Earlier this year saw the return of the Casual Dining Show, the only trade show solely dedicated to the casual dining sector. This year’s event had over 200 suppliers, tastemakers and trendsetters turning up to London’s Business Design Centre, ready for two days of showcasing what the cutting edge of the casual dining industry has to offer

At McCain we’re proud to have been connected to the Casual Dining Show since its launch back in 2013, and this February’s event marked our fifth consecutive year attending. To mark the occasion and the launch of our brand new StayCrisp Medium and Julienne Skin-on fries, we decided to give visitors of the show a taste of something they’d never experienced before.

Those passing by stand G5 were invited to Ignite Their Senses, by taking part in a unique, one time only virtual reality dining experience. Working in partnership with flavourologists Salts of the Earth, and cooked up on the day by Hereford based “meat boutique” the Beefy Boys, we created 8 bespoke seasoning combinations, designed to partner perfectly with our new StayCrisp fries. By combining exotic ingredients like dehydrated rose buds, pine needles and sea buckthorn with more traditional seasonings, we aimed to show that a little imagination and preparation can transform fries into a true menu event.

That wasn’t everything we had in store, and with a little help from virtual reality headsets, we gave visitors of the McCain stand a taste of a fully immersive multi-sensory eating experience. Combined with the exotic taste of our Dukkha Fries, visitors could be whisked away to Marrakech to soak in the sights, sounds, and flavours on show at a bustling souq. Those preferring cooler climes were instead invited to experience sunlight glinting off of ice capped mountain peaks, the crunch of snow underfoot, and the fresh, intense flavours of our Swiss-inspired Alpine Ski Fries.

Alongside getting the first taste of our all new Menu Signatures Fries, visitors to the stand were also given a deeper insight into the world of flavourology. Salts of the Earth were on hand to give a lesson on ingenuity and versatility, showing how ingredients as diverse as mealworms and rose petals could be used to create a show-stopping range of seasonings. Attendees could also take home samples of each flavour combination, decanted into a test tube, allowing them to carry out their own flavour combo experiments at home.

With the casual dining sector in 2018 perhaps more competitive than ever, operators need to stay inspired, exercise creativity, and ultimately give customers something they just wouldn’t be able to find anywhere else. That’s why it’s increasingly important to offer up unique food experiences, whether you’re trying to whisk customers away for far flung lands with your cooking, or just focusing on offering up great ingredients carefully combined. We presented the best of both worlds at this year’s show, showcasing how well-crafted flavour combinations ingredients and something as simple as hot, crispy, well-cooked fries, can work perfectly in tandem.

To find out more about our Menu Signatures StayCrisp Medium and StayCrisp Julienne Skin-On Fries, see footage from our time at this year’s show, and download all new fry seasoning recipes, head to our Ignite Your Senses page here.