Having worked in leading restaurants in Europe, including Tantris, Taubenkoebel, The Fat Duck, The Ritz and Julius Meindl, Andrej knows that great dishes demand creativity and craftsmanship, the driving forces behind the range.
What’s been your role within the product?
It’s a privilege to be part of it, we’re introducing chefs to something they’ve never had before.
What has inspired the development of the CHEF Signature range?
First we spoke with fellow chefs from top Michelin star restaurants and caterers to understand their business and operations. They’re our biggest inspiration. We also looked at the on-trend flavours as well as flavours used in everyday cooking but that aren’t easily and consistently replicable.
Every six months the team of chefs across Europe get together to share new food, flavours, techniques, emerging trends etc. We’re always curious to explore and discover new flavour innovations, concepts and emerging trends, and of course, we eat out in restaurants quite a lot (it’s not the purpose of the job I promise!).
How do you see these products helping chefs?
The restaurant industry is really competitive. The offer is actually greater than the demand which forces restaurants to be innovative while delivering excellent food for the right value. However, it isn’t always easy to find time to run the kitchen, find time for creativity and deliver excellent food consistently. With flavours such as black garlic, for example, which needs 60 - 90 days to ferment from scratch, we’ve brought this on-trend flavour to chefs!
Instead of spending six hours making a red wine reduction that will vary every time you use a different wine, you could spend time training your team or working on the next menu. You could also tell a chef to come in ½ an hour later and positively impact their morale - happy chefs make happy food! Time in the kitchen is a valuable currency.
It’s also about safety, when there isn’t glass in the kitchen there’s no risk of breakage which would put your staff and your customers at risk. Only using what you need reduces wastage and cost, allowing you to keep track of exactly how much product you have; when there aren’t six or seven bottles on the pass, you can track exactly what's coming in and out of the kitchen.
The Signature range really does bring a lot of operational and cost efficiency benefits and they taste and perform deliciously.
Does the CHEF Signature range speed up creativity and innovation?
It takes 60 - 90 days to ferment black garlic and hours to make a red wine reduction with no guarantee they’re going to taste the same every time. So yes, I absolutely believe that freeing time up from this sort of preparation will help creativity and innovation in kitchens.
When you’ve already got a perfect black garlic or lemon paste, the question is, where can I go next? Chefs are creative and curious, they’re always looking for new ideas and products. With Signature we’re facilitating that process.
How would you reassure chefs that the quality and the taste is there?
Taste it! That’s the only way and I can promise you’ll be amazed. We tried the recipes with external chefs before launching them and the feedback we have is “wow...where can I get them from?!” These products are delivering really authentic tastes and flavours - I’m proud of what we’ve achieved.
Andrej Prokes is Chef Consultant at Nestlé Professional; find out more about Andrej here.
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