Menu Writing Lesson 7 – Using Seasonal Produce
There are many benefits to ensuring that the ingredients used on your menus are seasonal. Here, Kitchen CUT Co-Founder John Wood, explains why.
The key points to consider, when thinking about introducing seasonal menus are:
- Reducing costs
- Improving quality and freshness
- Improving guest satisfaction
- Raising the profile of your establishment
- Longer shelf life of ingredients
- Environmental benefits
- Economy and suppliers support
If you are going to the effort of sourcing and buying local and home-grown products you need to let your customers know about it on the menu as well as communicating with them verbally through your service staff.
Generally, seasonal produce purchased locally will cost less – they will be in abundance and suppliers will be able to charge less than similar products that have been imported. Discuss and communicate regularly with your suppliers to find seasonal specials and ask them for regular updates. TOP TIP: It’s also worth asking if they have ‘Seasonal Calendars’ for their produce.
Improving quality and freshness
Simple – products in season taste better and are at the peak of their flavour profile. Again, if you buy locally they have spent less time in store rooms or in trucks before they get to you therefore they will last longer.
Improving guest satisfaction
Always tell your customers about where you buy your local and national products. Name suppliers and regions on your menus – many restaurants devote a page to their suppliers so that customers can read more about them if they wish. Customers like to be reassured that you care about where and what you buy, especially in light of recent media coverage.
Raising the profile of your establishment
Being able to tell your customers and potential customers about your passion and desire to buy seasonal and local products is a huge plus point. Many restaurants and even chains have been working on this for years. Do not miss this opportunity to have something else to tell people about what you do and buy. Do not get left behind!
Longer shelf life of Ingredients
The less time between field or farm and your establishment the longer it will last in your fridges. This improves shelf life and reduces wastage.
We all should be considering the environment more and try to reduce wastage, transportation and production costs. Buying local will help with this. (Read our free guide to reducing waste and understand how it can not only benefit the environment, but also save you a lot of money!).
Economy and supplier support
The current economic situation has a big effect on the service industry – levels of business can reduce, customers are more discerning and as costs rise, we struggle to keep our margins and profits in line. Every little helps and if we start to use local and national suppliers more we are going to be supporting growth in our own areas and our own country. Whilst importing ingredients may sometimes be cheaper invariably they will not always be better.
There will be products that are not grown locally or even nationally for various ecological and logistical reasons, therefore we will need to import items for our menus from other countries. However, if you can buy locally or nationally and even substitute products on your menus, you can make a difference.