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Menu Matters February: Fresh Thinking

Inspiration for pub caterers from Laurence Tottingham, development chef at Oliver Kay Produce, whose CV includes Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck and Hinds Head pub.


Seasonal produce ideas for your menu this season:

It is a great time of year to put lovely fresh ingredients on the menu, with lots of vibrant shoots and vegetables available.

Make the most of indoor-grown English tomatoes and Lancashire strawberries, which are both packed with flavour and add colour to Spring menus.

Asparagus from the Wye Valley is a menu must, great just served really simply with a wild garlic (available from end of Feb) or herb mayo and poached egg, or use it in asparagus soup, risotto and pasta dishes. It goes really well with lamb on Spring menus or served as a bar snack with a seasonal dip, and in fresh lunchtime salads.

Why not try this fresh rhubarb, asparagus and pea shoot salad?

Click for recipe

Jersey royals are a delicious addition to menus now – add some parsley and butter or wild garlic butter or just some salt and pepper to help them stand out.


Event opportunity
St George’s Day and Easter menus:

Easter menus should focus on new life and youth, so featuring egg and lamb dishes or poussin is ideal .

Nothing beats a roast leg of lamb roasted gently over a long period of time. My favourite lamb cut at present is lamb chump.

Menu ideas include lamb chump, harissa crushed potatoes with minted peas and lettuce in a smoked butter.

Get the recipe here 

Hoggett is also a great meat to use and is packed full or flavour. Use it to make a ham and serve with quince, pastes and pickles.

For a winning Easter pudding this Cadbury’s Crème Egg chocolate fondant is a great Easter twist on a classic tasty pud.

Get the recipe here 

For St George’s Day, why not hero St George’s mushrooms, a great spring mushroom available either side of St George’s day. Serving ideas include mushrooms on toast with a twist of beer bread made with roasted malt. The mushrooms are also lovely utilised in risottos and ravioli, or work well served with lamb, veal, turbot and halibut.


On-trend ingredient:

Jack fruit is a great ingredient for vegan dishes as the fruit soaks up flavour well and has a “meat-like” texture when cooked. Among serving ideas are jack fruit croquets served with Frenchy’s mustard mixed with vegan mayo or a Jack fruit chilli.

See recipe here 


Be Resourceful
Stephen Oswald, CEO of Bidfresh and a Master of Studies in Sustainability Leadership, offers some sustainability tips:

  • Focusing on sustainability is more important than ever for pub operators because Millennials have an increased awareness of the issues – look at the growth of vegetarianism and veganism. You may not think everyone cares about sustainability issues, but it only needs one person in a group who objects to your venue serving Spiny Dogfish  - an endangered shark classed as vulnerable to extinction which recent news reports found on UK menus - for example, and then their whole group won’t use you.
  • With ever increasing costs the search for more margin is key – adopting a sustainable approach by conserving energy and materials will help to reduce costs. Look to recycle, reduce plastics and reduce food waste by taking simple steps, ordering frequently so as to avoid over ordering.
  • Everyone thinks sustainability is about sourcing sustainable prawns from some exotic supplier, but being more sustainable is also about turning off lights and taps, and not switching your ovens on at 8am in the morning just to warm up.
  • Licensees looking to inspire their teams around sustainability should establish the objectives clearly and the reasons why they are important to achieve. It is also important to lead by example.
  • Be innovative – such as the hotel in Tromso, Norway that uses slightly smaller breakfast plates and moves food left in the bottom of buffet dishes into smaller bowls so it looks fresher and reduces waste.
  • Ensure you have a quality vegetarian and vegan offering - one vegan will dictate where a group eats.


Oliver Kay Produce is part of the Bidfresh group. For more information go to