Food Study Tour: New York - Apple Turnover

By Jo Bruce

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PubChef teamed up with Kitchen Range Foods to offer two licensees an inspirational food-study tour to New York. Jo Bruce reports on how they got on...

PubChef teamed up with Kitchen Range Foods to offer two licensees an inspirational food-study tour to New York. Jo Bruce reports on how they got on

Received wisdom has long held that London has nosed ahead of New York in the culinary stakes.

Imagine the shock in some London kitchens when New York beat London hands down in the Michelin star stakes, with 39

restaurants worthy of the accolade compared to London's 16 in 2005.

Despite this, various NY newspaper journalists were outraged that the award winning restaurants were centred around those that served French food, but of course New York is a melting pot of different culinary influence, including American, Argentinian, barbecue, Brazilian, Cajun, Ethiopian, Japanese, Italian and Thai.

There really is nowhere else quite like New York in terms of diversity. It's the daddy of dining out, although doing it justice result in a super-size me. With more than 23,000 restaurants, diners in the Big Apple have it all, with a plethora of different cuisines, concepts and price points to

choose from.

Earlier this year PubChef ran a competition with combo and light bites supplier Kitchen Range Foods as our educational

partner, for two licensees to win a foodstudy tour of the city.

Our winners were Michelle Crook, chef/ licensee at freehouse the Castle of Comfort in East Harptree, Somerset, and Richard Gordon, general manager of McManus pub the Swan in Lamport, Northants. The pair, who beat dozens of other entrants, impressed judges with their pub menus, with their plans to grow their food business, and with their determination to exploit the opportunity of sharing food on their menu. Also on the trip were PubChef editor Jo Bruce, David Young, marketing director of study-tour sponsor Kitchen Range Foods, and Heather Butcher, PR for Kitchen Range Foods.

"Social nibbling" has become an increasingly- popular trend in the UK with pub customers looking for sharing boards and

combos to enjoy with friends. Many leading pub companies have recognised the profit potential of sharing food and are now offering them on menus. Ha! Ha! Bar and Canteen now offers sharing boards of items such as olives, breads and hams and Greene King also recently launched a tapas range

on its Town Local menus.

Both Michelle and Richard are keen to develop combos and sharing food on their menu and our four-day study tour focused on sharing food concepts as well as taking in some visits to classic and innovative New York eateries and food stores.

Both of our winners will be trialling combo products from Kitchen Range Foods on their pub's menus in the next couple of months. The pair also picked up plenty of new dish and menu concepts during their visit, which both have implemented in their own businesses since the trip to New York in late September.

Among the places visited on our foodstudy tour were the famous Katz's delicatessan, the Oyster Bar at Grand Central Station, upscale food store Dean & Da Luca, values-driven retailer Wholefoods, Indian/fusion restaurant Tabla, chef's hangout the Blue Ribbon Bakery, dining with dolls experience American Girl, and a restaurant where all starters, mains and desserts are shared, called… Share.

In addition our winners visited bars serving combo-style products and chatted to licensees about the impact New York's smoking ban has had on trade.

I'll have what she's having

Katz's Deli, 205 East Houston Street, New York, www.katzdeli.com

Background: As New York chef Anthony Bourdain says: "For whatever mysterious reasons, no other city on the planet does deli like New York."

Katz's Deli in the traditionally Jewish area of New York was established in 1888. Katz's is a true delicatessen, which continues a rare tradition of meat preparation and preservation predating refrigeration. Katz's also played host to Meg Ryan's infamous fake orgasm in film When Harry Met Sally. Katz's declares on its website: "Those who never had our brisket think she was acting."

A sign suspended from the ceiling marks Meg's hot spot, under which tourists and sad trade magazine editors pose.

The deli boasts of a plethora of famous visitors, including four US presidents, and actors Bruce Willis, Barbara Streisand and Ben Stiller. Pics of its famous diners line the walls of this no-frills eaterie. You can choose from table or counter service, and all customers are given a ticket, which they hand in at the counter on the way out.

The deli has become so much of a tourist attraction that Katz's sells its own range of baseball caps, T-shirts and postcards.

On the menu: Dishes include matzo ball soup ($4.65), kasha ($2.65), chopped liver with onion ($6.20), pastrami all day omelette ($11.30) and individual-can tuna salad platter ($9.95). Sandwiches - one of which could feed a family of four - come with pickles on the side, with fillings that include pastrami (handcarved to your own specifications),

corned beef (made to Katz's dry-cure pickling formula), brisket, knoblewurst (garlic beef sausage), Rueben (a

mix of corned beef, Swiss cheese and sauerkraut) and chopped liver

Recommended: potato latkes ($2.50) and pastrami sandwich ($12.45)

Dining with dolls

American Girl Café, 609 Fifth Avenue at 49th Street, New York

Background: Only in America. This store is dedicated to all things dolls, where little girls come to buy dolls that look like them and choose co-ordinating outfits for each other. The store also includes a doll's hospital and hairdresser as well as a café, where visitors have to battle to get a reservation.

The café is open for brunch, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner. But this is no ordinary café, catering as it does for diners who are predominantly women and girls, who enjoy their food in a black and white striped wallpapered restaurant with pink lights. This white linen establishment has its staff dressed in bow ties and white shirts, while napkins are presented in black-and-white polka-dot hair

scrunchies.

Drinks include unlimited pink lemonade, hot chocolate and for the big girls and boys Champagne and beer.

Guests dine with a range of VIPS - a selection of dolls who accompany guests in special chairs at their tables. Girls are also allowed to bring in their own American Girl dolls as dinner guests. And guests are given a box (polka dot patterned of course) of conversation-prompting questions such as: what do you want to be when you grow up; and what is your best feature.

On the menu: Guests are greeted with warm cinnamon buns. A first course of pretzel breadsticks, fresh fruit, cheese triangles, vegetable crudités and cucumber-andcream- cheese florets with a honey-andmustard dip is served, sharing style, for the whole table. It comes on a cake stand, with

the dip served inside a green pepper.

For mains diners select from a choice of bitty bites (mini hamburgers and cheeseburgers) with curly fries and fresh fruit; chicken tenders with creamy macaroni and cheese, honey mustard and fresh fruit kebabs; and tic tac toe pizza.

Desserts include chocolate-mousse flowerpot; miniature chocolate teacup with vanilla cream; and shortbread cookie.

The menu costs $22 per person, plus tax.

Recommended: the Bitty Bites are a top idea for children, as is the sharing starter with the dip encased in the green pepper.

Essential stop

Grand Central Oyster Bar & Restaurant, Grand Central Station

Background: This fantastic oyster restaurant and bar, opened its doors at the Grand Central Terminal in 1913. Over the years it has become one of New York's most celebrated and historic seafood restaurants.

The eaterie is divided into two parts - the restaurant, complete with red and white check tablecloths, and the raw bar, where customers can sit at a counter and order oysters one by one. All customers are served bread, crackers and

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