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Gino Spano

 Tags: Caterers

If you had to think of the two most important aspects of any successful event, the event planners would probably say the venue or decor while the guests would probably scream “the food and drink!” Something to keep in mind when planning your next event.

Obviously the food at any event is a crucial part of a successful evening—everyone needs to eat—but this task seems to be getting more and more difficult as dietary needs can be all over the map.

In order to deal with this, it’s important to work with a reputable caterer who has experience with a wide variety of dietary needs and restrictions. It takes a lot of skill to pull off such a task successfully, so here are a few ways in which caterers can accommodate guests with special dietary needs: 

1. Vegetarian

Of all the dietary restrictions, vegetarianism is probably one of the easiest for caterers to deal with. That being said, it’s easy to remove or replace meat with something else, but it can be tricky to make a vegetarian meal that actually tastes great. Thankfully, many caterers in the GTA are skilled in the art of veggies.

2. Vegan

Vegan cooking is a slightly harder endeavour than vegetarian cooking because in addition to cutting out the meat, you must also omit all animal products or by-products of any kind. A skilled caterer can deal with this in a few ways; they may prepare their own vegan cuisine, or may out-source it to another company they trust. This can often be the case for vegan desserts as they must be made without any butter or eggs.

3. Halal

Halal certification is very important if there are Muslims on your guest list and if you plan on serving meat at your event. However, this is not a difficult issue for most caterers to work around; with a little advance notice, they can likely order halal certified meat for your event with no problems.

4. Kosher

As with halal certification, kosher cuisine must also meet certain rules described in Jewish dietary law. In addition to rules about how animals are slaughtered, there are also important rules involving, eggs, fish, dairy and other foods. Because of the complex nature of this dietary need, it’s recommended that if your event includes many Jewish guests, you use a catering company who is well experienced in preparing and serving kosher food.

5. Celiac Disease (Gluten-Free)

Celiac disease and gluten-free diets may present one of the more challenging tasks that caterers today are faced with, as gluten is present in a wide variety of foods. However, because this dietary need has recently become more common, many caterers have taken steps to accommodate. Speak with your catering company ahead of time and they’ll likely be able to point out specific dishes that are gluten-free. Many caterers will even have a special gluten-free menu already prepared so you don’t have to make any decisions on your own.

6. Lactose Intolerant

For many, lactose intolerance has been a dietary concern for a long time, so thankfully caterers are generally pretty good at dealing with this restriction. It’s fairly easy from a food preparation standpoint and your caterer will just ensure that no dairy or dairy products are used in the food preparation.

7. Nut Allergies

Nut allergies have become increasingly popular over the past couple of decades, mostly among children, but also among adults. Because nut allergies can be very sensitive, most caterers will often suggest that nuts be excluded from the menu entirely if there is any concern. They should also be able to tell you if their kitchen is a certified nut-free facility or not. The majority of the GTA caterers are not certified nut-free facilities. Be sure to find out whether your guests’ nut allergies are severe or if they have anaphylactic reactions, as the caterers will need to address this very differently. Food will need to be prepared in a safe and nut-free area, packaged separately, and all byproducts must be checked. Any food made for someone with a severe anaphylactic allergy to nuts, tree nuts, and even soy will only be properly addressed by caterers with an abundance of experience.

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Gino Spano

Starting with roots in a kitchen at 14 years old, he worked his way up the ranks and by the young age of 17 was responsible for daily events of 50 to 600 people. Gino continued to use his talents to work in catering, banquet and restaurant kitchens across the GTA. His love for Italian, French and Asian cuisine paired with his wide variety of knowledge brought him success in his new venture at Seventh Heaven in 2001. Over the past 12 years, he has cooked many meals for social events, corporate events and government officials. His love for new challenges brought him into corporate sales where he and the Seventh Heaven team won Best Catered Event for Canadian Linen’s “The Great White North” – Facility Grand Opening in 2009.
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