When you’re shopping around for a gluten-free caterer for your party or wedding, it’s okay to ask “dumb questions” or lots of questions. This is one area that is crucial to making your day a success. Caterers are used to getting plenty of questions about dietary accommodations, so don’t be shy in an interview with a caterer.
Whether you’ll be having separate gluten-free dishes or an exclusively gluten-free spread, here are some essential questions to ask a potential caterer to make sure they check all the boxes before you hire them.
1. Do you have certification or training through a celiac disease support group?
If the caterer has gluten-specific certification or training, this means they have made an effort to create options that use gluten-free ingredients prepared in a way that prevents cross-contamination. If the caterer in question is not certified, don’t despair. Some are more attentive to the details of preparing a safe gluten-free meal than others.
2. I/my guests need to avoid anything with wheat, barley or rye and most oats. This includes flour, breading, soy sauce and seasoning that might contain flour. Do you have a menu that can accommodate this?
It’s best to explain exactly what foods you aren’t able to eat rather than assuming a caterer will know all the ins and outs of a gluten-free diet.
3. What food choices do you recommend, based on my dietary needs?
Although you may have a specific menu in mind, ask for suggestions first. Some types of cuisine are easier to make gluten-free than others.
4. Is there a price difference between gluten-free meals and meals with gluten?
Some caterers may charge more for gluten-free options than their regular fare.
5. How many gluten-free events have you catered?
It’s important to know whether this is your caterer’s first attempt at gluten-free meal preparation or if they’re a seasoned pro.
6. Can you provide me with references from other gluten-free events you have catered?
If the caterer has experience catering gluten free, don’t hesitate to ask for references and reach out to them. They can let you know if there were any red flags or, if they had a wonderful experience, put your mind at ease with a glowing recommendation.
7. Are fried foods made in a dedicated gluten-free fryer?
It’s crucial for a caterer to understand cross-contamination and how to avoid it.
8. Are gluten-free items prepared in a separate, dedicated area using dedicated pots, pans and utensils that are cleaned throughly between uses?
Again, cross-contamination is perhaps the single biggest concern when you are combining foods with and without gluten.
9. Do you use whole foods or pre-packaged products?
Whole foods are typically safer than pre-packaged products, where it can be less certain whether products have traces of gluten. Whole foods mean your caterer has more control over what’s in your food.
10. Do you have experience with gluten-free baking?
If not, consider ordering your cake from a gluten-free bakery that specializes in sweet GF baked goods. If the dessert is the star of the show, you want to make sure it’s spectacular.
11. How do you indicate which foods are gluten free?
If you are having both gluten and gluten-free options, find out how the caterer will let guests know which is which.
12. How will you avoid cross-contamination while serving?
If you are having both gluten and gluten-free options, this is especially important if you will have stations or buffets. Passed hors d’oeuvres and plated dinners are typically a safer option to avoid cross-contamination since the servers have more control.
13. Can you accommodate other dietary restrictions?
If you or your guests have other allergies or are kosher, vegan, dairy-free, etc., find out if other accommodations can easily be made.
14. Do you do food tastings?
If possible, taste the food before it is served to all your guests. If your caterer can provide several options for you to try, even better.
15. Do you provide alcoholic beverages? Gluten-free beer and cocktails?
If your caterer will be supplying alcohol, find out if they have gluten-free beer options and whether they are aware of what alcohol contains gluten.