Peter Sidwell, executive chef at Rheged Cafe in Cumbria, who was speaking at the 2014 Caffe Culture Show in London, said: “Food is bigger than the beer. Familiarity is key- give people what they know but on a different level.”
He said that providing good quality food doesn’t necessarily mean over packing your menu, but instead it is better to create a smaller number of dishes prepared to an excellent standard.
He said: “Cut your menu down by half and do the rest twice as well and deliver your product to the customer when they want it and how.”
Finding the balance of creating modern dishes that still retain an element of tradition can be difficult and Sidwell prompts finding a method that works best for you as well as the customer. “Nostalgia is a great place to visit, but not to stay. Find a concept and formulate it into something that’s modern and that works for your business.”
For lunch menus Sidwell recommended adding interest by serving soda bread with soups and localising produce and dishes, such as introducing the Marylebone Sausage, the under-utilised traditional London sausage.
With the World Cup fast approaching he urged caterers be adaptable to the needs of customers. He said: “Think about what your customers are doing and when they are doing it. I’m doing food that takes 45 minutes to cook and 15 minutes to eat during half time.”