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Stir it up magazine October 2015

CATEGORY FOCUS CHRISTMAS PUDDING CUPCAKES Forward planning and good organisation now will pay dividends, and your Country Range Group wholesaler is on hand, as always, to help and advise. “By encouraging consumers, residents, and students to pre-order Christmas meal menu choices or by offering a set menu, chefs and caterers can better forecast spend and bulk buy necessary ingredients in advance helping to reduce food waste and business overheads,” says Grace Keenan, brand manager for Kerrymaid. Sarah Gray, channel marketing manager at Premier Foods, adds: “With pubs and restaurants across the country competing for festive customers, and 64% of caterers claiming to change their menus to reflect seasonal events, it is important to stand out from the crowd by offering innovative menus and tailor-made deals. Similarly, whether serving food in a school, a hospital or workplace environment, caterers can add sparkle to meal times with exciting seasonal dishes.” Taking advantage of well-known branded products such as Bisto will help enhance your offering, says Sarah, and Premier is launching a convenient 1kg pack of Paxo stuffing in time for the festive season. Chris Barber, pub food expert for Unilever Food Solutions, says: “When it comes to festive catering, you’re only as good as your last Christmas dinner. In fact more than one in three people (34%) refuse to return to a venue where they had been disappointed before at Christmas. The trade you generate over this period can be the difference between profit and loss for the entire year. So use the opportunity to build relationships with customers old and new.” FESTIVE trends The festive season provides a welcome excuse for indulgence and a great occasion for social gatherings. This is the time that consumers abandon diets and seek out luxurious food offerings. Joe Steele, chief executive of Bookatable, comments: “We have seen a significant shift in consumer habits as people are now becoming more open to eating out on Christmas Day itself to avoid the stress and expense of cooking at home.” Christmas Day bookings have gone up by more than 150% since 2011, and food choice is also changing, with the traditional British Christmas Dinner still top, but noticeable popular alternatives being American style ‘Steaks and Grills’ making 14% of its bookings, and French cuisine at 7% of bookings. MULLED WINE GAMMON MEATY issues Beef and lamb-based dishes are always popular during the festive season and provide a tasty alternative to the traditional turkey dinner. Hugh Judd, foodservice project manager for AHDB Beef & Lamb, says: “For a real crowd pleasing meal, include a Glazed Roast Saddle of Lamb on your Christmas menus. Opt for a boneless saddle that is stuffed with flavoured lamb mince and serve with traditional accompaniments.” Rump and Sirloin roasting joints provide an outstanding eating experience and are ideal for serving on Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Keith Fisher, butchery development manager for AHDB Pork, said: “Gammon is a staple at Christmas and expected to be seen. However, as the meat complements so many different flavour profiles, it’s the perfect way for caterers to introduce a modern twist to the traditional festive menu. For example, instead of using traditional glazes and marinades such as honey or cola, why not try something a little different, such as pairing gammon with Thai green curry or making Gammon Jerk. Or, for more traditional tastes an ultra-festive menu item of roast gammon with mulled wine, cranberry and cinnamon glaze works extremely well.” VARIETY is the spice of life Whilst the turkey might be the centerpiece, the quality of your sides must be tip-top too, says Marie Medhurst, sales and marketing director for Bannisters’ Farm. “No Christmas menu is complete without the traditional turkey roast, and that means roast potatoes,” she explains. “Cooking roast potatoes from fresh is time consuming, and it can be difficult to achieve consistent results, especially during busy festive services and Christmas parties. “Frozen roast potatoes provide a cost-effective and time-saving solution, but it’s important to choose the right product to avoid compromising on quality and taste. Many frozen products come battered or coated, a tell-tale sign that they’ve come straight from the freezer. With more and more people following vegan or gluten-free diets, you’ll also need to read the ingredient list carefully, as many frozen roast potatoes will contain gluten or dairy products.” Chef’s Classic Roasting Potatoes from Bannisters’ Farm are simply part-cooked, seasoned and shaken with oil in the traditional way before being frozen, so they’re ready to be popped on a baking tray and finished off in the oven. Bannisters’ Farm also offer alternative accompaniments, such as ready-made creamy mash, colcannon, bubble & squeak CHRISTMAS PUDDING ICE CREAM and carrot and swede mash, which work well with a variety of festive menu options. Speciality breads offer something a bit different and exceptional to satisfy the growing demand for artisan goods. Richard Jansen, MD of Pan’Artisan, says: “Christmas time provides a fantastic opportunity to showcase premium menu options and if popular, these can make an appearance later in the New Year as part of a menu refresh. In light of consumers’ interest in artisan products and in response to feedback from our customers, we have created a range of speciality breads including Rosemary Focaccia and Tear ‘n’ Share Garlic Bread.” A BIT of sauce An essential sauce accompaniment for Christmas puddings this year is Macphie’s gluten-free, luxury Brandy Sauce. It contains the finest French brandy, is ready to use, can be eaten hot or cold and is freeze/thaw, bain-marie and microwave stable. BRING on the Buffet A brilliant buffet will get your Christmas parties off with a bang, and there is a vast array of fabulous products out there to thrill your diners. Country Range has a large selection of products to suit your Christmas buffet table, including: • Chicken – Hot & Spicy or BBQ Wings (6 x 1kg); Breaded or Southern Fried Goujons (5 x 2kg) • Cocktail Sausages (Pork 32s) • Sausage Rolls (4”, 6” or 8”) • Silverskin Onions (1.48kg) • Cocktail Gherkins (1.48kg) BUFFET SAUSAGES AND CHEESE & ONION OCTOBER 2015 09


Stir it up magazine October 2015
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