Taste Cork's Electric Breakfast Part 2:
Plan! Plan! Plan!
And the Nutri Bullet Generation.
|The 12 Mile Menu on a plate at Sage. (Photo 2014)|
It may have been the morning after the night before for Kevin Aherne. But Kevin, who had rushed back from Killarney having seen his Midleton restaurant Sage named as the best in Cork at the Irish Restaurant Awards, was well up for for the Taste Cork Breakfast Seminar in Electric on Wednesday morning.
Once you have your idea fixed, Plan, Plan, Plan. That was his advice to would-be producers and restaurateurs. “It is the same as in the restaurant kitchen: preparation, preparation, preparation!
Kevin's own big idea was of course, his 12 Mile Menu. That came after Sage had been open for three years. So they closed while the new idea was formed and got going again when it was fully formed.
|Jen O'Mahony, Bean Brownie, Kevin O'Connell, Forage and Find,|
and Sarah Sexton, Bean Brownie
So number one for Kevin was to get “your idea”. Why did he not call his plan the Local Menu or the Artisan Menu. “Because those words, though still popular and though they still mean something, are losing weight.”
Once your idea is there and you believe in it, it is now time to get it marketed, to get the message across to your customers. In his case, the restaurant was the platform and he used it to highlight the high level of great produce in East Cork and indeed in Cork county.
“Producers don't always get the credit they deserve”. Up to 26 producers are supplying Kevin's 12 Mile Menu at present and you'll see many of their photos - in work situations - on the walls of Sage.
|Declan Daly, Cork County Council, Mary Daly, Food Safety Company,|
and Rebecca O'Keeffe, Taste Cork
Small producers have to put up with food fraud from time to time with one outlet or another saying this is the genuine article or maybe buying the genuine thing for a week or two and then substituting an import. “It is important that the food label is true. No respect for bullshitters!”
Even though successful, there are always pointed questions. “You don't get everything from within the 12 miles, do you? Why not 20 miles?” Kevin is well used to them by now. He confirmed that all fresh produce comes from within the 12 mile limit; his poultry supplier is on the limit at 11.99 miles! But Kevin has no problem with someone having a twenty miles limit or a fifty mile limit. Not every part of the country has such a concentration of producers as has East Cork. Indeed, Kevin's great idea is obviously open for replication elsewhere.
More about Sage and its 12 Mile Menu here
|Paul O'Brien, Bunnyconnellan Bar and Restaurant,|
and Shannon Keane, Diva Boutique Bakery and Cafe,
After the traditional full Irish (full Cork) at Electric, Mary Daly (of the Food Safety Company) had the task of diverting minds to Changing Trends in Food. “Take the Healthy Option for instance. Smart food operators are onto it. Free From is part of it but much more than that. Lifestyle factors come into it and there are a growing number with allergy intolerance, 10% suffering from it and 20% who think they are! It represents a significant opportunity for the food sector”.
Take the Lifestylers, the “Nutri-Bullet generation”. “They eat out regularly, not necessarily high-end. So promoting healthy foods (less processed, less fattening food) will retain your lifestyle audience.”
“What is driving Free From? How do you give it to them? Eighteen per cent of them chose to eat healthier, not because to have to….they want great taste, guilt free treats and small portions.”
“Calories on menus are coming,” she has no doubt. “Most operators are responding to trends, keen to do the right thing, even if calorie counts aren't that popular. Listen to your customers: clean food, clear labels, and healthy options for kids. Make it your marketing message. It is what the customer wants; this is not a fad.”
Read more on Mary’s thoughts on Food Trends here.
For more background on Taste Cork's Breakfast Seminar see Part One .