Catering to Gluten-Free Guests at Your Wedding Reception

Forklift Catering's Kristen Campbell offers some menu tips.

Forklift Catering's gluten-free shrimp and grits passed hors-d'oeuvre

Forklift Catering’s gluten-free shrimp and grits passed hors-d’oeuvre.

Gluten-free is an increasingly common dining request, including the wedding crowd’s. Kristen Campbell, director of Event Sales and Planning at Somerville’s Forklift Catering, has seen a definite upswing in gluten-free requests for reception menus. Whether it’s one or two options to an entire gluten-free menu, the number one thing is to have a conversation with your caterer about the importance of staying GF. Here are Campbell’s tips for ensuring the easiest planning.

Choose a caterer with a “scratch” kitchen.

Using whole foods instead of processed products, these chefs can say with utmost confidence if something is gluten-free or not. “If a caterer uses some or all pre-packaged products, there’s often no way to know for sure if something is truly gluten-free,” Campbell explains.

Some cuisines lend themselves better than others for gluten-free.

Middle-Eastern/Mediterranean cuisines lend themselves well to gluten-free menus because they have lots of fresh herbs and oils, along with meats, pickles, and cheeses. Many of the dishes offer naturally gluten-free options while also being rich in protein. Campbell points to ancient grains (think: quinoa, millet, teff, and buckwheat) and legumes like beans, lentils, and peas making a resurgence on the reception scene. On the other hand, Campbell cites Asian cuisine as particularly difficult because of the hidden wheat, particularly in any pre-made items.

Think about a raw bar or sushi.

Raw bars are a fantastic way to naturally incorporate a gluten-free station. Sushi, although doable, is a little trickier. “In addition to soy sauce, the sushi rice seasoning or wasabi might have gluten,” Campbell warns. That’s not to say that gluten-free sushi isn’t a possibility, but make sure you’re working with a reputable source who understands the importance of your dietary restriction before committing to a sushi station.

Passed hors d’oeuvres and plated dinners are the safest options.

This puts the control into the hands of the kitchen and, with assistance from the servers, they can communicate what is safe and ensure there isn’t cross-contamination. “While stations and buffets may seem like a good choice, once the control is placed into the hands of the guests, there’s no guarantee that an errant crostini crumb doesn’t fall onto the cheese platter or a kid doesn’t dip their pita chip into the hummus,” Campbell says. For those with a gluten-free sensitivity or preference, this isn’t a problem. For those suffering from celiac disease, this could have severe consequences.

Yes, a gluten-free cake can be delicious.

There are several bakers around Boston that can make gorgeous gluten-free wedding cakes, such as I Dream of Jeanne Cakes, Celia Cakes (they only do gluten-free cakes), and Konditor Meister. If you want to have GF as an alternative to the main cake, consider serving gluten-free cupcakes to concerned guests.

Getting married? Start and end your wedding planning journey with Boston Weddings' guide to the best wedding vendors in the city.