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BII Menu Matters – January 2020

Dean Kinsey, development chef at Oliver Kay Produce, part of the Bidfresh Group, offers ideas for January/February menus, including creative potato dishes and Valentine’s Day.

What’s hot for 2020: As we head into 2020 the trend for plant-based dishes continues to be key in catering for both vegan consumers and the growing number of flexitarians, who continue to demand interesting options, packed with flavour. Meat-like veg including jackfruit, aubergine and different varieties of mushrooms will continue to be popular, as well as seitan and tofu in devising dishes.

Other ingredients on-trend for this year include sea greens such as seaweed, samphire and sea aster, pineapple, more unusual varieties of melon such as Amarillo and Charentais, sexy salads with vivid coloured veg and leaves and Japanese produce such as Tatsoi, rainbow pears and lotus roots, with the Tokyo Olympics predicted to further grow appetites for Japanese-inspired dishes. 

Pub caterers should also look to reference the health-benefits of produce in their menu descriptions, such as gut-friendly greens or immunity boosting oranges and also continue to focus on Insta-worthy fruit, veg and salads.

For more ideas on produce on-trend for 2020, including fish, meat and cheese trends, see the Bidfresh 2020 Vision – Food Trends Report

Seasonal produce ideas: Brussels sprouts are not just for Christmas, so make sure you continue to utilise them while during their peak season until mid-February.

Ideas for using these Marmite of veg, include this vegan-friendly, zero-waste dish ‘Just Sprouts’ which utilises all parts of the sprout plant and delivers a great GP. It can be served as a stunning side or starter.

Get the recipe here:

February is also a great time of year for cabbages like Savoy, which can be cooked simply and served with bacon as a tasty side or to accompany fish like stone bass. It also works well deep-fried to make a crispy seaweed texture.

Blood oranges are also now available and are ideal for adding interest to dessert menus, an with their red flesh make an ideal ingredient for Valentine’s Day desserts such as granitas, sorbets and ice cream.

Pak choi is also in season in February and can help bring some on-trend Asian inspired impact to fish dishes. It is delicious steamed and covered in sesame oil and seeds.

Spuds to like

Potatoes like Maris Piper are another ingredient to embrace at this time of year - look beyond side dishes and create some exciting and hearty main course dishes with a great GP.

This tempting recipe of crispy potato skin stuffed with potato and leek risotto makes the potato the star of the show, with the potato risotto filling made in the same way as the rice dish and then stuffed inside a crispy skin to provide a different flavour and texture. The leeks pay homage to the classic leek and potato soup.

Get the recipe here:

With Burn’s Night fast approaching on Saturday, 25 January, why not feature this innovative brunch dish, which again uses potato as a star player, of tattie scones, Lorne sausage, slow cooked eggs and whisky hollandaise which will offer a specials board stunner.

Get the recipe here:

Event ideas: Valentine’s Day, 14 February

The annual celebration of love takes place on a Friday this year, so is likely to be an extra busy one. Add pink and purple colours to your menu with elements such as beetroot purée or dishes like violet and Greek yoghurt sorbet. Yorkshire forced rhubarb, ideal for February menus, is also perfect for Valentine’s dishes from salads to desserts.

Focus also on indulgent ingredients such as quality, high cocoa content chocolate and known aphrodisiac ingredients like oysters, figs, basil, chilli, ginger and strawberries to help add interest to your menu.

Interactive sharing dishes are a good option for Valentine’s menus so look to offer sharing dishes such as platters of seacuterie or funky crudities with a dipping cheese.

Tables of two can be problematic for pubs with lots of bigger tables, so try and get as much spend per head as you can from couples by upselling cocktails on arrival, bottles of fizz as part of the dinner package or additional interesting vegetable or salad side dishes with mains.

On-trend ingredient: Nutritional yeast

This deactivated yeast, which has a nutty, savoury, cheesy flavour, is ideal for vegan dishes and has multiple uses across the menu, adding a parmesan cheese-like impact to dishes. Use it in anything from bar snacks like nacho cheese kale chips to vegan-friendly Mac and Cheese and tofu dishes. Check out Oliver Kay’s range of vegan ingredients at 

It is also ideal for non-vegan dishes, such as coating lamb belly pieces for skewer dishes.

Be resourceful: A new year is a great time to focus on sustainability, an area increasingly important to your customers. This includes having a good food waste strategy looking at how you can continue to reduce leftovers and costs by making simple but effective changes. Look at utilising every part of an ingredient in dishes, such as this specials board dish of triple cooked potato and black truffle, which utilises the whole potato, including using a julienne peeler to make match sticks of potato to serve with the dish.

Get the recipe here:

Potato peelings should also be saved from the bin as they can make a great bar snack with toppings such as seasalt and rosemary or can be used to garnish meat dishes. They can also be used in soups, along with leftover smoked fish or bacon and ham. Use leftover baked potatoes to create filled potato skins for a starter or bar snack dish or to make hash browns for brunch dishes.

Oliver Kay and Direct Seafoods are part of the Bidfresh Group,