California Meetings + Events Magazine

How to navigate the needs of attendees with food allergies

Meeting planners across the nation have reported a significant increase in specific dietary requests in recent years, and not just for vegetarian or vegan guests. No matter what the reasons—religious beliefs, medical restrictions, concern for animal welfare or simply a desire to eat healthier—we as hospitality professionals need to understand the basic guidelines for the most prevalent requests and plan for them accordingly.

New Venue Spotlight: Hard Rock Hotel & Casino

There’s a new vibe on Lake Tahoe’s south shore—and lots of new meeting space to go with it. The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino opened on January 28 in the shell of the former Horizon Casino Resort, just across Highway 50 from Montbleau and next door to Harveys Lake Tahoe. A $60 million top-to-bottom revamp has changed the look of everything in the building, from the 539 guest rooms (including an Elvis suite) to the 14,300 square feet of meeting and convention space.

Signature Drink - Kiwi Margarita

Every year, Richard Sandoval’s La Sandia, a modern Mexican restaurant in the open-air Santa Monica Place, hosts a six-week guacamole festival that highlights regional flavors. To come up with the ingredients, corporate executive chef Patrick Maxey of Richard Sandoval Restaurants and Manny Flores, Sandia’s director of operations, tour Mexico City, Toluca, Oaxaca and the Riviera Maya. They also select one ingredient to feature in a festival cocktail. "This year we chose kiwi, which is used in the Baja guacamole because it’s naturally sweet, bitter and sour all in one punch," Flores says.

The Oddest Requests in the Industry

Just as golfers remember every shot, and anglers love to describe the fish that got away, event folks trade tales about odd requests.

One of the oddest I heard was from a client who asked me to produce a rededication party in a cemetery. I staged a New Orleans-style jazz funeral complete with Percheron horses in mourning attire. An old-time undertaker, a brass band, town officials twirling parasols and participants waving hankies landed the event lots of attention and awards.

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