by Diane Cosgrove
After the pre-Christmas rush, it can be a relief to have some quieter time in the kitchen but for owners and managers of food outlets, there is always the uncertainty of when the crowds will return.
It’s been a turgid year for high street retailers with many well-known names going to the wall or struggling.
The rise of online shopping shows no signs of abating, so getting diners out of the house and into your premises is not going to get easier any time soon.
So how can we get diners off their sofas and into your chairs?
Mintel has reported that in 2019, the trend for sharing platters is still doing well, with 16–25 year olds – Generation Z – leading this.
Sharing platters and comfort foods are laidback, easy ways to encourage shoppers, cinema-goers and passing trade to stop off for a winter warmer and a chat.
And the secret?
Whether it is slathered over nachos, fries or macaroni, cheese sauce transforms anything into the ultimate comfort food.
It is rich, smooth and comforting, visually appealing and tastes so darn good that having one table digging into a big pile of fries smothered in cheese can actually tempt the surrounding tables to order the same.
It keeps tables busy, smiling and chatting, which a great buoyant atmosphere and often another round of drinks.
And it’s been the star of some of the most Instagrammed shots last year.
There are different types of cheese sauce.
A traditional cheese sauce, whether mature or not, lends itself to most bland bases.
Its sharp, salty taste can liven up starchy foods like pasta or potato and encourage eating as finger food, which immediately creates a friendly atmosphere.
And the new kid on the block –
It looks like cheddar (it contains real cheddar), but it manages to run off food whilst clinging it to, which in anyone’s book is a pretty amazing feat.
And that is the beauty of the slightly spicy, very cheesy nacho sauce.
It pours without stickiness, so you get great coverage on the plate or bowl, but you get a good level of cling to the potato, tortilla or waffle that it is served on.
It is thinner than plain cheddar cheese sauce and it is a great way to add value to a fairly bland, plain dish.
It is very popular with children and young people and a mainstay of sharing platters.
Being a cheese sauce, it is a very versatile flavour that can be used in a number of different ways. It can add an extra dimension to the plate with hot dogs, American favourite chicken and waffles and favourite sharing platter cheesy nachos.
But never forget…
This is the “Batman” of sauces – quiet, understated but can really save the day.
In a hot panini or on top of a pizza it gives a hint of buttery saltiness, without overwhelming whatever the filling is meant to be.
It’s also the perfect high-quality base to which to add on-trend flavourings. If ever a superhero was encased in a tetrapak, it has to be our heat and pour Bechamel with Butter Sauce.
Here are a few recipes that will welcome your winter customers into your business.
Cook cauliflower florets till tender. Remove and place in ovenproof dish. Heat Bechamel Sauce and add cheese. Once cheese has melted pour over cauliflower and add remainder of cheese on top. For an even simpler recipes, use Cheddar Cheese Sauce instead of bechamel and cheese.
Cook macaroni pasta then bind in our Nacho Cheese sauce.
Top with crispy smoky bacon and crushed tortilla crisps and serve with a chilli slice.
BBQ Pulled Jackfruit Pizza
Using Complete Bread mix, make dough and rest it.
Scatter ripped mozzarella over top before cooking in pizza over 2600C until cooked, ensuring the dough base isn’t soggy. Serve drizzled with olive oil and sprigs of rosemary.