Deck the halls! New research by Christmas Tree World has revealed that Christmas is an opportunity for venues to maximise on sales, with 59% of those surveyed admitting they would spend more money if the venue had impressive Christmas decorations and displays – £21 more on average per head to be exact.
The top five things that consumers consider to be an important part of the experience:
- Christmas food menu (51%)
- Decorations (45%)
- Christmas tree (43%)
- Music (30%)
- Christmas drinks menu (28%)
The research also revealed that 15% of participants claimed they would not visit the venue if it wasn’t appropriately decorated for Christmas.
FreeFrom options Preparing vegetarian or vegan dishes at Christmas time is easier than you think. Amanda Woodvine, CEO of Vegetarian for Life, said: “It can seem quite daunting thinking of meal alternatives for vegan or vegetarian residents at Christmas time but it’s now easier than ever. We have created a whole list of easy-to-follow recipes, such as mushroom, nut and cranberry wellington, on our website.” Visit www.vegetarianforlife.org.uk for more recipes.
Central Foods has recently launched two new savoury vegan products that are also gluten free, which would suit Christmas menus. The Menuserve Cauliflower and Lentil Dhal Bundt with Spiced Mango Chutney and the Menuserve Cajun Spiced Sweet Potato Roulade with Vegan Cream Cheese, Red Pepper and Black Bean Salsa, are both centre-of-the-plate items, which give good plate coverage and height.
Festive grazing Never is there a better opportunity for foodservice operators to make the most of all-day dining than during the festive season, when consumers are filling their social calendars around the clock. Factor in the ongoing trend for grazing and snacking, and it becomes clear that chefs need festive menus that save time in busy kitchens, whilst delivering exciting food experiences to customers.
“This is where pre-prepared ingredients that deliver on authenticity and great taste can save the day,” says James Robinson, of Brindisa. “Spain provides an extensive showcase of charcuterie, with an astonishing breadth of flavours and price points.”
Bumper buffets “Catering at Christmas often involves large numbers of guests, and one of the key challenges is ensuring that food is served quickly and efficiently,” said Marie- Emmanuelle Chessé, of Tipiak. “Life can be made easier by buying in high quality, pre-prepared frozen items like canapés or petits fours. This will leave more time for chefs to devote to preparing other parts of the meal.”
The Tipiak savoury hand-finished canapes, patisserie and petits fours are specifically designed for the foodservice professional. For maximum convenience, simply open the box, remove the protective film and slide the products from their tray straight on to the serving platter.
HB Ingredients also offer an extensive collection of products to save time whilst enhancing your festive offering, from Pidy Amusette spoons dipped in tempered dark and white chocolate, and all butter tartlets, to fabulous petit fours cups and edible decorations in the Mona Lisa range. Visit www.stiritupmagazine.co.uk/recipes for recipes from HB’s award-winning development chef Sam Rain for chai caramel truffles rolled in Sosa gold powder, warm spiced pannacotta, and mulled wine foam.
Seasonal sides For a festive alternative to potatoes, why not serve a side of creamed or baked parsnips and flavoursome gravy laced with cranberries? To add a contemporary twist to classic flavours, roast potatoes can be used to create Brussels sprout, roast potato and crispy pancetta kebabs.
Nigel Phillips, of Lamb Weston, advises: “As consumers look to spend quality time with friends and family, sharing dishes and dip options should be a feature on menus. Incorporating different flavours, such as ginger, star anise and cranberry adds a perfect festive twist. Lamb Weston’s extensive range of potato products allow operators to easily offer variety of sharing dishes, such as Connoisseur Fries topped with turkey gravy, melted brie and cranberry sauce poutine-style.”
Say cheese It wouldn’t be Christmas without cheese, and chefs can promote cheese boards as the main attraction on a party menu, the grand finale to festive feasting, or simply a grazing board of nibbles. The different regions of Spain offer hundreds of cheeses for foodservice operators looking to add crowd-pleasers as well as newer innovations to their menus, says James Robinson, product trainer at Brindisa. “Luna Negra raw goats’ Use a liquid butter substitute to baste the turkey, roast parsnips, potatoes and sprouts, create luscious glaze for ham and even make rich, crumbly shortcrust pastry for mince pies.
Provolone Pots from Futura Foods are another menu must. With a nutty, slightly piquant taste which intensifies when melted, its versatility makes it a delicious option for sharing boards, starters and mains for the perfect menu all around this Christmas.
Twist it Christmas isn’t a time to shy away from new ideas and concepts, and offering lots of different dishes, rather than obvious choices, is the key to success.
“Offering quirky twists on some traditional dishes will mix things up a bit and go down well with customers who may have already been to several Christmas parties,” advises Fergus Martin, foodservice development chef at Major. “The warm spices and fruity flavours of Moroccan cuisine lend themselves to Christmas dishes and can be used to marinade salmon for starters or to add something different to your stuffing and vegetarian roasts.
Festive bakes “Christmas is one of the best opportunities in the year for caterers to show off their creativity and increase profits. Consumers expect to be wowed with over-the-top festive bakes, meaning that absolutely anything goes,” says Emma Haworth, of Dr Oetker Professional. Dr Oetker Professional’s wide range of ingredients includes Scotbloc to provide a glossy finish on cakes, cookies and traybakes, Ready to Roll Marzipan and Regal-Ice Ready to Roll White Icing.
One of the most popular sweet treats to enjoy at Christmas is the yule log. Just by turning it on its side you can transform it from the traditional Swiss roll shape into a masterpiece that is sure to impress customers. By using Scotbloc you can create an entire winter forest scene including chocolate mushrooms and leaves, completed with chocolate shavings around the side to finish off the tree stump design.
Decadent desserts Dessert provides the perfect opportunity to add an indulgent twist. Try giving the classic Christmas pudding a flavour overhaul by combining chocolate orange and cinnamon to create a festive spiced flavour.
Kerrymaid Premium Baking is dairy-free along with Kerrymaid Cream Alternatives are gluten-free, making them great accompaniments to desserts and also enable caterers to provide for the growing health-conscious population and those who have special dietary requirements. Thorntons Luxury Chocolate Flakes can be used as part of a buttercream to add the finishing touches to a cake, melted down to create a chocolate ganache for chocolate tarts and even tempered to glaze eclairs.
Full of beans Whilst Christmas is a key time for menu development, many will forget about their hot beverage offering. With 41% of all venues and 77% of coffee shops listing at least one festive limited time offer coffee drink last year, it is an area which shouldn’t be overlooked, with flavours such as gingerbread and salted caramel proving a big hit.
Lee Hyde, beverage innovation manager for Monin, comments: “Last year saw the introduction of the first flavoured flat white with fantastic media coverage and drove consumers to try something different from their usual order. This trend is set to continue this year, where we expect to see dessert flavours such as creme brulee and black forest take centre stage.” Visit www.stiritupmagazine.co.uk/recipes for Monin’s recipes for Hot Lemonade, Salted Caramel Latte, Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate and Gingerbread Frappe. You could also use Monin’s Winter Spice syrup with Prosecco to create delicious festive royales and bellinis.
Festive food and drink pairing by Premier Foods Turkey is a delicate meat and the drink pairing is more ruled by the accompaniments than the turkey itself. A good pairing needs a drink with high acidity to cut through the richness of the turkey and sausages, and refresh the palate with every sip. Try: Cotes du Rhone, a medium weight wine from the south of France with red fruit and spicy flavours. Beer lovers could try a Belgian cheery beer, and cranberry and pomegranate juice work well for an alcohol-free option.