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Crumbs of comfort

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More and more breaded products are being introduced into a packed market, so Caterer put together a Taste Test panel to try some of the latest entrants. Amanda Marcus reports.

The choice of breaded products on the market today is larger than ever, yet suppliers are constantly generating new ideas for both junior and adult markets.

Whatever the target age group, quality, price, appearance and value for money are the main considerations for most buyers when choosing breaded products. It’s also important to consider whether the product is going to be kept warm for a time before serving – some coatings hold better than others.

To test some of the latest entrants on the breaded products market, Caterer asked a panel of five tasters to sample a broad cross-section of innovations, ranging from new ideas for kids to the upper end of the adult market. The tasting was held at St Mary of the Angels RC Primary School in Aldridge, in the West Midlands. Catering manager Gail Rose either baked or deep-fried the products according to the supplier’s instructions, and each was judged on its own merits.

The tasters
ROBIN LOTT is a lecturer at Walsall College of Arts and Technology in the West Midlands. The college’s catering department teaches a large range of courses from NVQs and BTEC to HND programmes. The 100-seat college restaurant, the Mulhouse, feeds 90-plus a day, mainly local people. Average spend is £6.45 for lunch and £9.45 for dinner.

LEE CARLESS is sous chef at the two-AA-rosette Fairlawns Hotel and Restaurant in Aldridge. The 80-seat fine-dining restaurant serves 100-120 covers per day, with an average spend of about £40 for dinner. The hotel also has five private dining rooms. All food is freshly prepared on site.

DANIEL MURRAY, aged eight, is a pupil at St Mary of the Angels school. His comments have been included for the products aimed at children.

JAYNE FORREST is catering manager at Arthur Terry Secondary School in Streetly, near Birmingham. Scolarest, the schools division of Compass, runs the contract, which feeds 1,000 children and staff per day. The unit has 180 seats and average spend is £2 per day, with breaded products accounting for roughly 50p. Burgers and breaded chicken drummers are the most popular breaded items.

DEBBIE DOWNING is food service manager at North Birmingham College, an Aramark contract. Covers average 300-600 per day in the student and staff restaurants, the students being 14 and older. Average spend is £1.50.

Breaded products taste test – the results

The products were rated according to our star system:

** Outstanding
* Recommended

Mini Lemon Fillets – Grampian
Wholesale price: 58 portions in 2 x 1kg cases, £10.50 (about 18p each)

Positive comments: proper chicken; good flavour and aroma; very nice balance and mix of flavours; good for buffets, hot or cold; versatile.
Less favourable comments: would be better in a thicker crumb coating; coating too bland.

Cocktail Breaded Chicken Fillets – Brake Bros
Wholesale price: 40 x 30g per case, £15.50 (about 38p each)
Positive comments: good for buffets; novel idea of product on a stick; “chicken lollipop” has sweet flavour; appeals to kids as well as adults; firm, moist chicken.
Less favourable comments: greasy sticks defeat the object of keeping fingers clean.

Skipper Mini Fish Nuggets – Findus Foodservices
Wholesale price: 6kg case of 300 nuggets, £17.55 (about 6p each)

Positive comments: good size, allowing five to six nuggets per portion; looks good; crispy, firm texture; nice white fish.
Less favourable comments: adults found texture spongy and taste artificial, but young taster enjoyed it.

Skipper Mini Cod Crunchies – Findus Foodservices
Wholesale price: 3.02kg case of 70 crunchies, £9.85 (about 14p each)
Positive comments: lovely crunchiness; unusual shape for fish product; good size; our youngest taster loved them.
Less favourable comments: mulched, artificial flavour; rubbery texture.

Complete Cuisine Superior Wholetail scampi – Caterforce
Wholesale price: 10 x 454g per case, £5 (about 50p each)
Positive comments: nice scampi; good flavour; whole pieces.
Less favourable comments: flavour too sweet; artificial taste; sweet, fishy smell; good-quality scampi let down by poor coating.

Veggie Teddies – Bernard Matthews
Wholesale price: 40 x 50g per case, £7 (17.5p each)
Positive comments: looks fun; good way to get smaller children to eat vegetables; young taster approved; crisp coating.
Less favourable comments: bland, uneven colour; cheesy aroma but no cheese taste; too soft inside.

Spellbinders – Bernard Matthews
Wholesale price: 48 x 57g per case, £9.12 (about 19p each)

Positive comments: big hit with youngest taster, but panel thought product could benefit from a “wizard sauce” to counteract dryness; good shapes, fun appearance; good for promotion days for kids.
Less favourable comments: standard minced chicken product; processed texture; artificial flavour.

Wacky Chicken Racers – Grampian
Wholesale price: 80 x 28g per case, £6.72 (about 8p each)

Positive comments: firm, reasonable quality chicken; good flavour and colour; light, fluffy breadcrumbs; good value for money.
Less favourable comments: unclear shape let the product down.

Oriental Prawn Cake – M&J Seafoods
Wholesale price: 24 x 85g box, £15.60 (65p each)

Positive comments: Good crunchy breadcrumbs; even shape.
Less favourable comments: rather dry; mulched texture with minced prawn rather than whole prawn pieces; plenty of flavours, but not of prawn; overpowered by seasoning; would be much better with larger prawn pieces.

Spicy Bean Burger – Brake Bros
Wholesale price: 18 x 100g case, £9.95 (about 55p each)

Positive comments: pungent, spicy aroma; looks appealing; good size; spices well balanced.
Less favourable comments: disappointing inside; unappetising filling; tomato relish overpowering; poor flavour; overpriced.

Turkey Escalope with a Creamy Pepper Sauce – Bernard Matthews
Wholesale price: 20 x 142.5g case, £16.20 (81p each)

Positive comments: good size; nice idea; tasty sauce.
Less favourable comments: texture rather glutinous; turkey tastes processed, rubbery and too peppery; pepper and breadcrumbs didn’t work well together; at 81p, too expensive for many staff restaurants; nondescript coating.

Salmon Kiev – M&J Seafoods
Wholesale price: 15 x 235g box, £31.50 per box (£2.10 each)

Positive comments: good-sized portion; nice, moist salmon; high-quality crumb; appearance of value for money for customer.
Less favourable comments: Kiev should have more garlic butter, maybe some fresh parsley; brown meat of salmon should be trimmed off – retaining it looks unsightly; could have done with a better crumb.


Bernard Matthews Food Service
01603 872611

Brake Bros
0845 606 9090

01625 505929

Findus Foodservices
01737 784059

Grampian Convenience Foods
01953 457719

M&J Seafoods
01296 588220

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