Mark Sargeant has joined forces with Brakes to create a range of products for the foodservice provider's 2017 range.
The chef began working with Brakes in January in a bid to increase the brand's appeal to chefs. Sargeant and his team advise on new product ideas that would appeal to its customer base, such as pubs with small kitchens, and multi-restaurant owners who want consistency.
Speaking to The Caterer, Sargeant said: "One of the ideas I've suggested is to make an osso buco that has been outsourced and pre-cooked, because then for chefs it's just a case of either reheating it or incorporating it into a deep stew, depending on the season. It's that kind of product that we are going to start working on."
He added: "One of my favourite things on the Brakes product list at the moment is the Jacobs ladder, or short rib of beef. It comes in a sous vide bag so it's very versatile - you can take it out and bake it or you can cook it through in a pan of water; either way it just falls off the bone. I put that and the slow-cooked pork belly on my pub menu straight away. We have been able to add an extra 20% to our menu, but were able to keep the same workload.
"I think chefs need to understand that you can't turn your nose up at these products, because they are made so well and it's so consistent. For example, I recently tried a perfectly seasoned pressed lamb shoulder, which would be impossible to replicate on a daily basis in a small kitchen. There's nothing worse than having a great pub meal on a Saturday night, then having the same thing on a week after and it's awful."
However, Sargeant isn't just focusing on behind the scenes development; he is also championing Brakes products through a series of blogs and recipe videos.
The partnership is part of a wider business drive from Brakes, which hopes to draw its employees' attention back to the heart of the business - the food.
Jennie Fisher, director of customer engagement at Brakes, said: "Over the last few years the main focus has been getting the business up to speed - with new IT infrastructures, delivery drivers - everyone has been busy doing other stuff, but food had fallen to the sidelines. Brakes now want to bring food back to the heart of the sales team who in turn will reflect this passion to customers."
Training with staff about the dry store range, which holds over 700 brands, was carried out in January. Brakes claim the category has now seen significant growth due to being the focus of attention over the last few months.
"Sales now get an hour every month to muck around with food; they are trained and treated to cookery masterclasses with Mark, too. It makes them feel proud to do those things, which translates out to the customer," Fisher added.
Brakes has a range of over 1.5 million products and supplies over 200,000 operators across Europe.
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