For the 2023 Steampunk Festival in Dimboola we organised and hosted a Five Course Meal on the Friday Night, which was paired up with Fossey's Gin. The event was held at the VRI hall, which we were familiar with since our previously hosted lunch there. We were confident of the old kitchen's capabilities to prepare just under 500 plates of food.
As the bookings were not done through me I was told of one dietary (pescatarian) which had me thinking - We've got over 90 people! There has to be more dietaries. So I spoke with staff during the planning stages and we designed our menu so it could be simply modified if there were some gluten free friends turning up.
- The bread for arrival was replaced with gluten free bread
- The herbed crackers were replaced with gluten free crackers
- For the arancini, normally crumbed and deep fried - we left some rolled that were uncoated and pan fried separately
- Gluten-Free pasta was cooked to replace the Warrigal green and goats cheese ravioli
- The Beef Cheek & Polenta were gluten free, so sorted for that dish
- The Lemon Posset dessert with the Gluten-Free Wattleseed Shortbread (link to recipe here) was made completely gluten free
But wait for it…. We had a vegan friend turn up, I saw her walk through the door when people were arriving and ( I won't share what thoughts went through my head) but hastily headed straight out to the kitchen and let the staff know. We were unprepared for this and had to think on our feet, and sent one of the staff back to my house to gather up some more produce and supplies.
Now a Vegetarian, we could have smashed it out of the park, but vegan…… with no notice, we would have prepared something spectacular. My friend Kylie is a vegetarian and was put straight on what she could come up with to cover the dishes which allowed my focus to stay on the serving up of the 5 courses.
Our Vegan friend only ended up with 3 mediocre dishes, and we couldn't scrounge anything up for her dessert being off site and out of my kitchen. Throughout the evening, we chatted with the vegan guest, and she was completely understanding of the situation. I spoke with her at the end of the evening and worked out for her to get her money refunded.
This was not our Vegan friends fault as there was an unfortunate breakdown in communication with the bookings which happened. Mistakes always happen in the kitchen and in service but it takes dedication and experience to overcome them and meet the needs of our customers.
So if there is anything to take from this blog my friends,
Please please ensure if you have dietaries that you always let the kitchen know as soon as possible. So we don't have to run around like crazy headless chooks. Mistakes happen in the kitchen and during service, but with experience and dedication, we can overcome them and meet the needs of our customers.