Consumer research from KAM suggests almost 30% of consumers intend to visit restaurants more often this holiday season, even when compared to pre-covid levels, there is likely to be huge demand for these celebrations.
With research suggesting one in three people are looking to make Christmas ‘bigger and better’ than ever this year - Creed has pulled out the stops to deliver its best festive collection yet, without ignoring the need for foodservice operators to remain flexible, adaptable and agile.
Rob Owen, executive development at Creed, commented: “Christmas this year is about bringing back the magic for diners, to create an experience that everyone remembers. But, it’s not without a certain amount of caution that operators will go into this season.
“We’ve worked incredibly hard to make our festive range spectacular, introducing an array of new products and dishes, whilst ensuring it works for groups of all sizes and with different dietary requirements and preferences.
“We’re looking forward to supporting our customers this year and are happy to advise on the best way to structure menus to give the wow factor, whilst ensuring they remain manageable for many operating with reduced staff numbers.”
For one and all
Sharing food designed to cater to lots of tastes and preferences is set to be popular this year, particularly amongst bigger groups who want to take the chance to catch up with friends, loved ones and colleagues through an inclusive dining experience.
Small plates are a great way to enjoy a range of flavours and textures, taking inspiration from international food trends that have come to the fore this year. From colourful Japanese gyozas, a happy hangover from the Tokyo Olympics; spicy corn fritters and macaroni bites inspired by Soul Food originating in the southern US states; through to Red Velvet Prawns, vibrant from the addition of beetroot breadcrumbs. Served with dipping sauces such as sweet chilli and sriracha they make for an incredible communal feast.
These tapas-style dishes – which are brand new to the Creed range this year - are not only great to have on a menu as an alternative to a traditional three-course set dinner, but are also brilliant for encouraging impromptu nibbles to go with festive drinks.
For further inclusivity, traditional cheese and charcuterie platters can be adapted to be plant-based grazing plates. For a vegan party platter, opt for plant-based charcuterie including vegan chorizo slices made with pea protein, smoky mushroom pate and fava bean cheese slices.
Spectacular alternative mains
Show stopping mains, that offer an alternative to the usual turkey dinner, are in more demand this season, as consumers are open to trying different centre-plate options. Skin-on seabass fillets are a fantastic choice and are versatile enough to be used in a range of dishes.
Particularly special accompanied by fresh and vibrant oriental flavours, and made all-the-more appealing dressed on a plate with fresh herbs and edible flowers, amongst a fragrant bowl of noodles.
Plant-based centre-pieces will be at the heart of any festive table too. Vegetable wellingtons including Butternut Squash & Beetroot and Carrot & Spiced Marmalade are vibrant and earthy choices – brilliant for vegans, vegetarians and flexitarians alike – or even meat-eaters who fancy a change.
Regardless of the centre-piece, dishes that require interaction with food, such as joints being carved at the table, are sure to be popular as consumers who are looking for a greater connection with others and the shared experience that comes with getting together to dine.
Festive classics with a twist
Christmas classics are indeed not to be forgotten. Hot sandwiches and fully-loaded burgers can be decked with pigs in blankets and Christmas condiments such as homemade sprout and carrot slaw, jewelled with dried cranberries, melted Brie and cranberry sauce. Whilst the traditional turkey dinner can be brought to life with an array of incredible vegetables and a range of meat cuts, from pork belly, through to stuffed turkey joints.
Desserts, takeaway sweet treats and hot drinks are where the festive magic really comes alive and gives an opportunity for operators to pull out all the stops to meet the ‘small indulgences’ trend that we are seeing amongst consumers who are looking to treat themselves little and often after a particularly challenging couple of years.
Jaffa Mountain Cake incorporates the rich citrus flavours associated with Christmas, with a barrel load of delicious chocolate, in a layered sponge with orange mousse, dark chocolate orange truffle and topped with Jaffa Cakes and sponge flooded with truffle.
Black Cherry Charlotte Cake is a new spin on the traditional Black Forest Gateaux with a Kirsch soaked sponge, layered with black cherry compote and cherry mousse, finished with dark chocolate rosettes and shavings.
Operators should take the opportunity to upsell on warm festive drinks this year using a range of flavoured syrups and drink toppings, which are easy to create, meaning weekly Christmas specials can be created and offer customers a reason to visit again and again. From using spices to flavour coffees and hot chocolates, including cinnamon, chai and nutmeg, through to introducing a variety of flavours that add sweetness, such as salted caramel, molasses, honeycomb and dates, it’s important to bring that warm, comforting winter vibe to your offer.
Rich fruit flavours such as black forest cherry, plum and orange are set to be a popular choice, whilst biscuit & marshmallow flavours, reminiscent of s’mores will prove irresistible for those looking for a warming treat.