Surprise or be devoted to tradition? To tempt with beautiful designer interiors or folksy climate? Or maybe, in order to attract guests to the restaurants some concept is worth being promoted ? All about, that works well in gastronomy in 2013, and which trends really govern it, tells Mariusz Tkaczyk, gastronomy specialist in Qubus Hotels chain.
In order to distinguish oneself among the restaurants, which are functioning on local markets it is vital to offer something original, not present in the city yet. Nevertheless, it is more difficult to hold good position. This is where quality is the most important, both in served dishes and staff. Guests are sensitive to how they are attended to in the restaurants. Even if the food is delicious, but service poor, meals served too late etc. such clients will just not come back.
ADEQUATE TRAINING AND STANDARDS FOR KITCHEN AND SERVICE STAFF
Standards are very important especially in the chain restaurants . In these smaller ones it can just be a proper training programme which implements a new person in the characteristics of restaurant's performance. If it comes to the kitchen, I would say, that proper training for chefs is the basis. All in all, you come to eat well to the restaurant, and such courses develop the skills of kitchen staff and what comes with it, they boost their creativity. Recently our chain in cooperation with Unilever organised a huge contest for Qubus Hotel chefs. During the contest it turned out that not only they have fun but also the opportunity to present their own original ideas. Inspiration from such contest can be easily used afterwards, in implementing new dishes.
When it comes to composing the munu, a very good idea is using seasonal products. It results in changing the menu regularly, meaning at least twice a year . We can also add so called, seasonal menu, in which we present only few positions, valid eg. for 3 months. So, for instance in summer, soups are replaced with coolers, and meats with lighter salads. What works well in autumn is traditional Polish cuisine. Spring is of course the time of spring vegetables, asparagus also becomes more and more popular.
Very interesting trend, which I am personally very happy with , is that traditional Polish cuisine finally becomes popular. In our restaurants situated in eg. Cracow, or Silesia we very often implement regional menus. They always attract huge interest. In Katowice eg. Silesian cuisine works well, and in ‘Ogień' restaurant in Cracow we reported great sales of dishes inspired by Cracovian cuisine. Regionalism is also a nod given to Polish meat, such as venison, duck or deer meat. Thus, something less accessible also works well. It is not surprising because guests of the restaurants like to experiment.
NATURAL INGREDIENTS AND HEALTHY FOOD
Unfortunately fast foods have not sunk into oblivion yet but the tendency towards healthier dish offers is being observed. Just as we read food labels more and more often, we also pay bigger attention to what we eat in the restaurants. Our guests praise eg. fresh salads with regional goat cheese, or delicate steamed vegetables. We also try to reduce fat in our dishes. In the preparation of eg. brisket chicken we use ‘sous vide', technique, which is an element of the molecular kitchen. It is based on vacuum meat packaging, together with fresh rosemary , lemon and spices, and then boiled in low temperature water. Seeing our guests' interest in ecological products we started cooperating with ecological farm, where we buy hand made cheese. In two hotels we also have cold meat from our own smokehouses.
Few years ago I observed a growing interest in Japanese and Asian cuisine. At this moment in every city we can find so called. ‘Chinese'. What is more, pizza or doner kebab have become Polish everyday food. Although these dishes are popular, when going to the restaurants, guests want to discover something new and unusual, which is why it is essential to benefit from less popular cuisines. What I mean, is Armenian or Georgian inspirations. An example may be our idea of introducing Georgian cuisine dishes to the summer menu. Khachapuri, khinkali, or barbecue pork neck for the first month have already produced half of the last year's seasonal menu sales.
MENU FOR KIDS
Although it seems obvious, many restaurants have not introduced dishes for kids. It is a very important element in the menu. Our restaurants are visited by many families with children, and we can see their satisfaction when we give them kids menu with the favourite dishes for the youngest such as tomato soup, chicken loin or buttery mashed potato dumplings.