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Old 05-19-2006, 04:39 AM   #1
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Catered parties questions

One of the recipes that I want to make has 1/3 cup ground walnuts in it and I am not sure what the proper protocol would be.

Should I place a note on the tray stating that nuts are in the dish? The dish is a chicken nugget dish with parmesan cheese, nuts, etc. and the recipe really sounds good to me but am really worried about allergies.

Should I replace the nuts with something else? If so, what?

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Old 05-19-2006, 04:57 AM   #2
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I would make sure that the dish is clearly marked as 'containing nuts' - or just leave out the nuts altogether, if you are really worried.

If I was worried about nut allergies, I would also worry that if things had been zapped in a processor, some nut residue might have found its way into other dishes by accident and this might make me decide not to serve any dish with nuts as an ingredient.
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Old 05-19-2006, 05:34 AM   #3
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There's a huge debate about this in the 'industry'. Some folks are of the 'buyer beware' philosophy, feeling that if a person has allergies, it is up to them to ask if a dish has nuts in it. Others feel it is the food preparer's responsibility to either prepare all dishes w/o nuts, or label them, as you suggested.

Instead of labelling just the one dish, which would just 'point up' the fact that it contains nuts, could make little cards for each dish to describe them, like on a restaurant menu, that would give a main ingredients lits. Or - make up a pretty 'menu' using a nice font on your computer, maybe frame it and stand it on an easel 'frame' at the head of the buffet table - I've done that, and it works really nicely! That way, you're not calling attention to just one dish, but to all of your works of art!
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Old 05-19-2006, 07:59 AM   #4
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Whatever way you choose, I would definately make it known what dishes include nuts - especially if they are not visible, as your ground walnut recipe. I know you would feel awful if someone became ill or had a reaction because of something they ate at your party. Just my opinion, though.
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Old 05-19-2006, 08:07 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by marmalady
There's a huge debate about this in the 'industry'. Some folks are of the 'buyer beware' philosophy, feeling that if a person has allergies, it is up to them to ask if a dish has nuts in it. Others feel it is the food preparer's responsibility to either prepare all dishes w/o nuts, or label them, as you suggested.
I think that any responsible person in this day and age would want to make sure they pointed this out. Sure it really is the "buyers" responsibility to make sure they don't eat anything they shouldn't, but that does not mean that the preparer needs to make it difficult for them. Nut allergies are very serious and can and do result in death. How hard it is to point out that nuts were used?

OK I am off my soapbox

Will you be printing up lables for each dish? If so, maybe you could make the name of the dish something like chicken nugget's with parmesan and walnuts?
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Old 05-19-2006, 08:38 AM   #6
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I have decided since we will be having other people help plate the food that I don't want to chance cross contamination so I am going to leave the ground nuts out. I think I will just add a few more crackers to the crust and leave it at that. I would (and so would my niece) be horrified if somebody ended up sick because of something that I made.

Hmmm I wonder how sesame seeds would go with cracker/parm cheese crusted chicken? Would add the crunch that the missing nuts will take away.
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Old 05-19-2006, 08:43 AM   #7
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Sesame seeds would be a great addition.
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Old 05-19-2006, 11:42 AM   #8
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"[quote=GB]I think that any responsible person in this day and age would want to make sure they pointed this out. Sure it really is the "buyers" responsibility to make sure they don't eat anything they shouldn't, but that does not mean that the preparer needs to make it difficult for them. Nut allergies are very serious and can and do result in death. How hard it is to point out that nuts were used?

OK I am off my soapbox "

Most restaurants do describe dishes in their menus, GB, and they work really hard to ensure nothing slips by. The caveat is that sometimes situations do happen, like something getting processed in a food processor that has just ground nuts in it w/o being cleaned - not everyone in the kitchen is a food scientist!

When I was doing a lot of catering, I always asked the client as I was making up the menu, if anyone had allergies, and to what. We then tried to work around those, or make sure the guest knew which dishes had foods in them they shouldn't eat.

I agree with you - it is a serious issue - but if food preparers do what they can, outside of describing on menus, trying to keep other foods away from allergen causing foods, then it is ultimately up to the person with the allergies to ascertain if they can eat something or not. If you're in a restaurant, the chef or manager is always available to ask questions, and at most catering events, (unless it's a 'drop off'), the caterer or staff will also be on site to answer questions.

The flip side of kitchen irresponsibility is customer irresponsibility. I was catering a 300 person wedding reception, food was waaay over the top - one of the things they had set up was a $3000 raw bar it was totally awesome. Well, one of the guests had a shellfish allergy - KNEW he had a shellfish allergy, but 'just couldn't resist' sampling a shrimp. He ended up with a severe anaphalactic reaction, EMS was summoned and he went to the hospital unconscious. Ruined the entire reception for everyone. Should the server have refused to serve him the shrimp? Don't think so!

PS - Edited to say I'd be interested to hear IC's comments re the issue!
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Old 05-19-2006, 11:58 AM   #9
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I completely agree with everything you just said here Marm
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Old 05-19-2006, 12:48 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IcyMist
One of the recipes that I want to make has 1/3 cup ground walnuts in it and I am not sure what the proper protocol would be.

Should I place a note on the tray stating that nuts are in the dish? The dish is a chicken nugget dish with parmesan cheese, nuts, etc. and the recipe really sounds good to me but am really worried about allergies.

Should I replace the nuts with something else? If so, what?
I would not put notes/labels on dishes re ingredients, etc., or substitute anything - catered party or not. IMO, it's just tacky. You can't 'cater' to every individual's health/allergy problems. It's up to the individual with allergies to ask, what's in the dish. Prepare what you want, or call in a caterer and order the list of foods you want. It is not your responsibility to worry about allergies.

Not clear on why you chose nuts - as there are people allergic to seafood and on and on. You can't replace/sub out everything - or there will be no food/libations.

I've attended catered wrap parties on the studio lot, weddings, private parties & buffets -- no one puts notes/labels on dishes. I think your concern is well meaning, but overly concerned. Enjoy the party & make what you want. I would be more concerned about alcohol consumption & allowing guests to leave drunk, get in their vehicle and hold you responsible.
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Old 05-19-2006, 02:53 PM   #11
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It's the guests responsibility to inform the restaurant, server, hotel, manager, etc. of any allergies, especially because of cross contamination. Unless we know for sure we have a guest who is coming in that is allergic to say, peanuts, there's no way we can guarantee that a knife, cutting board, etc. has not come into contact with any peanuts because peanuts aren't a carrier for food borne illness like raw chicken or pork. If we do know a guest is allergic to a particular item, we either have them pre-order before they come in, or we have the server let them know the items that for sure has not come into contact with anything that they are allergic to. I mean, most menus will list the key ingredients in the dish, but we're not going to put stuff like peanut oil, all purpose flour, etc. in the item's description. The servers are all knowledgeable about any possible allergies in any item (nuts, gluten, shellfish, etc.) on the menu, and are tested on each item if they're a new hire, during menu changes, specials, etc. But again, I can't speak for every restaurant. I've mostly worked in hotels where it's a lot more strict regarding things of this nature.
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Old 05-19-2006, 07:28 PM   #12
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IC, and I've worked kitchens, sad to say, that were a lot less strict! I'm so impressed that your servers have that kind of knowledge!

Mish, I disagree about labelling - especially at a catered, buffet type event. I think everyone - even those w/out allergies, like to know what the dishes are, and I've seen folks peruse the posted menu, then go look for their faves on the table! A menu, done up in a pretty text (or a funky text, depending on the party!), framed and placed on an easel looks nice, and makes it easy for those with allergies to discreetly see what they can and cannot eat.
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Old 05-19-2006, 08:10 PM   #13
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Icy is this a follow-up to the post for preparing dishes (sandwiches) for a wedding reception? Or for an at-home party? Are you planning on making all the dishes yourself, or having some of it catered? Sorry, your post just says party, so it's unclear.

http://www.discusscooking.com/forums...ich-22397.html

Perhaps, if we had more details, we could give you more specific info.

Editing to add:

First, I would start with a plan:

What is the event
How many are attending
Sit-down dinner or buffet
Invitations/RSVPs?
Is there a choice of Main dishes? - Guests can tell you their choice & if they're allergic to anything - Kosher etc.- any special needs - and you can make notes

Before getting into menus, fonts, servers, etc., it helps to have more info.
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Old 05-19-2006, 11:01 PM   #14
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I assume we are still dealing with the niece's wedding reception with a finger food buffet for 200-300 people, IcyMist? No trained servers, nobody knowledgeable about the ingredients of each dish standing behind the table to answer questions about the food, just a few family members scurrying around in a frenzy to keep food on the table.

The main food allergies that you might need to worry about are gluten (wheat), nuts, dairy, shellfish and eggs - seeds can also be an allergin or a definate problem for people with diverticulitis (especially small seeds like poppy, sesame, etc) - and then the Kosher question.

If I remember right, you're down to about 3-4 weeks to finalize the menu and get things together ... you don't have a fixed "sit-down" menu people could select from when they RSVP'ed ... I would guess that if you had an RSVP option you didn't ask about any food restrictions so you could create a special menu for certain people. I would say label the dishes on the buffet table especially if the dish contains one of the main allergens - include info on the dish either in the name of the dish or a description under the name if you are worried about it. One way to accomplish this is with a formal menu posted at the head of the line (name of dish and ingredients where applicable) and then just label each dish with the name where applicable.

That's just what I would do at this stage of the game.
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Old 05-20-2006, 03:01 AM   #15
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IC, and I've worked kitchens, sad to say, that were a lot less strict! I'm so impressed that your servers have that kind of knowledge!
A lot of it depends on the chef, restaurant manager, etc. At every place I've worked at, I've taken it upon myself (if there was no procedure already in place) to create what is called a menu pick-up chart. This pick-up chart lists the name of the menu item, ingredients in the item, preparation method, firing (cooking) times, item description, allergies, and wine pairing. I make each server know it and I give them pop quizzes sometimes whenever they come into the kitchen during their shift.
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Old 05-20-2006, 04:55 AM   #16
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That's fantastic, IC - unfortunately the 2 restaurants I worked had scattered management and even more scattered chefs. Most of my jobs have been catering outfits; some were very good at 'screening' menu items as the planning was taking place; others - well - let's just say they were more interested in watching the pretty women drive by the kitchen windows than they were in the food prep.
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Old 05-20-2006, 07:21 AM   #17
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The main food allergies that you might need to worry about are gluten (wheat), nuts, dairy, shellfish and eggs - seeds can also be an allergin or a definate problem for people with diverticulitis (especially small seeds like poppy, sesame, etc) - and then the Kosher question.
The wheat, dairy and eggs I am not as worried about because people who are allergic to those items are going to have to look out for themselves. I am just mainly concerned about the nuts and seafood. I think I will talk to my sister about making up little labels. ARGGGGGGGGGG I want my mommy, I am too busy to worry about all this stuff.
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Old 05-20-2006, 08:50 AM   #18
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Nuts to the Nuts...
In all seriousness today there are more recognized allergies than we have ever had. I would label the dish to show it has nuts (if you are so inclined), but don't stop using them. When I add nuts at home, in the restaurant or at catered events I rarely put out signage actually pointing out a nut dish. If I am making satays and I am serving a peanut sauce it's pretty obivous. If anything the most prevlant allergy that I have noticed the past two years has been wheat allergies (celiac patients).
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Old 05-20-2006, 08:45 PM   #19
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I made a test recipe of the chicken with sesame seeds and it was delicious. My sister and brother-in-law came over and picked up most of the appetizers that I had prepared for testing and all 3 were hits. One was crackers, fresh parmesan cheese sprinkled on it and then wrapped in half a slice of bacon and baked for 2 1/2 hours. Yummmmmmmy The second was the chicken and I am glad that I made it because I learned that I will have to be careful not to overcook it because it gets brown on the bottom and a little hard. But they were so good. The last appetizer that I tested was one with shrimp, onion, mayo, celery, garlic that you roll up in bread that has been buttered on the outside and flattened and then baked. Again it was a hit. My brother-in-law said that he will announce at the reception that if anyone has any allergies and want to know what is in a dish, just to get in touch with one of us and we will tell them. :)
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Old 05-21-2006, 06:01 AM   #20
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Icy - I'm curious as to how you're going to make all these, store them and transport to the reception hall; the food sounds lovely, but it also sounds a bit perishable - I can see the crackers getting soggy if they sit too long after cooking - is there an oven at the hall? Can you cook the chicken/shrimp roll-ups at the hall? This a LOT of prep work - how much help do you have?
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