Have you ever noticed that you can have the best entertainment, venue, décor and creative but if the main course is overcooked that’s all you will hear about? Eating is one of our primal needs according to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and it is the base of any event that lasts more than two hours. After more than a decade in the business events industry, I truly believe that food can make or break an event.
As event planners, one of our big focus on the planning side is dietary requirements. With time, we realise that apart from legitimate religious constraints and medical allergies, there is also a myriad of new dietaries emerging. Take vegetarians for example. Some don’t eat anything that grows in the soil, some only are on Tuesdays, and some will eat a different amount of protein at different times of the day… I remember hearing about flexitarian and asking myself, “Aren’t some of these comments in the dietary section more related to “diet” and not requirements?”
Question to my fellow event professionals: how far should we go?
There is no doubt that healthier coffee breaks, breakfasts and lunches are the trend. More and more of our hotel partners will have cold pressed juices, fresh fruits, muesli bars, egg whites omelettes and avocado toasts on top (or instead) of the traditional bacon and eggs, spring rolls, candy bars and muffins. Hopefully it will be more a movement than simply ‘’in fashion”.
Some are resisting this change, some are following it, some are innovating. At a recent hotel sales mission in Singapore, Grand Hyatt broke all codes and instead of the traditional lavish buffet, they went for a plant based spread. That, was a statement.
Nobody was sure about it but the vast majority of guests’ feedback was outstanding. The diversity, the quality, the presentation, from beetroot burgers to Indian vegetarian, dips, salads, fruits, it was a full plant based buffet that proved that not only it is possible to design a full vegetarian or vegan menu, but it is first and foremost, delicious! That’s how you shake things up!
Shipping scallops from Boston, lamb from New Zealand, vegetables from Australia, is that really necessary? How many of our caterers and hotels source their ingredients in a sustainable way? Is the real organic only in Oceania? Couldn’t we source from other nearby countries with the same level of quality?
Pointing fingers is a bit easy. Our partners are not solely responsible to drive the change, we should ask for it. If I don’t ask my caterer what they do with the leftovers, if I don’t take steps to donate untouched food to associations, shelters, staff or whoever needs it, then I am as guilty of waste as anyone on the food chain! It’s by asking the question that awareness will increase, that our partners will put measures and processes in place to answer our concerns and questions.
That’s exactly what happened with sharks' fins a few years ago, as long as you keep giving business to the restaurant who serve that, you encourage it in a way. So as much as I am a compromising person, if you serve sharks' fins, I won’t bring my guests to you.
Being choosy on sourcing and waste management and reducing protein intake does sound like a first world problem, but is it really?
A more responsible, sustainable consumption will benefit the next generations, but it starts today. It starts with you vegans, vegetarians, flexitarians, or folks who just enjoy eating and don’t necessarily make it a statement to eat beef or not.
Driving the change starts with you. Create the opportunity, shake things up and be responsible in your food/caterer sourcing and… in filling your dietary requirements!
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