As I sit and write this I’m contemplating adding another notch to my belt, which – thanks to my recent bout of menu development – acts as nothing but a reminder of how many dishes I’ve tasted, tested and evaluated.
Since my post last month, where I gave you all an insight into the new Huck’s menu, we’ve launched the updated Sports Café menu which has gone down exceptionally well. The allergen-friendly one has especially been popular with guests, and this is something we will introduce with every menu we bring in future. The Huck’s menu has also taken one step closer to completion, as we held a food tasting session at Elveden Forest last week.
After putting out a call on the Center Parcs Facebook page, we chose Carol and her partner Wayne to trial the assortment of steaks, burgers, desserts and even drinks proposed for the new menu. It was Wayne’s first visit to Center Parcs, so I was really keen in getting his thoughts on Huck’s from the eyes of a newcomer. Carol, on the other hand, had visited the Village and Huck’s a few times before so it was equally as useful to get some feedback on the new direction we’re taking.
Alongside our guest tasters, Megan Garwood, a procurement graduate from Reynolds [food suppliers] came along to see how the process, as well as Eddie McAdam, Group Food and Beverage and Retail Manager.
In total there were 86 menu items – yes, 86! – to be tried and tested, and everyone had tasting notes to write feedback and suggestions. From Spicy Salt and Pepper Squid and Lobster Mac n Cheese, to Creamed Corn and my bespoke brioche burger buns, it was a belt-stretching day of indulgence, dish after dish, bite after bite. I spent the majority of it in the kitchen, cooking and plating up. With the occasional nibble, of course! The tasting day was a great success. I must add that not all 86 items will make it on the menu – probably not even a quarter of them – but it’s an essential way to gauge what dishes cook well, can be presented well and, most importantly, pass the taste test.
Wayne, our Center Parcs first-timer and food taster, says: “We’ve really enjoyed the day, it’s been a fantastic experience. Not only have I tried Huck’s for the first time, but have also tried completely new foods for the first time too, for example swordfish. We’re totally stuffed now; I could do with a lie down but I think we have a session of badminton booked!”
We’ll be making the final call on the new Huck’s menu, before getting our menu photographed and designed before the big launch in the New Year. It’ll be a mouth-watering start to 2015, so try to save your some appetite after the festive season!