11. Do you find chefs are willing to make different pastas like Zucchini and Sweet potatoes?

More and more chefs are becoming willing to do such dishes. Be upfront with them when your planning the menus and ask for creative items. Make sure these items are outlined on your BEOs so it does not get lost or forgotten in the menu preparation stage. All it takes is a spiralizer to do make it.

12. What can you recommend to change the standard chicken meal?

Chicken is safe and budget conscious protein to serve everyone since pork is avoided by many following a religious based diet, others have allergies to fish and shellfish and beef can get pricey. However, it can get a bit boring as the standard fall back. Talking to your chefs about being creative with chicken is the first step. Let them know what you’ve served in the past and what you do not want to serve. Adding seasonal vegetables to the meal can help.

13. What is flexitarian?

A flexitarian is an individual who chooses to reduce the amount of animal protein they consume on a daily or weekly basis. Another term for it is reducetarian. Think Meatless Monday (no animal proteins on Monday) or VB6 (eat vegan before 6 p.m.). Offering these types of dishes can help reduce food costs at meeting and events. But, you also need to make sure they are hearty meals.

14. Could you please put the "Note here if you have a food allergy and we recognize the need to create a safe environment for you, etc." on your website? It's the wording she said to put on the registration.

Letting your attendees know how you’re handling their needs is important too. As is, letting them know that while you’re working with your catering partners to create safe and delicious meals for them, you cannot guarantee that the storage, preparation and serving environment is not a certified-free from environment. Click this link (www.thrivemeetings.com/samplecontractclauses) to download sample clauses your event websites.

15. Did she just mention fish skin?

Yes, I did mention fish skin. Although made from fruits, vegetables or grains, brewmasters, distillers and winemakers may filter their beverage item to remove proteins, yeasts, cloudiness, “off” flavors and colorings, and/or other organic particles. These “fining agents” used before bottling may be made from animal-derived products. Common fining agents derived from animals and used in the production of wine include egg albumen (derived from egg whites), casein (milk protein), blood and bone marrow, chitin (fiber from crustacean shells), fish oil, gelatin (protein from boiling animal parts), and isinglass (gelatin from fish bladder membranes). Check out barnivore.com for a directory of vegan and vegetarian alcohols to serve at your next event.

16. I think hotels should re-evaluate portion sizes as they over prepare so much even over the standard 5%.

Agree! Portion sizes in the United States are excessive. This exacerbates health issues we have and adds to excessive food waste. Knowing your numbers and how much food was eaten at past events, you can help chefs better plan for your event. Let them know in advance that you want smaller portion sizes and be sure to order five to 10 percent less than the number of people attending, especially if a buffet. If serving plated meals, take into account the percentage of no-shows from previous events and look at hotel arrival/departure dates of all attendees to help calculate. 

Still the age-old question comes up - what is the best way to determine quantities for groups?

Agree! Portion sizes in the United States are excessive.

17. Any suggestions on how to have the conversation with hotels about food counts? Seems like there is always so much food, but it's challenging to get hotels to serve less (and help reduce waste).

Agree! Portion sizes in the United States are excessive.