"We're only having a small do"
As many of you may know, planning a wedding isn’t always the most straightforward or stress-free journey. Combine this with a bride and groom with particular dietary needs, and want to keep their guests blissfully happy during the festivities, and it has potential for disaster. It is a long day after all, and as a coeliac, I am very aware of the general lack of appeal gluten free dining can bring to a non-sufferer.
Imagine our delight when we were able to combine our love of relaxed dining, the desire to manage waste, and respect the environment with incredible tasting food. The Real Junk Food Project based in Wakefield, West Yorkshire were more than happy to help, and even more interestingly, the head chef and director at the time was also coeliac. So began a completely pain-free exchange of ideas, tasting sessions at their cafe Bear Kitchen, and the eventual acceptance for us of having no idea what would be served to our guests on the day. We knew there would be a salad bar, a bbq, and enough choice for every vegan, vegetarian, meat eater and eco warrior attending, but the finer details remained a mystery.
Gluten free guesting
Having been a humble guest at many weddings over the years after being diagnosed coeliac, the experience of being fed has varied greatly. Many a post-wedding hangover has of course been partly attributed to the free flowing booze, but surely more so, to the unassuming side salad served to me, or sharing platter being long gone by the time its reached my part of the seating plan. I fully understood that catering for so many people in one sitting is complicated enough without having to worry about any anomalies too. I soon became pretty adept at stuffing a packet of crisps or cereal bar into my slightly oversized clutch bag, much to the amusement of the rest of the table. I was so keen not to offend anyone, and these days, most wedding spreads have been very fruitful thanks to some very attentive people, and perhaps caterers that recognise the importance of a good Trip Advisor review.
Having an intolerance when planning our big day led to much consideration for the needs of all our guests, not just the GF VIPs. The Real Junk Food Project catered for 300+ guests in two sittings; the selection of canapés for the day guests, and the street food style second sitting. The barbecue couldn't happen as planned thanks to the Yorkshire weather, but the staff and volunteers powered on through under the eaves.
The real deal with the Junk Food Project
The result was incredible, with so much supply, the range of options just kept on coming. The food was devoured without a hitch, and we were particularly amused by Director and Head Chef Adam Smith's introductory speech about the surplus eats as everyone tucked in. "Do you feel sick yet?" he remarked, and we continued to smile as the real reason for our chosen caterers was revealed. We served food that would have been disposed of that was in fact fresher than some of the food on the supermarket shelves. We wanted to deliver a message of being resourceful, avoiding waste, and being creative with choices; in order to have a positive impact on the environment. And, this could be achieved with gluten free goods. Cooking from scratch and thinking outside the box can lead to interesting results, without any worries about ingesting gluten.
We can't thank The Real Junk Food Project enough for their incredible efforts, and it is a feast we will never forget. We only hope that we hear of more large scale efforts like this in the future, and the world being more careful with consumption. The food was out of this world, and with so much on offer for coeliacs and beyond, I only hope we have another reason to celebrate soon to do it all over again.
When it comes to catering for your wedding, do not be afraid to ask ALL the questions, consider alternative suppliers to the norm, they may just nail it, and most of all, its YOUR day so do your thing.