Early in my celiac days, when I was still in my gluten-free diapers, I was invited to golf-outing charity. I figured with transportation time included, I’d be gone max 6 hours. So I did what most celiacs do: I panicked. Just kidding. I ate right before I left and then brought enough snacks with me to tie me over. When the round was done and I shot my usual 36 under par, I was hungry and ready to go home.
Little did I know, there was a banquet afterwards. Yikes! So I did what most celiacs do: I panicked. This time I’m not quite kidding. I wanted to pass on it, as I knew it would be a long 3 hours for me. But I was an invited guest and thought it would be rude. So I stayed. And it sucked. I went up and down and food line and there was nothing I could have, except maybe the veggies. I asked to speak with the catering manager to see if anything was safe, and he had that glaze in his eyes that said “I don’t know and I don’t really care.” So I sat there and drank my water for 3 hours (which actually seemed like 13 hours.)
This leads me to the latest Dear Gluten Dude. Not how to avoid such a situation but instead if you were in charge of planning the banquet, what questions would you ask and what advice would you give to the catering company to avoid cross-contamination as much as possible. Here is the email:
First thank you for being a wonderful source for myself and others. I love your honesty and the support you give, and your book was fantastic!
I need a little advice. My office hosts a conference (average attendance is 500 people) every year. I am being pulled in to assist now, and working on planning next years conference. After he witnessed me experience a bad cross contamination situation, my boss asked me to write up something for the hotel/banquet services to verify they understand Celiac, and other food allergies…especially the cross contact issue.
They have always asked in the past and the hotel would assure them they know and they would take care of everything and everyone. He just took their word for it, but now realizes we need to ask more questions or even provide a list of requirements when handling food. Everyone who attends is asked about food allergies and their information is noted. We’ve never had an issue (to our knowledge) of anyone getting sick, but we want to go a step further and ensure things are safe.
Sooo…what is your advice for questions/requirements for the hotel/banquet services? Is there something else I am missing in this situation?
Oh, and they do eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the conference everyday for 4 days.
Dang…that’s a heck of a responsibility. If it were me, I’d panic. Yes, kidding again. But seriously, trying to keep 12 meals as safe as possible for those with celiac disease is not an easy task. Since I know absolutely nothing about the food service side of banquets, I thought I throw this out there to the community.
What questions should she ask and what requirements should she request/demand? Leave a comment below. Thanks.