Everyone is eyeing your gorgeous wedding cake and they can’t wait to dig into dinner before hitting the dance floor at your reception – surely you want all of them to be able to enjoy what’s on the menu. Accommodating food restrictions and allergies, such as gluten intolerance, is something to consider when planning your wedding cuisine.
As more people are diagnosed with Celiac Disease (a reaction to gluten: a type of protein found in grains, wheat, barley and rye), and become aware of gluten sensitivity, the trend for gluten-free options at weddings has significantly increased in recent years (along with many other dietary requests), and caterers have taken note.
One of SB&G’s preferred caterers, Catering Works, estimates that prior to 2010, gluten-free options were rarely requested (perhaps 2% of weddings); now, gluten-free demands are on the rise and closer to 10% for their business.
Luckily, a good caterer is highly capable and willing to create custom menus for each couple, tailored to their theme, style, guest needs, as well as the couple’s individual personalities. Every couple is different, therefore, a custom approach is best when planning for a gluten-free affair.“When planning a menu that caters to gluten-free needs, yet also meets the overall objective and pleases several palates, we ensure that many items are free of gluten by nature, such as vegetables, fruits, and protein items that are free of wheat (modified food starch is often a hidden culprit),” explains Lorin Laxton, VP and Marketing Director at Catering Works.
In some cases, the couple may want a special meal just for them. “This works especially well in a plated dinner situation, as in a sense, everyone’s plate is customized to their preference by way of pre-selecting their dinner via the RSVP,” shares Laxton. “In other cases, couples want to incorporate a broad range of flavors that appeal to their gluten-free as well as non-gluten free guests. Other times, the couple may have a smaller wedding planned, such as an intimate family affair, where their close relatives and friends are already accustomed to all gluten-free meals, which also works well.”
Some of Catering Works most popular gluten-free items include cranberry almond stuffed chicken; tilapia tacos; corn cakes with duck confit; dates wrapped in bacon; melon prosciutto champagne shooters; thai chicken skewers; and savory meatloaf “cupcake” with mashed potato.Every recipe has a specific cost associated with it based on the ingredients. Keep in mind that in some cases, additional costs apply for gluten-free items; these typically relate to recipes that substitute more expensive flour substitutes, such as almond flour. Still, many gluten-free items have no additional cost. “We always do our best to guide the bride and groom to choices that meet their budget, whether or not they request gluten free items,” Laxton remarks.
One of the biggest challenges in a gluten-free wedding menu is the cake. While there are many gluten-free cake recipes, they don’t always appeal to every guest. In some instances, it is nearly impossible to tell the difference between one made with or without gluten, so brides may choose to just order a gluten-free cake to be on the safe side. Another more customized option would be to make a gluten free tier or some gluten-free cupcakes or other small desserts to accommodate gluten-free guests.
During Catering Works menu consultation process, they make a point to address dietary requests. “That way, in case the couple has not already identified this, they will at least be thinking about it, and perhaps put some feelers out to ensure everyone is covered,” Laxton suggests. They also provide menu cards for each event, detailing basic ingredients and flavors in the recipes and clearly identifying if the item is gluten-free or contains common food allergens.The best thing about customizing a catering menu today is that you don’t have to sacrifice taste or quality to please everyone. Just about any recipe can be modified for gluten-free needs, as well as be presented in its regular form. Just be sure to request this in advance as it does require more preparation on the part of your caterer.
Photos: Neil Boyd Photography