Fresh Ideas for Food-to-Go

With food-to-go and delivery options holding up the hospitality sector for most of 2020, we take a closer look at who has been innovating, the lessons learned by newcomers to the service and the many ways of incorporating this essential revenue stream to the menu. Whether operating in the supply chain, education or B2C sector, we have seen the introduction of some exceptional ideas and exciting new concepts emerge. 

Even in their darkest hour, caterers have fought long and hard, never giving up in the battle to keep the lights on.

Box out:

Bums on Seats, the UK’s largest outsource sales agency for the hospitality industry, has joined forces with a wealth of industry experts to
provide operators with the ultimate guide on takeaway, delivery and ‘at home’ dining. Read more in our Special Feature on page 37.

Paul Foster,
Executive Chef, Birtelli’s
We expanded our pizza delivery offering during the first lockdown to include make-at-home pizza kits, using restaurant calibre ingredients, that the public can make and enjoy at home. The kits proved to be very popular locally, and in the autumn we expanded to offer nationwide next day delivery. Operationally, having a production kitchen and warehouse set up has been instrumental in fulfilling the demand.

Pizza kits have always been a part of our long-term plan, so the offering is very much an acceleration of our plans and will continue beyond lockdown. Favourite toppings from the menu have been our Wenlock Edge pizzas featuring cured meats from Wenlock Edge Farm and our Ticklemore Goats Cheese pizza, from Sharpham Estate in Devonshire. 

Chris Dickinson,
Business Development Director, Pan Artisan
Pizza remains one of the most requested take-out and delivery options. Alongside the ‘classic’ pizza choices, incorporate some ‘specials’ that reflect current trends. Pizza toppings that showcase seasonal, local produce or authentic ingredients such as Italian burrata, will attract consumers seeking provenance and quality, enabling operators to increase sales. Remember, the pizza base is as important as the toppings.  With consideration for consumer and customer feedback, we have developed a wide variety of convenient choices, which are quick to prepare with minimal effort. Our range of multi-use doughballs, pre-made pizza bases, made with sourdough or premium Italian recipe doughs, are suitable for vegan, vegetarian and lactose-free diets.

Giancarlo Princigalli,
General Manager, Aquavit London
One of the most important things to consider is how the food will travel. It’s not quite as simple as putting your whole menu on a delivery platform and then job done. You need to think about what will work and what simply won’t, so you can ensure you keep your standards of quality and that the food is still ‘restaurant level’ when it reaches that person’s home.

One thing that worked really well for us was our Kraftskiva Box that launched in August, featuring one or two dozen crayfish as well as some delicious sides such as a västerbotten cheese tart and roasted new potatoes with dill. Kraftskiva is a classic Nordic tradition that we celebrate every year at Aquavit.

Nicholas Blythe,
Managing Director, Paella Fella
As a result of COVID-19 we took an executive decision to fast-track a home delivery model to sit alongside our core catering business. It was a knee-jerk reaction to losing our catering pipeline overnight when lockdown measures were first introduced. We had to factor in the necessary protocols to sustain a contactless procedure as part of COVID-19, but in one month, we were able to secure extra funding, invest in an online ordering platform called Spoonfed and adapt our menu with more pre-prepped tapas dishes such as Sautéed Mushrooms in a Creamy Garlic Sauce and Pollo Boracho (Drunken Chicken) cooked in beer. We also took a plan to market with a soft launch on social media platforms targeting local communities.

The biggest challenge to date remains one of cashflow from a food-to-go model based on serving individual households versus a catering model serving large-scale events, but we are learning and adapting constantly.

Henry Dewar,
Beverage Innovation Manager at Monin
When delivering coffee, the most important thing is ensuring it doesn’t become compromised. The risk of this is obviously higher through the delivery process so it is important to ensure you are equipped with triple wall cups and tight lids to prevent leakages, as well as ensuring you chose a reliable delivery company who use insulated delivery boxes. You can also get creative at the same time as adding value to your business by offering a variety of options within your to-go or delivered hot beverage menu. Interesting twists to classic formats always work well from a Tiramisu Cappuccino to a Macaroon Flat White. You could also try offering at home delivery latte kits with various flavour options such as a deliciously on-trend Iced Salted Caramel Latte.

Felipe Preece,
Owner, Sugoi JPN
First and foremost, you need to be unique. The hospitality industry is highly saturated so your USP will help persuade customers that your brand is the best choice. Our USP is our NoriTacos (a seaweed tempura shell with Japanese-Latin fusion fillings) – you will not find anything else like it in London and as a result we have won many awards! Also your menu needs to cater to a wide audience. For example, due to the rapid rise of the meat-free market, we created a new concept, Arepita Sliders, to appeal to this audience with our naturally gluten-free and vegan corn buns which come with various homemade fillings which you can mix and match at home to find your perfect combination.

Drew Sinclair,
Operations Director & Chef, CMC School Food NB
School leaders, catering staff & CMC have come up with many different ways of continuing to deliver hot nutritious food to our pupils. The CMC TUBS concept has worked really well; breakfast and morning tubs were already in operation and we have added items such as Full Breakfast Pots and Egg & Bean with brown bread soldiers which have proved popular. When making meals in pots it’s necessary to make sure you keep ingredients bite sized or easy to eat with a spoon.

We restricted a lot of dishes to three elements without skimping on the flavour, texture or nutritional value. We used base items and adding suitable meat and vegetarian proteins to ensure menu choice without adding to the workload to create dishes such as our Mediterranean Chicken Box consisting of chicken thighs flavoured with tomato, lemon and coriander served
with a brown rice and red cabbage slaw.

Andrea Deutschmanek,
Country Marketing Manager UK & ROI, Lamb Weston
During these COVID times people are ordering more delivered food and operators need to develop menus suitable for takeaway to keep up with Government guidelines. In ‘normal’ times, chips, wedges and fries made up 60% of potato servings out of home* but operators have to solve a soggy problem – because fries don’t travel well! However crisp, golden and delicious they might be in the kitchen, fries will reach their destination cold and soggy. Everyone loves fries and they can be perfect for take-away, but why not load them up for added appeal? Showcase exciting trends, such as taking inspiration from global cuisines. Chef Philli has created a selection of recipes from Masala Loaded Fries to Big Mac Loaded Fries to Japanese inspired Okonomiyaki Fries, all of which can be found with lots of other innovative ideas, recipes and potato inspiration at

Alison Smith,
Global Product Developer, Mars Food
As the demand for food-on-the-move continues to grow in the university sector, so does demand for convenient, hand-held foods such as pasta pots, salad boxes, sandwiches and wraps. When it comes to making these sandwiches and wraps, caterers must not only ensure that the options they offer are practical, but that they also boast delicious fillings. However, for many caterers, making a wide variety of wet sandwich fillings entirely from scratch can be tremendously time-consuming, as well as difficult to execute. This is where a quality, ready-to-use sauce proves particularly ideal. The DOLMIO PROFESSIONAL® and UNCLE BEN’S PROFESSIONAL® range can be used straight from the jar, making them a highly suitable sauce not only for creating wet fillings, but also as marinades, dressings and sandwich spreads.

Jay Mistry and Peter Morrisowners of Avocado Garden
When lockdown was announced, we had to think creatively, and fast. Our menu had to be carefully adjusted to only include dishes that would travel well and we had to be sure that our customers were getting the best possible meals delivered to them. We immediately invested in our chef’s training so that every dish looked and tasted the same regardless of which of our six chefs would be cooking.

Our slow cooked beef cheek with creamy risotto is a crowd pleaser; warm and comforting, it travels well and is one of our most ordered dishes in the evenings. Our Mediterranean mussels steamed with beer, lime, tomatoes, shallots and red chilli is another meal which travels well and can be presented in a similar way to if it were being served in the restaurant.

Ed Parkes,
Director of The Gentleman Baristas
We found that customers are looking to recreate their experience at the coffee house at home. We created breakfast bundles of the most popular items which we now offer on Deliveroo, freshly delivered to the customer’s doorstep. 

Our summer activation was launching The Gentlemen Baristas afternoon tea at home, using fresh, locally sourced ingredients all made and beautifully packaged in our coffee houses, as well as tea bags, it includes The Gentlemen Baristas coffee ground to order, delivered directly from our roastery in East London. As a small operations team, meeting demand can be tough but with clear communication and a brilliant can-do attitude from all plus the support of our customers, we’re on top of it all. We have now launched it nationwide due to an increase in enquiries throughout Britain. 

Helen Hyde,
Business Unit Manager, TABASCO®
In the out-of-home market, we have seen the heat and spice trend growing continuously for a number of years, across a wide variety of menu items; from breakfast to pizza, burritos and burgers, consumers are looking for a meal with a kick. Bacon butty exalters, Le Swine create their own bespoke ‘Le Big Smoke’ Ketchup using TABASCO® Chipotle Sauce and tequila to add a kick to the range of delicious burgers and sandwiches they create for their customers.

Visit for the full recipe. As a plant-based option, add a spicy bean and corn burrito to your menu served alongside a spicy mayo dip to dine-in or takeaway.  TABASCO® also offer individual 3ml sachets or 3.7ml mini bottles to add spice to your takeaway and delivery menu.