12 tips of Christmas

Let’s make this unusual festive season a special one. Follow our tips from chefs and bar owners to create a real celebration

1. Brine the turkey

“Turkey has a reputation for being quite dry but that doesn’t have to be the case. I always brine mine to make it really moist. It also adds wonderful flavours throughout the bird and increases the yield. Try this wet brine…
5 litres of water, zest of 1 orange, 1 sprig of rosemary, 4 garlic cloves smashed, 8 white peppercorns, 4 bay leaves, 150g sea salt and 75g soft brown sugar. Soak the turkey for 8-12 hours in the fridge.”
James Birch, Development Chef, Unilever

Brined turkey

2. Upgrade your veggie and vegan party food

Party food for vegetarians and vegans can often be cheese-laden or just a bit dull. Impress your customers with new ideas such as stuffed sweet peppers with olive tapenade or chilli potato skins. Top the skins with chilli made from Garden Gourmet Vegan Mince, vegan or vegetarian blue cheese and apple chutney for a bite-sized treat. They’d also make a perfect starter.

3. Keep it simple

“We like to keep things simple by offering just a few options per course. This means we can focus on making those dishes taste and look amazing. We always have our Christmas sticky toffee pudding on the menu. It’s lighter than the traditional pud.”
Carl Owen, owner of Owen’s restaurant, Ramsbottom

Sticky toffee pudding

4. Speed up service

“When you’re testing recipes, make sure you have your phone to hand. Take pictures of each dish so that anyone in the kitchen can jump on and assist execution. You can print them out for everyone to reference.”
Darren Chapman, Development Chef for Nestlé Professional

5. Give your roasties a twist

Roast potatoes are one of the stars of Christmas dinner (or any roast!). How can you take yours to the next level this year and get customers talking? The answer is Marmite. The umami-packed spread gives the most amazing flavour. This recipe has the power to change even a Marmite-hater’s mind… Try the Marmite Roast Potatoes for yourself.

Marmite roast potatoes

6. Try a new veggie main

More people are following a vegetarian or vegan diet than ever (the number of vegans in the UK doubled between 2016 and 2019 to 600,000 people). This means it’s important to think creatively and divert from the vegetarian lasagne of old to show customers you take vegetarian and vegan food seriously.

This cranberry, bean and lentil bake is a delicious alternative to a nut roast.

7. Choose your drinks carefully

“In these uncertain times, maximise your profits by offering drinks that deliver the biggest return. Think premium as well to capitalise on customers treating themselves”
Sharon Kearney, Cash & Carry Controller, Bacardí

8. Upsell with super sides

“If you have the capacity and staff available, offering inspirational sides is a great opportunity to increase sales in your outlet this festive season. I’d include two or three sides with the main roast and then charge extra for additional ones.”
Mark Rigby, Executive Chef at Premier Foods

Keep things simple by preparing your sides in advance. Try these:

  • Roast cauliflower cheese
  • Spicy red cabbage with apples
  • Maple and mustard roast parsnips
  • Herby Yorkshire puddings with sage.
Red cabbage

9. Be clever with leftovers

Put on lunchtime specials to avoid wasting leftover meat or veggies. An epic festive sandwich is sure to be popular. Try turkey, bacon, brie, sweet pickled red cabbage and Heinz Truffle Mayonnaise. Serve with a gravy dipping sauce.

Another great option is these Turkey and Bacon Croquettes. They make a great lunchtime snack or starter.

10. Get ahead with cocktail pitchers

“Festive sharing serves can be a good way to boost profit, and prebatching pitchers in advance can also reduce contact between bar and guests”

Gareth Lewis, Regional Account Manager, Halewood Wines & Spirits

Cocktail pitcher

11. Load up on snacks

Remember to keep your bar stocked with snacks for a simple sales boost. As well as the classics such as Walkers and Pringles, offer flavoured nuts like KP Spicy Chilli Peanuts or Tyrrells Veg Crisps for something different. Place a selection on the bar to get them noticed.

12. Get involved in local events

“At Christmas in our village, there’s a Victorian Evening. It’s a lovely event where stallholders dress up. We put a stall outside our coffee shop and sell hot drinks, like real flake hot chocolates and winter spiced lattes. People come from miles away so it’s great for spreading the word about our business. Fingers crossed the event will happen this year!”
Dominic Ide, owner at Pallets Tea & Coffee House, Beaulieu

Christmas market
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