Menu Matters - December
Dean Kinsey, development chef with Oliver Kay Produce, part of the Bidfresh Group, offers event ideas and tips on seasonal produce to help boost January sales
Seasonal produce ideas: Some of my favourite vegetables for winter menus include piccolo parsnips, available until early January, which have the same sweet, tender taste as a normal parsnip but are smaller and no peeling is needed.
Colourful Chantenay carrots, a heirloom variety originating from the Chantenay region of France, are also great for adding a colour burst to winter menus with varieties including purple and white as well as traditional orange available until the end of December.
For a different twist on honey roasted parsnips and carrots use on-trend salted caramel instead of honey.
The purple tipped January King Cabbage is also in season now. Similar to Savoy, but with a slightly sweeter taste, it offers a great alternative to more standard cabbages, and adds colour to the plate. It has a short season, so take advantage of them while you can. For a great vegan-friendly dish for January lunch menus, use the cabbage in a slaw with grated kohl rabi, carrot and a ranch dressing to accompany a pomegranate molasses and smoked tofu flat bread.
The unique looking Romenesco cauliflower returns in January. It has a slightly nuttier taste than cauliflower and its vibrant green colour will liven up any dish.
Event idea: Veganuary
Last year 250,000 people worldwide signed up to Veganuary, a campaign inspiring people to try vegan for January. Veganuary is a great time to introduce new vegan-friendly beers and wines to your bar list and exciting new dishes to your menu and specials board.
You could host a ‘Vegan Supper Club’ event or launch a new regular night such as ‘Vegan Junk Food Night’ or ‘Meat-Free Mondays’ during the month. Create dishes with ingredients which aren’t alienating to non-vegans as many flexitarians will also be tempted by vegan options.
Following the indulgence of the festive season, many customers will also be looking for healthier menu options, so ensure you have some creative main course salads on offer utilising vegan cheeses, tofu, ancient grains, seeds, nuts and vegetables such as butternut squash, kale and celeriac.
After the expense of Christmas, many customers will also be seeking out lower-spend per head items, such as soups, flatbreads and paninis at lunchtimes, so offer some enticing options for these like white bean, avocado, sun blush tomato, lime and smoked tofu panini or red lentil or beetroot ball sub, using vegan black pudding, with cucumber, mint and pear slaw.
You may want to consider packaging up a sandwich/soup and soft-drink or low/no alcohol beer as a set-price offer during January.
Be a vegan burger king
With burgers the top-selling dish in pubs, offer exciting vegan-friendly burgers such as a pre-prepared burger like Moving Mountains or make your own, such as this delicious beetroot burger made with grated beetroot and vegan black pudding V-Pud,
Catch sales from "seagans"
With the number of seagans, those following a largely plant-based diet combined with sustainable seafood, also on the rise, January is also an ideal time to introduce more dishes which will appeal to these diners.
Check if the fish you are using has a good sustainably rating and get ideas for what has here:
Try this recipe of scallops, cauliflower, apple and caramelised onion for a stunning specials board option.
Be resourceful: Smoked salmon and turkey leftovers
Smoked salmon is a key ingredient on festive menus, so use any leftovers in dishes such as frittatas, or smoked salmon hash browns with poached eggs as a brunch dish, or combine with leftover broccoli to make mini fishcakes, which can be frozen and used on childrens’ menus.
With roast turkey also filling the ovens of many pub kitchens, utilise any leftovers and maximise your GP by making turkey, cranberry and chestnut pies and pastries, or turkey and ham pasties and hand raised pies, which can be served warm as part of a sharing board or as a bar snack.
Other ideas include using leftovers to make soups or turkey burgers or kievs which can be featured on January menus.
Direct Seafoods and Oliver Kay are part of the Bidfresh group,