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Let them eat cake

(Or maybe not, as it goes)


Feeding your attendees for success

The story goes that Marie Antoinette’s solution for her starving French subjects having no bread was to “let them eat cake”.

Her response was more than a little misguided (and entirely out of touch) and unless you want to come across as both too, you need to carefully consider what food you serve up for your meeting or event attendees, for two core reasons…

  1. Dietary requirements
  2. Nutritional benefit

We’ll take a look at each of these in turn to help you avoid being (metaphorically) beheaded!

Top tip!

If you’re planning on eating alongside your attendees at your meeting or event, be polite and let them be served first, eh?

Dietary Requirements

Two words that’ll trip off the tongue of anyone that’s ever planned an event involving food and beverage; dietary requirements.

Asking people what they do and don’t like to eat isn’t just good manners, it’s fundamental in ensuring you can provide something for each attendee. If you don’t, those that miss out will end up left with a bad taste.

Whether due to an allergy, a personal lifestyle choice (such as being vegetarian or vegan), a requirement of an individual’s faith or religion,  or simply not liking certain things, providing a way to ascertain what your attendees would or would not like to eat is absolutely fundamental if you’re planning on feeding them.

Get in early

It’s important to find out early doors – there’s little point asking what people might like as they sit down for dinner, only to find out you’ve got a room full of vegans about to be presented with a hog roast.

Finding out in advance can be as simple as providing a form as part of your invitation. Where you can, be specific. If you have a menu of options, allowing people to see the specific dishes rather than a more general tick box of likes/dislikes is a better bet. And be sure to include allergens and ingredients as appropriate.

No sit down meal, no problem, right? Wrong!

Even if you’re only serving teas, coffees and snacks, you need to be fully prepared. There’s been a sharp rise in those preferring non-dairy based milk alternatives that will otherwise end up disappointed.

And try explaining that someone’s severe nut allergy isn’t important as they start to have a reaction to the pastries you’ve supplied that have been sat alongside almond croissants.

Nutritional benefits

If being polite and ensuring you provide a positive food and beverage experience for your delegates isn’t enough, then the nutritional benefit of serving the right things should be.

Boiling it down

Nutrition is a vast (and vastly important) topic with an entire science behind it. But boiling this all down for our look into food’s place in meetings and events, the all important essence (or rich jus to continue the food theme) is to remember that food is fuel.

Getting the right mix of components and offering a nutritionally balanced meal will not only support your attendees wellbeing; it’ll fuel them – their bodies and their brains – in the right ways to be as productive as they possibly can be.

Think about it…

For example, you don’t want to fill your Annual Sales Conference attendees up with stodgy, fried food just before trying to fire them up for a high-powered discussion in which you want to harness their creativity to help shape the future strategy of the company… the response you’ll likely get is heavy-lidded eyes, groaning stomachs, and foggy brains.

Instead, offer clean, healthy foods, maybe throwing in some superfoods – smoothies are a great way to offer something delicious and packed full of great nutrients.

The science bit (not really)

You don’t have to have a degree in nutrition to know that you need a balanced offering that incorporates protein, fibre, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (the “healthy fats”), fresh fruit and vegetables.

Doing so will genuinely fuel your attendees in the best possible way and get their neuron’s firing on all cylinders.

Put simply, offer refreshments that can help pep them up, rather than slow them down.

Top tip!

As tempting as it may be, perhaps save the burgers for a time you’re not trying to get incredible business strategy ideas out of your attendees.

If in doubt, give us a shout!

I don’t know if we’ve mentioned, but we love putting together amazing events. And we recognise the importance of food in delivering the best possible experience. Get some of us talking about nutrition and it’s actually hard to get us to stop.

So if you need any support or guidance, get in touch and we’ll happily have a chat about your next meeting or event.

Bon appetit!

Experience is Everything

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Join the Gray Dawes Events team for the Experience if Everything podcast. Each episode we'll be chatting with a different member of the team to get an insight into their experience within the industry and current hot topics in events.

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