By Matthew Tolchard, director of sales, The Chesterfield Mayfair
When planning an event you’ll need to think about your menu – theme, cuisine and you’ll need to include at least one vegetarian option for each course you’re serving. Nothing frustrates a vegetarian guest more than feeling excluded during the event because of their dietary requirements. Dishes should be of the same cuisine as those including meat; so if you’re offering a British menu, don’t make the vegetarian option Italian!
When considering vegetarian options, identify dishes from the regular menu that can be adapted to be meat free. Try to avoid the temptation to stick with risotto and pasta dishes; don’t hesitate to be more adventurous and bold with your selections. A simple yet elegant potato pancake cannelloni served with English asparagus, morel mushrooms and parmesan shavings is a perfect example of an inspired vegetarian dish – imaginatively cooked vegetables that are beautifully presented can work just as well as any meat based dish.
Seasonality plays a big part in the quality of vegetarian food, always try and create your menu around ingredients that are in season and therefore looking and tasting their best – using peppers, tomatoes, asparagus and other Summer vegetables will keep your menu seasonal and light whereas using vegetables such as celeriac, pumpkin, leeks and squash keep your menu wholesome and hearty ideal for the Winter months.
Another good idea to diversify vegetarian’s options is to include dishes on the menu that can be adapted to be meat free, so if they don’t like the set vegetarian option they can request for the meat element of the standard dish to be removed. For example if you’re serving a vegetarian mushroom soup starter perhaps include standard starter of Parma ham wrapped asparagus served with a poached egg and hollandaise sauce that can be easily modified to suit a vegetarian. Also try and avoid using dairy products (vegan or non-vegan) in every course, dairy produce is extremely heavy and when used in large quantities can be too rich for some people.
These are just a few key points to consider when creating a menu for an event, it’s just as easy to create inspired and delicious vegetarian food as it is when using meat in a dish providing it is carefully thought out, seasonal and presented beautifully.