Over the last decade, accommodating food allergies and special diet requests has become par for the course when it comes to menu planning – gluten-free, nut-free, sugar-free … the list goes on.
Most caterers are happy to modify a menu or create alternative dishes for guests with food sensitivities or restrictions. The key is proactive communication between planner, guests, caterer and venue.
Check out these food specialists ready to help you cater smart:
Special dietary requests are definitely far more frequent than in the past, say the pros at Presidential Gourmet Fine Catering. In the last few months alone they’ve custom-designed several menus, or modified their regular offering, in catering multi-course vegan dinners, gluten-free hors d’oeuvres and food stations, and meals that are either low-carb, diabetic-friendly, nut-free and more, all while maintaining their bespoke attention to detail and taste. The caterer also embraces a green philosophy with a commitment to using sustainable foods, local whenever possible, and environmentally friendly practices and product.
As a preferred caterer of venues such as the Fairmount Royal York Hotel and Arcadian Court, PR Creative Caterers is COR certified by the Kashruth Council of Canada. Whether supplying only a few special meal requests or orchestrating an entire event, the company delivers the strict standards of kosher menu planning, ingredients, preparation and serving. Along with creating delicious and elegantly plated cuisine within the scope of Jewish dietary laws, PR also accommodates special requests including gluten-free, nut-free and other food allergies.
For Herbivore Lovers
The descriptive tagline “hyper-local super-awesome organic plant-powered food” pretty much says it all about the culinary focus at Feel Good Guru, a cute Queen Street West take-out resto across from Trinity Bellwoods Park. Here, healthy, flavourful vegan and raw delicacies run the gamut of nutrient-rich salads and soups to inventive wraps, stews and buckwheat and veggie-noodles along with a “liquid farmacy” of pure, fresh-pressed fruit and vegetable juices and smoothies. The shop does boxed picnics, and caters office dining and special events of up to 500 people. When feasible, delivery within a 20-mile radius is by bike.
It’s a toss up between the cheesecake and the carrot cake, says Ilana Kadonoff, of her favourite dessert that her commercial vegan bakery, Sweets from the Earth, produces. The company has a full line of flavour-bursting, decadent treats – cookies, cupcakes, squares and more – that are as delicious as they are healthy — all natural, plus egg-dairy-gluten-free, and kosher-certified. Two separate facilities safeguard preparations in either a dairy-egg-peanut-nut-free environment or a strict dairy-egg-wheat-gluten-free setting. While supplying skids of packaged baked goods to retailers, Kadonoff also welcomes custom event orders, from stocking sweet tables to supplying goodies wrapped in custom packaging for branded takeaways.
Get The Scoop
Hotel Gelato has your dessert back when it comes to meeting special diet requests with an extensive flavour range of melt-in-mouth gelatos and sorbets. Lower in calories and fat than ice cream, the mid-town café’s gelato masters also whip up daily batches that are gluten-free, vegan, sugar-free, dairy-free and egg-free. Order up event-size tubs for delivery or hire Hotel Gelato’s cute portable gelato cart that holds an assortment of up to six flavours. The espresso bar-eatery’s elegant, chic setting with Philippe Starck ghost chairs can also host private events of up to 40. Along with delicious baked goods with dietary-conscious options there are fresh, tasty meal offerings including healthy salads and sandwiches.
Healthy Road Show
It’s hard to miss the shockingly bright lime colour of Karma ChaMEALeon, the only food truck wheeling vegan good eating around city streets, festivals and private events. Don’t let the menu, or the great taste, fool you … there’s nary an animal byproduct to be found. Philly Cheese Steaks feature thinly sliced house-made seitan (wheat gluten) steak marinated in mushroom gravy, the Sunshine Burger, a generous, fully dressed soy-free veggie pattie, and Chili Fries, hand-cut potatoes topped with chunky veggie chili. Gluten-free options are also available. For weddings and special events, the truck’s catering menu takes curbside food upscale with items such as beetroot ravioli with cashew ricotta cheese. Carbon credits help offset emissions and all dishware and cutlery are fully compostable and recyclable.
A Bi-food Offering
A giant wood-burning oven is pretty much the sole source of cooking goodness at Woodlot, a cozy resto-bakery in Little Italy. Here, two menus play up the rustic comfort of Canadiana cuisine – one for carnivores and one for vegetarians. “It’s never difficult to make delicious food with vegetables,” says Chef David Ham. The kitchen also accommodates gluten-free and vegan diners. The bare-bones industrial-casual setting has a communal table for 14 perched in front of the open kitchen with steel stairs leading up to the upstairs dining loft seating 44. Private buy-out is available.
Pass The Chocolate
According to Etienne Gravel, owner of Daniel Le Chocolat Belge, it’s better to use gluten-free chocolate in a chocolate fountain – it provides a more consistent texture and flow. The west-end chocolate shop, which, by the way, rents event-size fountains, is also a haven for sweet tooths who require their bonbons gluten-free, dairy free, sugar-free or organic. In addition to its collection of whipped cream-butter-cacao-plus collection, a wide assortment of diet-sensitive truffles, filled chocolates and choco-covered fruit is available daily or for special order and gift boxing. Custom wrap chocolate bars and shapes in your event branding.
Serving its Junction-neighbourhood walk-in locals and wholesale orders, vegan and gluten-free bakery Bunner’s Bake Shop offers decadent allergen-free treats (sans wheat, dairy, soy, gluten, eggs and refined sugars). The bakery, bursting with fresh-daily baked goodies of breads, cinnamon buns, cakes, muffins, pies, tarts and more, also caters events and trade shows. A selection of savouries includes veggie-filled pockets and mini-nibblies, perfect for tasty, health-conscious canapés. Stoke energy at meeting breaks with signature cookie the Supersonic, packed full of organic, protein-rich seeds, cranberries and dark chocolate.
While there isn’t a super huge selection of allergy-sensitive alcohol, there are a few brands that offer options for stocking event bars. For gluten-free brewskies, there’s locally produced Snowman Brewing Co. and Nickel Brook Brewery as well as imports such as Bard’s Tale Beer Company and Lakefront Brewery. For guests who prefer their wines and liquor local, preservative-free and crafted using earth-friendly, sustainable practices, there are certified organic wines from Frogpond Farm and small-batch, signature spirits including an all-natural vodka from Dillon’s Distillers, both Niagara-based producers.