Introducing the development chefs of your New World
October 16th, 2019
Our brand new autumn menu is set to hit your tables on Tuesday 22nd October at your local Botanist. At The Florist, the new menu is already satisfying appetites in Bristol, ready to go live on the 23rd October in Watford and then hit Liverpool on October 30th.
With so much thought, planning and deliciousness gracing our newest menus we thought it would be fun to delve into the depths of the kitchen and find out just what it takes to develop a new menu and where it all starts, so we spoke to our Executive Chef, James Scott and his incredible Kitchen Operations team; John Guthrie, Eddie Berkolds, Ash Woolmer, Guy Greaves, Andy Robson and James Bold.
Here's 7 questions around how they get these menus off the ground and where they begin when planning menu developments...
1. Where do you start when planning a new menu?
“When doing a menu change, there’s quite a lot of pre-planning that goes into it. We start with an agreed menu brief on what we want to achieve, this is usually a meeting across all involved with the brand. We also look at seasonality, sales, feedback from reviews and staff before we start writing down some ideas to get the first paper draft of the menu, this allows us to start making some dishes which will spark other ideas, a dish that we wrote down could end up being completely different from the first draft.”
"I am always thinking of ways to improve our menu, long before the process begins."
2. How do you choose which dishes to start from?
“Each dish is scored out of 5 on its look, taste, portion size, impact and delivery - we also look for a ‘wow’ factor in at least one of these categories. The benchmark score for a dish to hit the menu is 20. It is also important that we have enough and a variety of vegan, gluten free and dairy free dishes."
3. Where do you come up with the dishes?
“We go through the pre-planning process which allows us to make a start, once we are in the kitchen things happen, the best thing about menu development is working with people who are like-minded - pushing each other and trying each other’s ideas - this is where the best direction comes from as you may have a good idea and someone will say “what if we….” Our staff also send me ideas and sometimes all I need is a visual cue to go forward with an idea."
"Also, sometimes it’s very late at night on the evening before the cook off, when the pressure is on, and inspiration lands so we go with it and more often than not some good dishes come out of it!”
4. What are the main things you take your inspiration from?
“We aim to keep ahead of everything going on with new food trends. I look through books and do the research, especially when it’s a new cuisine for me, like The Florist. But most importantly, we take inspiration from each other, bouncing ideas off each other in the kitchen.”
5. Why have you chosen these dishes?
“Sometimes it's emotional. We put a lot of ourselves into the food, so could be influenced by memories or things we like to eat. We also have the scoring system to allow us to take a more logical approach to the dishes as well as the emotional side. Predominantly, they are on the menu because we think they are great!”
6. Do you have a favourite dish and why?
James – “It’s too hard to choose for me as we have so many, and as I do all brands it’s hard to pin down. With that being said, the new Nutella and Biscoff bread and butter pudding is pretty special, I’m sure each of the chefs will have their own favourite”.
Eddie – “Yeah, my favourite dish on the new menu is probably the jackfruit curry, it’s so full of flavour and tastes amazing”.
7. What excites you the most about this menu?
Eddie – “I’m excited about how diverse the new menu is for different requirements, it opens up our menu and restaurant to a larger customer base by having these new options”.
James – “If we are talking about The Botanist, I like the fact that we are bringing that quirky but very very tasty pub food back to it. Cool presentation which is a massive improvement on what we used to do and the food is genuinely the best we have done so far! For The Houses it’s the new sandwiches and we’ve added lots more vegan options to an already great menu. With The Florist, it’s the fact that we have addressed the customer's feedback with a menu that is absolutely delicious and a bit cheeky."
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