Dietary requirements! Why does the catering industry hate them so?
1 x guest who is allergic to mushrooms and tomatoes.
1 x guest who cannot eat garlic, root vegetables and butter
1 x guest who is allergic to fish
1 x guest who is allergic to eggs, gluten, and legumes
1 x guest who is allergic to gluten, dairy and onions
"Thanks for the dietary requirements" said no chef ever!!!
How would you like to cook for these delightful guests? What if I said you needed to cook for them on the same night... to be served at the same time as everyone else... what if I said there were 300 guests... what if I said they were all from the head table... what if there are also 20 vegetarians... what if there were also 10 kids who need a totally different menu too... What if I said that you would need to take care of all the special dietary needs on your own? AAAHHHAHAHA AHAH!!!! Run... Run...
This is the type of situation I've had to deal with several times throughout my career and will be very familiar to many people from the industry. You can see how the situation starts to add up, especially when these don't usually get given to you until a couple of days prior to your important event and in all likelihood will get changed a number of times. The truth is, that it's not the dietary requirements that chefs and catering staff can't stand. It's those ones that read like someone's personal wish list for their dinner. You've got to wonder... when a requirement comes in saying no tomatoes, onions, garlic, cream or shellfish? Is this someone with a genuine allergy or just someone who is so fussy that they should just bring their own?
The catering industry is a labour heavy industry, meaning that you rely on those around you. It is also an industry that can rely on low paid unskilled workers. Often chefs will be surrounded by less skilled workers than themselves and will continuously have to keep eyes in the back of their head with their staff. So in doing this, how on earth are they to make sure that these extras (as they often see them) are to be taken care of properly when they still need to show young Steven how to peel a spud properly? There in often lies the problem... it's not that they don't know how or are unwilling to deal with dietary's. They just don't have the workers with enough expertise to help them do so as it takes food knowledge and experience to put together a menu and the proper food safety hazard analysis in to place.
At LA Catering though, we know how to cope. We've got an experienced team and we have the appropriate procedures in place in order to make sure no cross contamination can occur. With lunch people seem to be at their most particular. We don't just deal with dietary requirements... no no no! We deal with daily requests for 'no mayo' 'no butter' 'less wet fillings' 'more brown bread' 'no cupcakes' etc etc etc. However, we thrive on this. It is our company motto... 'our food the way you like it'. We realised really early on that people like their lunch 'just so' and that if we can do that for them, then we'll have a successful business. Almost 10 years later, we seem to be doing something right and we just hope we can continue to do so.