Jonathan Taylor, the team’s culinary lead, is a former Royal Navy Chef and proud Yorkshireman, which goes some way to explaining his passionate, plain speaking and no nonsense approach to delivering the right solutions for his customers.

While he has a preference for classic cooking over water baths and molecular gastronomy, he’s at his happiest when he’s on the look-out for new trends and understanding how he can develop them to meet your needs.

How do I capitalise on the Casual Dining trend?

Whatever sector you cater to there is an increasingly strong argument for introducing some influences or learnings from the casual dining sector. While it may have been inspired by a few operators selling food out of vans in London, it’s now very much mainstream and from what we’ve seen, consumers are expecting to see things like ‘topped chips’ everywhere they go, not just in their local independent burger joint.

We were at the Casual Dining Show recently and it’s clear that not only are topped chips a key menu item, the competition to deliver something that stands out from the crowd is intense. We had queues around the exhibition hall with customers seeking inspiration from our menu, which included Poutine made with McCain Gastro Thick Cut Chips, Sweet Potato Fries and salted caramel sauce, and Skin on Fries with Chinese style salt and pepper seasoning, tossed with spring onion and red peppers.

There are some clear opportunities to transfer these type of dishes to the higher education sector but because the concept is so flexible, it is easily adaptable for other sectors by simply switching the toppings. We’ve been meeting with a number of customers to explore how it might work so expect variations on this theme to start springing up.

If you’re not already thinking about doing it in some form, you should be. Coming up with your own toppings adds interest to the menu and gives you a point of difference against competitors, even if they also serve topped chips.  It’s a high volume menu item you already serve and enables you to deliver extra margin, simply by offering it as a trade up option. What’s not to like?

For more ideas and to see how McCain Foods can help your business, visit the new McCain website or contact the foodservice team:

Tel: 0800 146 573 (GB)
1800 409 623 (ROI)