a carbon footprint that we’re all trying to do. But it is very concerning, because any wedding that we do now, I can guarantee you that there’s at least 15 to 20 people out of every 100 guests, they have an allergy issue, and we need to know it.

It isn’t just having problem with nuts and pesto – we don’t even put nuts in our pesto anymore. I keep four different types of gluten free flour in the back. One’s a quinoa, one’s a garbanzo bean, one’s a rice and the other one is actually a brown rice. We use those things on a regular basis with people that don’t want to have any gluten.

It’s a big concern for us. We try to make sure that we can accommodate their interests and their needs at all times. Even wedding cakes that we have people make. They’ve asked us, “Well, we know that you can get us a gluten-free wedding cake, but is it made in a nut free environment?” That is very difficult to make sure that happens. But there are a few companies that are out there. One of them is called “Something Sweet Without Wheat”. There are people out there that you can get these items from.