A Menu That Makes You Go Mmm

food ingredients for menu

Allergy-friendly and vegan meals that will make everyone at the party envious

Picture this: You are giving a tour of your venue for an event this new customer is planning. They ooh and ahh over how stunning the space is, and the selfie-taking in each space is on overload. And now you confirmed that their ideal date is available. You start talking about details, especially how food will take a pivotal role in the evening. 

The event planner shares that they are vegan and one of the guests has Celiac disease. Are you prepared to give them a worry-free meal experience?

Menu planning for allergens and dietary preferences continues to get more complicated. Guests are no longer satisfied with a portobello mushroom instead of meat; they want a sophisticated dining experience like the rest of their party. 

Approximately 32 million Americans, roughly 10% of the population, suffer from food allergies, according to the Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America. Adults with allergies are most commonly allergic to nuts, shellfish, milk, and gluten. This population is growing, requiring venues to think about the numerous opportunities for cross-contamination, such as cooking oil, steam, grills, fryers, utensils, cutting boards, pots, and pans. Today, only two states — Massachusetts and Rhode Island — require allergy training, but that has not stopped other forward-thinking kitchens and chefs from being prepared. 

Going beyond allergens, vegan and vegetarian diets have grown in popularity. We have seen growth from 1% of the US population in 1994 to 6% in 2022. Everyone from fast food chains to high-end restaurants has developed plant-based options to delight these diners. Some take cross-contamination more seriously than others — for example, calamari and cauliflower cannot be fried in the same fryer — but the risk is often less severe.

So how are venues supposed to delight guests and provide a safe and enjoyable dining experience? Two Tripleseat customers share their favorite allergy and vegan-friendly dishes that look and taste delicious and leave crowds wanting more. 

Olive + Oak  | Webster Groves, Mo.

Casey Fechter, Director of Events, O+O Hospitality Group

Dish: Sweet Potato Mulligatawny 

Ingredients: Sweet potatoes, apple, chickpea, yellow curry broth, and local white rice

Dietary needs covered: Gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan

Why allergy-friendly meals are important: ​​We never want our guests to feel as if their needs are an inconvenience to our team. We are here to provide them with an exceptional experience, and that goes for all guests, whether it’s an allergen, dietary restriction, or preference. Everyone deserves a meal that is composed and complete. From our starters to our desserts, we pride ourselves on our abilities to craft an Olive + Oak quality meal that satisfies both needs as well as taste buds, and furthermore, we educate our staff and team about the ingredients and cooking methods used to create those dishes so guests can feel comfortable and confident in their selections.

PLANTA | Bethesda, Md.; Chicago; Florida; New York; and Toronto

Sandra Ranitsky, Director, Sales, Events and Partnerships, PLANTA Restaurants

Dish: Avocado Lime Tartare 

Ingredients: Avocado, beetroot runa, pine nuts, capers, citrus soy, sesame, cilantro, and taro chips. When we’ve got a nut allergy at the table, we’ll simply remove the pine nuts.  

Why allergy-friendly meals are important: ​​PLANTA prides itself on being a destination restaurant where all guests feel welcome and at ease. We’re quite used to working with limitations as far as ingredients (though we don’t really view it as limiting) being a plant-based restaurant, and as a matter of fact, we thrive on the challenge. Many of our guests trust PLANTA for this reason and feel comfortable knowing we can deal with allergies, intolerances, and preferences of all kinds.

Editor’s Note: This article’s content first appeared in the Spring 2023 issue of Seated magazine.