The Comfort Zone

When times are tough, we turn to our favourite food and drink for comfort.

For some it is a dish from their childhood, for others it brings back fond memories from their travels, but as those in the business know, food can also prove to be uplifting in other ways too. 

The simple act of dining out can take consumers to a whole new world, experiencing new flavours and cooking techniques that set fire to all of the senses. This month, we dig deeper into that world of experiential dining and nostalgic dishes to reveal the many ways chefs and businesses are creating meals from the comforting and familiar to the unusual and exhilarating – to get customers in, or out, of their comfort zones!

Jens Nisson
Executive Chef Director,Bubble Food

Experiential catering has become even more important over the last year. Limited guest numbers at social events means organisers are relying on the food to leave a lasting impression and bring real drama to an occasion. We also see our events as a form of escapism, taking diners on a journey away from the everyday through culinary experiences that heighten the senses.

Our Apple Elixir is a refreshing combination of apple, lavender, honey and lemonade, garnished with apple slices, lavender and peppermint. This pairs beautifully with our Nori Chicken Cracker which is topped with smoked cod and green apple.

MAHESH RAIKAR
MD, SKVP

There are three really important elements at heart of SKVP; authentic flavour, tastes from the streets of Mumbai and Quick Service.  Totally plant-based, food is served piping hot with a variety of dishes like Vada Pav, Misal, Bhel Puri, Kacchi Dabeli and many other tasty vegetarian Indian dishes, all made to order and served within 5 minutes, bringing Mumbai street food straight from the heart of Mumbai to Solihull. 

Our memories of eating this kind of food regularly back home in Mumbai, where street food vendors were outside most schools, colleges and workplaces inspired us to start our first restaurant in 2010.  For us, it is not just about delivering mouth-watering cuisine, but connecting people to what they’re eating, appealing to a community who feel the same nostalgia for an authentic taste of home and sharing the story of India’s rich food culture.

Padam Raj Rai
Executive Chef, Hot Stone

I’ve always loved creating and serving special dishes whilst being able to interact with guests which is why we launched the 14-course Omakase concept last year. The launch of this unique experience was put on hold by the national lockdown so
it felt even more special after what has been a difficult time for so many.  

As the Omakase experience is available to just four guests at a time, it was the perfect way to offer an intimate experience which complied with social distancing when we reopened. Due to the success of Omakase menu, we’ve now introduced an 11-course lunch option every Monday to cater to the high demand.  Diners can enjoy certified Kobe beef on a hot stone and a range of award-winning sushi and sashimi dishes such as 48hr marinated black cod rolls and yellowtail with mango salsa.

Carlo Scotto
Chef Owner, Xier | XR

To create a truly exceptional dining experience, and push yourself out from the crowd, you need to engage all the senses. I always try and bring a certain amount of theatricality to every dish on my menu to do just this, meticulously planning every element.

Experiential dining is about thinking beyond just the food, and looking at how you present it on the plate, to the colours and textures and smells – every element needs to marry up perfectly. I like to play with visuals to surprise and delight customers, like with the ‘Chef’s Eye’ that is on the menu currently. Through manipulating milk to become a solid, and with caviar and green oil with vanilla and bronze fennel tops, I’ve created a dish that looks exactly like a human eye. It looks impressive and exciting, and really sparks interest from customers, but better still it tastes incredible.

Annette Coggins
Head of Foodservice, Tilda UK

After an unsettling year, many consumers will be looking for comfort in the well-known favourites of the past. Rice pudding has been popular for many years, and with an abundance of fresh and exciting flavour combinations at our fingertips, the variations on this familiar dish are endless.

Enhance your pudding by incorporating coconut cream, adding a sweet and unique flavour combination to an already delicious dessert. We love using our Fragrant Jasmine rice from our speciality range as the versatile, sticky grains allow you to create the perfect creamy texture for rice puddings. Explore the different flavour profiles of fresh fruit and experiment with the exotic with our Mango Rice Pudding.

Jonny Inglis
Co-Owner, Banquist

At Banquist, we partner with the world’s best chefs, giving people Michelin-Star dining experiences delivered to their door.  Our hampers contain everything customers need to cook Michelin Star dishes such as wagyu beef, lobster tagliatelle, and tarte tatin along with carefully paired wine and a step-by-step video guide. 

We started Banquist because we felt at-home fine dining had been taken over by boring ‘re-heat and serve’ menus. Banquist customers cook from scratch with fresh, seasonal ingredients in their own home while learning amazing new techniques from chefs such as Theo Randall, Gareth Ward, and James Knappet.

Michelle Younger
Head of Marketing & Horlicks Brand Manager, Aimia Foodservice

Horlicks has been comforting the nation for nearly 150 years. With a delicious malty taste and enriched with vitamins and minerals Horlicks is the perfect drink for a moment of relaxation or add to milkshakes, smoothies or sweet bakes for a recognisable malty twist for customers, patients or residents.

To make Horlicks Pancakes mix 50g Horlicks, 2tsp baking powder and ½ tsp cinnamon in a bowl. In a separate bowl,
whisk 1 egg, 20g melted butter and 130ml milk. Gradually add egg mixture to the flour, whisk until smooth. Brush a non-stick frying pan with oil, spoon the mix into the pan and gently fry on both sides until light and fluffy. Serve with blueberries and a drizzle of maple syrup.