Managing the Minutia of Event Menus and an Autoimmune Disease
Eating at a Meeting Podcast Episode 89
Jennifer Johnson, general manager of The Johnson Meetings Group, LOVES her job helping clients achieve their meeting and event vision, including what they eat. With 25+ years experience planning small, intimate gatherings to full blown conferences across the US and internationally, she has planned her fair share of events and managed the minutia of menus for a variety of dietary needs, including her own. Autoimmune disease
In this episode of Eating at a Meeting, Tracy & Jennifer talk about how she manages her own Autoimmune disease — Hashimoto’s Disease — gluten intolerance and having to avoid raw cruciferous vegetables (oral allergy syndrome) while helping create special event for her clients.
What do safe, inclusive & sustainable food and beverage experiences look like to you?
Thinking it through. My biggest pet peeve is asking for a vegetarian soup and finding out its made with chicken broth. I’ve learned to think it through and ask questions. Often times, it helps to talk directly with the Chef or the F&B Manager. Often times, complex dietary needs are more than the CSM should do.
Do you have an example of a situation that negatively effected you and/or other individuals or groups’ food and beverage experience?
Yes! Working with an Indian company, we had a large attendee population who are vegetarian. Hindu vegetarian is a different palate than American vegetarian. A tasting was required to ensure that we had what was working. The Chef was out of his comfort zone and after the first day, we wound up coordinating menu and meal prep with a kitchen utility worker.
What do you wish people knew about what you do?
Its not always fun and glamorous and exciting. Its hard work and repetition and a lot of hurry up and wait. 😀
What is a best practice you use/or have seen to create safe and inclusive F&B experiences?
Giving attendees a check box option on the reg form (vegetarian, vegan, GF, seafood allergy, no red meat, no pork, Halal, Kosher). Then if your needs are not addressed, please specifically write out what you need: _____________________. I also add a disclaimer that Keto, Atkins, etc. are a dietary choice not a dietary restriction.
What is your favorite food and your favorite drink?
Tomatoes are my favorite food and I will send them back in a heartbeat for not being ripe or proper.
French Champagne or Sparkling Wine is my favorite beverage! I also enjoy a Flat White Coffee.
Eating at a Meeting is part of the Nitty Grits Podcasts network