Some individuals make the choice to be gluten-free for a variety of reasons, but others, such as those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, react violently when they consume gluten which can result in severe medical consequences. For this population, following a strict gluten-free diet essential, which means gluten-free catering can help people with this special dietary concern enjoy your event. This step-by-step guide can help you effortlessly and safely provide gluten-free options at your next catered event.
When considering gluten-free catering, it's essential to keep the following considerations in mind.
Safety is the number one consideration when providing gluten-free options to protect those sensitive to gluten. These individuals can react from ingesting gluten the size of a crumb. Therefore, monitoring and preventing cross contamination is crucial.
Cross contamination can occur in the preparation and cooking of food, food transportation, and even once food is on the table. Some examples of what cross contamination may look like include:
- Cooking traditional pasta and gluten-free pasta separately but using the same pot
- Using the same spatula to serve a regular cake and a gluten-free cake
- Removing croutons from a salad to make it gluten-free
Some restaurants and caterers become certified in gluten-free food service by independent organizations such as the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness and the Gluten Intolerance Group to demonstrate dedication to and expertise in gluten-free food service. If possible, employ a caterer who has these certifications.
When laying out a catered meal, separating the gluten-free options from the other foods ensures no cross contamination occurs, such as mixing up serving utensils or crumbs migrating to gluten-free foods.
Gluten-free food is no longer bad tasting breads and cardboard crackers. The world of gluten-free food has expanded and contains a wide variety of delicious foods to appeal to all guests. Collaboration with the caterer allows you to find the perfect options for your event. Some foods are naturally gluten-free, such as fruits and vegetables, making them safe options to add more variety to your table.
What to Expect From a Gluten-Free Caterer
When hiring a gluten-free caterer, you may want to double check to ensure the caterer does the following.
- The caterer should use different pots, pans, utensils, etc. when cooking gluten-free foods.
- They should provide alternative gluten-free options for breads, rolls, desserts, croutons, etc.
- The caterer should supply gluten-free selections for you to choose from.
- They claim ownership of the menu and order execution.
- They have a protocol for preparing, cooking, and serving gluten-free options safely.
- They respond with honesty and transparency if they cannot fulfill your needs effectively.
Questions to Ask Your Caterer
When hiring a caterer, ask the following questions.
- Do you have gluten-free options?
- Have you received any gluten-free training or certifications?
- Are gluten-free foods cooked in separate and designated cookware?
- Are gluten-free ingredients stored separately from regular ingredients?
- How do you prevent cross-contamination in the kitchen and in service?
- Have you ever had incidences of cross contamination that resulted in illness of a customer?
Caterers With Gluten-Free Options
There are some nation-wide caterers that offer gluten-free options.
California Pizza Kitchen
California Pizza Kitchen is a national restaurant chain with gluten-free options, known for their "California-style" pizza. California Pizza Kitchen's catering menu also has a wide selection of interesting appetizers, power bowls, fresh salads, pasta, sandwiches, combos, pre-made lunch boxes, and desserts that can be made gluten-free.
Olive Garden has a gluten-free menu made up of delicious salads, soups, pastas, and kids entrees.
Carrabba's is an Italian restaurant that offers gluten-free salads, soups, pasta, protein based dishes, and sides for catering.
There are many private catering companies based on location that specialize in gluten-free catering. These can be found through a simple Google search in your region or use a gluten-free app on your smartphone to locate a caterer near you.
Meeting the dietary needs of everyone at a catered event is challenging, especially when these needs are medically necessary such as gluten-free options. By working with your caterer to ensure the gluten-free options are safe, separated, and contain a variety, all guests can enjoy a delicious catered meal safely.