What is it that visitors to Britain want to do most? Tourists surveys show that, alongside visiting the Tower of London and seeing the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, very close to the top of the list for many is visiting a ‘proper’ British pub and eating a traditional dish such as fish and chips or sausage and mash, ideally accompanied by a pint of bitter.
Of course it’s not just tourists who love the British food. Surveys also show that our classic British dishes, from a sandwich to a Sunday roast, are at the top of the list for most consumers when they eat out. So why do the media all too often use descriptions such as ‘ordinary’, ‘basic’ or ‘run-of-the-mill’ to describe such dishes?
British cuisine, especially when compared to French, used to be dismissed as bland and a bit ordinary. There’s now a recognition that both British produce and traditional British dishes are amongst the best in the world, and British Food Fortnight is a great way for restaurants, pubs and hotels to celebrate that fact.
British Food Fortnight is now underway, running until October 5. Operators can use the opportunity to promote the British food already on their menu, as well as to create a specials boards focusing on British and local produce. The organisers of British Food Fortnight suggest setting a target of at least five locally sourced dishes on your menu.
This is also a great time to be buying British food and drinks because the weather has been very kind to growers this year, so availability is good, quality of produce high and value for money excellent. Hospitality operators should be planning their menus around seasonal fruit and veg wherever possible, not just during British Food Fortnight but across the autumn and into the Christmas trading period.
While many British chefs now focus on our traditional dishes, and the quality of food is often excellent, consumers sometimes need reminding. There are some easy ways for operators to put this right:
- Highlight British Food on your menu by naming producers rather than simply using the term “local”;
- People love provenance: Use geographic descriptions on menus wherever you can – From Welsh lamb to Suffolk pork and Whitby scampi, you might be surprised how much of your menu already has provenance you can promote;
- Talk it up: Use terms such as ‘local’, ‘in season’, ‘fresh’, and ‘homemade’ wherever you can to highlight dishes on the menu;
- Celebrate it all: There’s a whole calendar’s worth of special events such as British Food Fortnight to spotlight your menu. You can even invent your own celebrations – it’s not just bangers and mash, it’s a Sausage Festival!
We regularly put our customers in touch with catering suppliers who deal with great local and seasonal produce, from fresh meat and fish to the finest quality fruit and vegetables. Whether its recipe ideas, preparing the produce to the operator’s specification, or day-to-day advice on the best value products, make sure you work with suppliers who will help you to get the very Best of British.
John Pinder, managing director, Lynx Purchasing