The New Secret Ingredient To Menu Planning: Sensitivity


Join us in welcoming guest blogger, Wendy Pashman. Wendy is the owner and founder of Entertaining Company, a full-service catering company based in Chicago, Illinois. For 20 years, she and her team have been creating dishes that inspire the palate! We feel extremely privileged to have Wendy as a member of our expert panel on Diva With A Fork and look forward to sharing her passion for cuisine with you. Today’s article is helpful to anyone planning a life-cycle event or just enjoys entertaining at home with family and friends.



When the pace quickens on developing culinary outlines for everything from weddings, to galas,to  residential  holiday private events, we know we are in the fall, our favorite season.  As always, the preliminary questions we ask clients center on food likes and dislikes and, now, quickly transition to questions related to food sensitivities. “A little bit should not matter” doesn’t work and we culinary professionals have to be savvy to the needs of the Gluten free, Nut free, Dairy Free and Meat Free sitting at our tables. In fact, at Entertaining Company, we have had so many requests, we’ve labeled our offerings “Free Style.”  We want our client sipping and savoring the holiday season without deprivation.



Increasingly the sensitive host inquires as to food preferences. “ Coming  for Thanksgiving dinner, great! Meat, okay? Shellfish? Eggs? Nuts? Dairy? Wheat?” The caterer’s perennial question of “what will your Thanksgiving guests enjoy” has morphed from the delicious to the digestible.  Otherwise, imagine presenting with bursting pride and accomplishment (whether catered or homemade)  a beautiful  dinner of roast turkey, gravy, apricot and mushroom bread stuffing, celery root, buttery mashed potatoes, baked brussel sprouts with pistachio crumbs, cranberry pecan orange relish followed by old fashion pecan pie with cinnamon ice cream, only to find out one guest is vegan and dairy free (no turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, pecan pie and ice cream), another nut free (no relish, no brussel sprouts, no pecan pie), another gluten free ( no gravy, bread stuffing, pecan pie).



How to satisfy the diversity while creating harmony at the table? We recommend a sprinkle of sensitivity!


 “Free Style” Thanksgiving ~ The New Tradition


Starters to Include


Caprese Skewers of Fresh Bufalo Mozzarella, Tomato and Basil

Drizzled with Balsamic Vinaigrette (Some without Balsamic for the GF Guests)


Endive Leaf with Matchstick Jicama, Clementine, Shrimp and Lime Vinaigrette  




Roast Turkey Served with GF Gravy (Substitute Sweet Rice Flour for Regular Flour)

Gluten Free Cornbread with Michigan Apples and Thyme

Hardy Dairy Free Vegetable Tian of Grilled Red, Green and Yellow Bell Peppers, Eggplant and Tomato (Great for Vegetarian Entrée)

Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes

Cranberry and Orange Nutless Relish




Wine Poached Pears Stuffed with Macerated Apricots, Port and Ginger, Cinnamon Whipped Cream (For those “Doing” Dairy)


Enjoy & Warm Wishes,




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