Within a few short months, Christmas will be upon us and now is the time to get planning! With the festive period more critical to the hospitality sector than ever before, many operators will be introducing inspirational festive menus and concepts that will encourage customers to step out of their homes and celebrate with friends and family.

The hospitality sector plays a vital part in spreading Christmas spirit, so in this edition of Stir it Up we are taking a look at some of the plans currently in place.  Join us as we don our Santa hats and start the countdown to Christmas 2021.

Dave Deaves, Chef, The Tap House, Shoreham

This will be a very special Christmas, as for many it will be a proper reunion following the unique year we’ve had. As such it’ll be all about warm, reassuring and homely flavours at our Tap House; think of cinnamon aromas, dill on salmon, star anise tartness, warm cloves in apple and a cosy glass of mulled wine or cider.

In addition to traditional offerings, we’ll be having piping hot mussels cooked in cider, bacon & parsley and a locally sourced seafood stew with saffron and vermouth to warm from the inside out. Our Chef’s Specials will complement our festive menus with traditional indulgences that will include a shrimp or crab based appetiser, freshly roasted turkey, a local beef cut and for dessert, the must have plum pudding and a rich dark chocolate treat.

Tom Bourlet, Marketing, Fizzbox

Our events company have noticed a large number of hotels opting for roast dinners in previous years, however there has been an increase in hotels stating that they may be offering Thai food this year! One of the most popular dishes for 2021 is Pad Kee Mao, a rice noodle dish also known as ‘Drunken Noodles’.

In years gone by, when an office would enquire about a vegetarian or vegan option, they would predominantly be offered a nut roast for Christmas dinner. This year we have seen a few new options introduced, including a root vegetable tarte tatin; a mouth-watering combination of parsnip, carrot and sweet potato. This tasty dish is covered in puff pastry and served with cheese (optional) for vegetarians.

Etienne Moyet, UK Ambassador for Maison Villevert and Bar Manager, The Ivy Manchester

This Christmas I will visit pear flavours, inspired by my family who have made this fruit part of our festive celebrations since I was little. Pear is extremely versatile in cocktails and this year I will combine it with ginger and cardamom, two spices from the same family whose spicy, earthy and citrus notes perfectly balance the sweetness of pear. To bring these flavours together I have created a Pear, Cardamom & Ginger Martini using June Pear & Cardamom Gin and Domaine De Canton Ginger Liqueur, both being artisanal products from Cognac, it neatly highlights the alchemy of the flavours.

Rebecca Manfredi, Managing Director, Suncream Ice Cream

Adding limited edition Christmas specials to your menu is a great way to entice customers through your doors over the festive period. Customers love trying out a fun twist on a traditional dish or flavour and after a missed or muted celebration last year, will be looking for an extra pick-me-up treat whilst dining out this year. The new Suncream Mince Pie ice cream as a side to popular puddings or as a stand-alone dessert is a great and simple way to add festive flavours to your menu.

Claire Bannerman, Roving Chef, Vegetarian for Life

I like to pair different textures with flavours that you instantly associate with the festive period. My go to starters are great for sharing and tofu is the perfect base for citrus flavours. Crispy smoked tofu fingers with a cranberry and lime dip combines crunch with the zing of fresh cranberries. I also love to use figs and tofu accompanied by a spiced orange dressing. This rich combination is the perfect blend of festive flavours.

Our Mushroom Wellington is a traditional crowd pleaser, a wonderfully festive centerpiece. A great alternative to turkey that can be served with all the trimmings.

Maryanne Hall, Food & Cookery Manager, Viva!

This year we’ve loved bringing fruity flavours into savoury dishes to add deliciously moreish, sweet flavour, such as our Apricot & Chestnut stuffing, Cranberry “Bousin” Style Cheese and Maple Parnsips. Oh and did we mention cocktails? Try a Cranberry Mojito, an Old Fashioned or a vegan ‘Baileys’ Irish Cream Liqueur! Our new vegan recipe guide contains 25 recipes including scrumptious starters, luscious mains, tempting sides and heavenly desserts, not forgetting truffles, Christmas cakes and cheese.

Talia Profet, Head Development Chef, deZaan Cocoa

With hospitality making a return this festive season, it’s time for caterers and operators to go all out with their desserts! Classic Christmas cakes such as the Yule Chocolate Log and Black Forest Gateau will always be a hit with diners but try giving them a fresh update. Our range of six cocoa powders have their own flavour profiles, allowing caterers to get creative with their bakes. The True Dark cocoa pairs perfectly with zesty orange for those familiar festive flavours or use Crimson Red to get your desserts into the Christmas spirit!

Mohammed Essa, General Manager, Aviko

We expect sharing platters will prove popular over the Christmas period as friends, co-workers and family gather for festive drinks. These diners will seek indulgent and luxurious topped and loaded fries to share amongst themselves. Mix up your offering with exciting toppings such as Philly Cheesesteak or Vegan Dirty Fries! Aviko’s Gastro Gratin will give festive menus an edge and point of difference from more common potato-based side dishes. Made using the finest ingredients including creamy Godminster Mature Cheddar Cheese, steam blanched sliced potatoes, rosemary and thyme, these hand-finished gratins are an easy way to upgrade potato sides and wow customers.

Zareen Deboo, Foodservice Channel Operations Manager, Ferrero UK & Ireland

Consumers are much more likely to want to treat themselves over the festive period with indulgent and rich flavours. Operators can revamp existing offerings by adding luxurious fillings or toppings to Christmas cookies or existing bakes and cakes. By upgrading existing menu items operators can add value and variety to everyday items while also boosting profits. Ferrero has made it easy for caterers to get the great taste of Nutella® into their bakes with the 1kg Piping Bag.