Chelsea Clinton’s mostly vegan wedding

2 Aug

Tongues are wagging — with some salivating and others going “yuck” — over news reports that Chelsea Clinton’s super-secret upstate New York wedding to Marc Mezvinsky this Saturday will feature a vegan menu and a gluten-free cake. The couple will throw at least one bone to meat eaters, though, by serving up some organic grass-fed beef.

While all-alternative banquet menus are still relatively rare — caterers say they account for just a small sliver of the pie, or cake, as it were — such requests are on the rise, a trend that is likely to continue in the wake of the former first daughter’s wedding.

“This will empower people to make these requests,” says Grace Clerihew, a principal at Table Tales, a New York City catering firm. “Prior to this, they might have thought it was not mainstream enough to even talk about, but now that they see it being done by such a public persona it becomes acceptable.”

Chelsea likely chose her menu based on both personal preferences and health needs — she is said to have been vegan since her teen years and to have a gluten allergy — but her wedding menu should have a trickle-down effect nonetheless, says Clerihew.

It’s already become standard practice for most caterers and restaurants to offer vegetarian options. Clerihew predicts this event will inspire them to explore vegan and gluten-free options “in a more inspired way.”

What vegan, gluten-free involves
At hundreds of dollars a head, Chelsea’s menu had better be inspired. But even more common folk can expect to pay a premium for such specialty menus, which until now have largely been the province of higher-end caterers in more food-conscious markets.

Vegan and gluten-free options can be one and the same, but not necessarily so. Vegan dishes are not simply vegetarian dishes; instead, they do not contain any ingredients derived from animals, including butter, cheese, milk and other dairy products.

Gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, barley and oat products, can trigger allergic reactions in people who suffer from celiac disease and gluten intolerance. So gluten-free foods are devoid of wheat, rye, barley or oat gluten.

The double whammy of vegan and gluten-free restrictions can certainly make planning a menu — and crafting a cake — a challenge, but chefs and caterers in the know say it can be done successfully and can be well worth the effort. In fact, they say mainstream eaters may be surprised to discover that vegan and gluten-free food can be delicious.

“We’ve gotten very savvy about creating wonderful things with alternative ingredients,” says Paula LeDuc, owner of Paula LeDuc Fine Catering, an event firm in San Francisco. “It’s not just pasta or a big pile of veggies anymore.”

Dishes like LeDuc’s signature grilled tofu and portobello mushroom rounds shingled on fresh rosemary skewers served on a summer corn and Beaulieu Garden sungold tomato succotash can set a banquet table abuzz and have those who ordered the meat or fish asking to switch plates. The experience is so common that her firm routinely makes extra to satisfy all who ask.

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One Response to “Chelsea Clinton’s mostly vegan wedding”

  1. More August 3, 2010 at 1:47 am #

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