October 20th is a big day here at Quattro HQ. Here’s what resident chef Tony had to say to mark the momentous International Chefs Day.
It’s been a marathon 18 months but the food sector is getting back on its feet as hospitality reopens. How have you and other chefs had to adapt throughout the pandemic?
We’ve adapted to meet the requirements of our customers, from moving more into direct consumer sales and take-away to reducing their menus to just the core recipes we supply. Also, being a bit more selective with what we develop for them, to maximise sales and share efficiencies. Personally, I’ve been busier than ever, developing recipes for all the new and varied customers we now manufacture for, as we’ve been inundated with new hospitality enquiries, and some new business from other sectors. Sadly, this has not been the case for every chef I know and some will possibly not return to catering. I’m confident those that do will come out stronger on the other side.
Are there any specific products that customers wanted more of during Covid?
We saw a greater uptake in online ordering and delivery takeaway markets for classic sauces, such as traditional Bolognese and Carbonara, as well as pizza base sauces and fiery chicken wing sauces, such as Buffalo and Habanero. I think people were enjoying food that’s great to share and easy to prepare and could be eaten and cooked outside, with all of the social gathering restrictions.
What do you predict in terms of post-Covid food trends and why?
I think the takeaway market will remain strong until people feel fully confident about getting back out and mingling, but I would like to think that consumers will be going for more healthy options, locally sourced, sustainable products and consume a well-balanced diet in the future and perhaps they’ll stay away from over processed foods high in salts, sugars and hidden carbohydrates. There are a lot of lock-down pounds to shed (guilty!) and I think the new labelling regs will highlight just how many calories we’re consuming, whether we want to know or not. Hopefully, this change will still include the odd treat now and again; as a good friend always says – “everything in moderation.”As health has become a focus, we are more interested in eating better food than ever.
How does the demand for high quality ingredients affect your work?
The recipes we are developing for our customers are mainly health focused and we use as many fresh, high-quality ingredients as we can. Locally sourced and freshly delivered in time for production is how we work. We’re getting better all the time at replicating the decadent flavours of classic recipes, whilst taking out lots of the fat, sugar and salt. It’s tough, but we’re very skilled and it’s important to meet changing food trends, so we’re always working on this. Vegan recipes are at the forefront of what we do currently, as more and more vegan brands hit the market. Of course, there will always be some exceptions to the rule – rules are for breaking, after all! I think there’s a balance to be had. We’re only here once and many of us would like to experience every taste available – we should enjoy food as part of life. Quattro’s products are made on site by real people, every step of the process, not by automation with buttons being pushed on a machine. We oversee every raw ingredient through to the finished product and every change within the process, to ensure it remains as fresh and fabulous as we designed it to be.
This month it’s International Chefs Day. How will you be celebrating? Or how will your team be celebrating you?
I’m sure I’ll be cooking up a storm in the kitchen!