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Valentine’s Day, will the FreeFrom customer love your menu?
Valentine’s Day is around the corner and provides the next chance to shine and explore options for inclusive menu development. Is your business maximising its opportunity to capture its share of this ready and willing clientele?
The majority of advice for the FreeFrom customer appears to be to call in advance, check the allergen policy, inform venues of dietary requirements and discuss alternatives. Of course listing allergens on the menu is invaluable for customers, but are your staff equipped to deal with the questions that may arise and informed to give the customer the possible options?
An allergy sufferer is very unlikely to take a risk and make a booking if the responses they get are that staff ‘aren’t sure’ or that ‘we may be able to’ or ‘I am sure we can do a fruit salad for you’. Why not go one step further and incorporate substitutes into your menu rather than amended dishes, such as a dairy free ice cream and gluten free bread.
The best option to appeal to as many customers as possible would be to develop dishes which exclude such allergens all together and shout about it. If publishing your valentines or regular menu online, why not highlight and promote the allergen friendly options you have available so that customers can make informed choices.
When carrying out an internet search for ‘Allergy Friendly Valentines Menu’, only one venue came up in the search results, The Roebuck Inn, Wickham, Hampshire. Not only have The Roebuck developed a valentines menu which caters for and takes into account a variety of dietary requirements including homemade allergen free truffles, their regular menu is just as inclusive for the FreeFrom diner and when given advance notice many items can be adapted to suit your diet.
As allergy sufferers in the main do significantly more research about venues, think what opportunities are being missed by not appearing in such internet searches.
We have highlighted some suppliers in the newsletter which we hope you will find useful in sourcing some allergy friendly products for Valentine’s Day.
In the news
It would appear that the value, diversity and popularity of Coconut products continues into 2016. Coconut flour has been expanding its presence in several major supermarkets this month and whilst coconut flour needs adjusting for grain flour recipes, there are lots of recipes available using coconut flour, giving the food service industry another viable alternative. There are many recipe sources, this website in particular has a broad spectrum, all of which are kitchen tested.
Both high street bakery chains Greggs and Patisserie Valerie look set to expand the options for food-on-the-go as they announce that they are set to launch a line of gluten free products in 2016. Whilst Patisserie Valerie feel confident that the provision of gluten free choices will not be affected by cross contamination.
Greggs however have rightfully acknowledged that they will be looking at trialling their provision as they cannot be sure that cross contamination issues can be avoided, thus demonstrating their recognition of this important factor of allergen food provision.
Focus on dairy free
Within the Food Services industry, FreeFrom dietary provision tends to favour the gluten free customer, but surprisingly dairy is in fact the most commonly experienced allergy or intolerance in the UK. It makes sense therefore to broaden menu offerings to take into account this wider population, which could also cater for Vegan diners too.
Whilst coffee shops for example are starting to increase their provision of dairy substitutes in drinks, dairy and lactose free is yet to be readily available in the majority of venues.
Yes you can provide meals which exclude dairy products but what about providing the same meals but with a substitute, as you would with gluten free bread or pasta such as pizza. Appreciate concerns of things going off / not the demand, but the cheese that can be frozen and grated. Dairy free ice-creams, can get products that tick both the gluten and dairy free box so you can provide for two requirements- Download our Milk information sheet by clicking here to keep and use as a training resource.
Our guest recipe this month has been provided by Dominic Teague, executive chef at One Aldwych’s Indigo restaurant. In 2015 Dominic created an innovative new menu of hearty seasonal fayre, carefully sourced from the British Isles, but which also happens to be entirely gluten and dairy free.
Dominic initially decided to not publicise the fact that the restaurant had become gluten and dairy free, as Dominic states “This is not about jumping on the latest food fad – the priority has always been to create beautifully prepared, simply delicious dishes without compromising on quality ingredients or taste. That they happen to be gluten and dairy free are a bonus”
Dominic Teague has kindly provided us with a recipe for a desert they serve at Indigo, a chocolate mousse served with honeycomb, chocolate and sea salt cookies and an almond milk ice cream. Could this be an option for your Valentine’s menu? The recipe can be found here.
Ready for National Yorkshire Pudding Day why not try this gluten free batter mix recipe.Click here
Taking into account both gluten free and dairy free, this recipe for scones and cream would be a good addition to any menu. Click here
Want to offer pancakes for the gluten free customer? Simply replace the flour in a regular batter recipe with a gluten free flour such as Doves Farm.
With all the recipes provided here, processes should still be followed to avoid cross contamination.
Dates for your Diary
Does your venue need to think about how to embrace and cater for the FreeFrom customer for the following?
- Shake your Wakeup – National Breakfast Week 24th – 30th January.
- National Yorkshire Pudding Day 7th February.
- Chinese New Year 8th February.
- Shrove Tuesday 9th February.
We are attending Hotelympia 29th February – 3rd March? Come along and see us at our joint stand with the NCCO, we would love to see you.