Article by John King – Project Manager EGCOA
If there’s one thing you can count on when selecting food and beverage menus for the coming season, it’s that tastes and trends are continually evolving. Staying up to date with these trends and integrating them in to your food and beverage strategy will deliver a fresh, modern approach to your clubs dining experience and keep your customers coming back for more.
With this in mind we did some research across the continent and also sat down with Glen Watson – Chef Director at The Belfry to find out what the top trends in food and beverage are right now. Here’s what we dug up:
1. Sustainable Selections, Globalisation to localisation
Selecting food products that are both environmentally and socially responsible is becoming a higher priority for many groups. Restaurants are getting back to basics, sourcing much of their food locally in an effort to support the local community and the demands of their diners. Whilst diners may not directly demand locally produced food they do respect the effort that has been made to source locally.
Many golf courses are now stocking locally crafted wines, beers and condiments and are sourcing their interior décor from local artists. In-house and homemade, no-nonsense food continues to resonate with customers and remains one of the top food trends for 2014.
Taking localisation to another level, The Belfry have been growing their own herbs on site for a number of years and sourcing locally whenever possible. Further to this, they even produce their own honey as a result of thriving ‘Belfry Beehives’
‘We locally source ingredients wherever possible, 19 gales butcher provides all our meat for the Ryder Grill – the farm is literally 10 minutes from the Belfry said Glen. He added, ‘As the food changes in the resort seasonality and availability is adhered to, next will be English asparagus from Oxfordshire!’
He added, ‘Sustainable fish is high on our agenda and when buying and sourcing fish for our menus careful consideration is given to sustainability. With the exception of tiger prawns and tuna we do not put fish on our menus that do not come from British waters’
2. Your health is your wealth – green is now mainstream
Healthy eating is at the top of the agenda for consumers now, more than ever before. Golf courses need to develop marketing strategies that display their healthy efforts. Healthy eating is by no means a new trend but it is one that diners are more and more conscious of, particularly female diners. Smaller portion sizes, low carb options & superfoods are now commonly found on menus.
Food is all about trust and modern diners seek transparency. We see a growing trend in not only nutritional information being presented on menus but also the source location of the produce. Dietary sensitive menus are also on the rise & with increased availability of food for gluten free and organic diners it is now easier and more cost effective to offer these options.
‘Healthy eating is high on people’s agenda now, however it is not always shown in the demand from our customers.’ Said Glen, he added ‘The development of our menus in the resort will offer them the choice to eat this way, or to opt for a higher carb/energy dish instead. We have an Asian chicken salad on our menu that provides a healthy option for customers, and is definitely popular, but alternatively if they want pasta depending on their training regime, then we cater for this as well as the ever popular burger!
We are also seeing an ever increasing number of guests with dietary requirements. It is imperative that catering operations are able to not only meet these, but provide a range of options suitable for the individual.’
3. Rethinking Drinking
From infused spirits to artisan gins, your customers are now more than ever highly educated and particular to the taste and quality of the alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages they consume.
Infusing drinks with natural elements also is a growing trend, diners will see more herbs, organic teas, fresh fruit, and other natural ingredients in their beverages. To mix these trendy concoctions a new breed of bartender has emerged, ‘Bar Chefs’, will work with the culinary team and use fresh ingredients such as lemongrass, cilantro sprigs and cane syrup to create drinks with a natural, perfectly balanced taste.
‘In a bid to involve guests in their dining experience, here at The Belfry we delight guests with our cocktail master classes – an opportunity to not only learn how to extravagantly produce their own cocktails, but also to better understand the taste experience and how the different elements of drinks work to complement each other’, said Glen.
Caffeine, of course, also continues to play an important role at golf club, but now there are now even more ways to provide it. Look for variety of ways to deliver caffeine by providing a variety of espressos and teas. Get creative with the presentation of your coffee and tea. With the boom in coffee culture there are countless suppliers to source trendy glass and ceramic tea and coffee glassware.
4. Interactive Presentation
Thanks to the phenomena of Master Chef and the boom in trendy cooking shows, we have become a society who love watch food being prepared. Not only has this phenomena created a generation of ‘’foodies’’ is has also turned diners into modern, savvy consumers who are not only aware of the how their food is prepared but also the quality and variety of ingredients being used.
Not every restaurant can cater for live preparation of food due to kitchen design restrictions, however it can be integrated into your operation using action stations to create a relaxed atmosphere that encourages socializing. Action stations can also be more economical than plated meals, because guests only ask for what they want.
5. Belt Tightening Budgets
It’s no surprise that current economic conditions are requiring belt-tightening when it comes to food and beverage, but there are many creative ways to deal with these slimmed down budgets without sacrificing quality.
Firstly it’s important to take the time to review design of your menu in terms of the money makers and budget breakers. It is key to frequently analyse the dishes and menu items that are the best sellers and make simple steps to make these more prominent on the menu itself.
Studies have shown that diners hold menu attention for 90 seconds. That doesn’t give you a lot of time to highlight the items from which you stand to gain the most profit. If your menu descriptions read like a book, they aren’t going to captivate the diner who’s used to social media.
Keeping on the healthy note, creative vegetarian menu items made with seasonal vegetables and produce can be a big hit with diners and huge cost savers for your restaurant.
Whether you manage your restaurant yourself or you sub lease the operation, these are 5 simple steps that will breathe life into and create a buzz around your food and beverage operation this season.