The Operator of the Year for Menu Development, sponsored by Unox, recognises that kitchens aren’t just places for operators to prepare food for customers or guests — they are also a test-bed for devising new menus, product creations and dishes.
This honour will therefore be contested by operators that have enhanced, improved or grown their menus over the past year, recognising the investment that goes into making this happen.
We are delighted to announce that the 2020 shortlist includes the following operators:
Butcombe Brewing Co.
Tours of its famous Bristol brewery might be suspended until 2021, but the pub chain’s kitchens have been busy strengthening their reputation for quality, seasonal fare that’s sustainable, traceable and local. Despite the current climate, the company has continued to develop its menu with new and innovative offerings that appeal to all age demographics and offer value for money. The company’s desire to cook with its own beers and pair them with food has become a key feature of its menu. River Fowey steamed mussels in cider and bacon, served with crusty white bread and Netherend Farm butter is just one example of the sort of dishes to grace its latest menus.
Installation of the latest high-speed ovens and food merchandisers provided the backbone for the most significant menu revamp in Caffe Nero’s history. Its ‘Nero Deli’ offer features open sandwiches with Italian-sourced ingredients and salad bowls that rotate through the seasons to inject colour to mini pizzas and pork and pancetta sausage rolls. 14 new freshly-prepared product lines that can be served hot or cold, as well as a whole new line of vegetarian, vegan and sweet dishes, were also included in the revamp, which has been supported by a detailed review of equipment, crockery and training to ensure the smooth roll-out across hundreds of stores.
Domino’s Pizza Group
With customer preferences changing, Domino’s pizza chefs have been tucked away in its test kitchen perfecting the recipe to ensure its vegan-friendly range recreates the unique taste of the chain’s famous original dough. The results of those efforts have seen the company roll out its Vegan Magherita and Vegi Supreme pizzas to 1,200 stores after an initial trial involving 46 outlets. During the trial, vegan customers asked the company to create a version of its popular Garlic & Herb dip. That was a challenge its food innovation team duly accepted, perfecting a worthy equivalent that has now been introduced to menus nationwide.
With more people taking on a plant-based diet than ever before, Papa John’s has focused on adding new items to its menu, including Jackfruit Pepperoni and The Vegan Works pizzas, the latter of which is topped with vegan sausage, portobello mushrooms and green peppers. For a limited period it also launched the Breakfast pizza, which came with a beans base, as well as four completely new fiery pizza options that enhanced its summer menu following the earlier success of its Bee Sting pizza. As a brand, Papa John’s actively encourage customer feedback and this heavily influences the work that its new product development team carry out in the kitchen.
The launch of TGI Fridays’ ‘Famous at Fridays’ menu gives a nod to the classic dishes that originally helped the chain makes its name, including the return of pot stickers, cobb salad and loaded potato skins. Core to the simplified and enhanced menu is an investment in quality, fresh ingredients and a focus on provenance. The introduction of beef from Scotch Assured farms and Red Tractor-certified chicken to the menu supports the emphasis on quality and sustainability, while a newly-developed burger made with truffle and black garlic aioli, stilton cheese and crispy bacon proved immediately popular with customers. The simplified menu has also led to reduced food wastage among its kitchen teams.
Eligible senior industry professionals will be invited to vote for their winner in an online vote over the next two weeks.
The winners of each category will be announced throughout Kitchen Equipment & Awards Week, which commences Monday 30 November.