As part of our ‘A Taste of Christmas’ campaign, which aims to provide festive menu solutions to foodservice businesses throughout the country, we caught up with Barry O’Flaherty, experienced Chef and William’s Gate Protein Specialist, to find out his thoughts and insights on the upcoming Christmas rush…
Tell us a little bit about your current role and your professional background.
I am a Protein Specialist with William’s Gate and previous to this I was the Group Executive Chef for a large Irish hotel chain. With over twenty-five years’ experience as a chef, I’m well suited to working alongside other chefs to assist with all aspects of their protein needs.
My goal is to be a reliable ally for chefs, offering insights, suggestions, and practical tips. Working with chefs isn’t just a job for me; it’s a passion rooted in a lifelong love for hospitality.
What food trends are you seeing in the build-up to the Christmas rush?
As always Christmas for me is the time for slow cooking, particularly when it comes to unlocking rich flavours from the often-underestimated cuts of beef.
This season, there’s a significant increase in the popularity of beef featherblade and beef shin. These cuts, often overlooked, are proving to be fantastic additions to festive menus.
They’re at a price point whereby chefs can make very good GP so it’s a win-win situation – delivering on exceptional taste while keeping an eye on the bottom line.
What do you think is the key to success for hospitality businesses this Christmas?
The success of hospitality businesses this Christmas hinges on careful preparation. Navigating the season requires anticipating high demand, ensuring seamless operations, and managing large group bookings. Less is often more on festive menus. From stocking up on menu ingredients to fine-tuning workflows, attention to detail is paramount. Additionally, creating a festive atmosphere and delivering exceptional service are vital components. Ultimately, it’s about exceeding expectations and leaving a positive, lasting impression on both customers and staff.
What is your top tip for chefs on how to prepare for the busy month of December?
Like every day in the kitchen, preparation is the key. Creating a menu that is well balanced, being allergen aware and ensuring that your dishes cater to a diverse range of dietary needs.
Equally important is understanding your team’s capabilities and limitations. This is indispensable for creating a seamless service that consistently delivers quality dishes every time.
The ability to handle the stress of this period and taking the time just to take a breath and enjoy what you’re doing is essential. Acknowledge that Christmas in the kitchen is a demanding time for everyone involved, extending beyond the chefs and servers to include the often unsung heroes—such as the kitchen porters—who form the backbone of the entire team.
Do you have any advice on how to reduce food waste over the festive period?
My advice is to incorporate similar ingredients in multiple dishes, this promotes efficiency and allows for better use of resources. Review your portion sizes as we have tendency to add multiple garnishes to dishes and give extra portions of vegetables & potatoes.
As Protein Specialist in William’s Gate, I have observed a notable demand in pre-portioned Turkey & Ham – these are ideal for reducing food waste and are ultimately labour saving!
What is your personal favourite dish to see on a menu during the Christmas season?
My favourite Christmas dish is the roast turkey. While growing up I always thought turkey was an exceptionally dry meat but from working in a kitchen at the tender age of sixteen, I learned that turkey is a delicious moist meat. That Christmas I cooked the turkey as shown by my Head Chef at the time and I haven’t looked back since! I now prepare Christmas dinner for the whole family, and it really is the best time of the year!
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As part of our ‘A Taste of Christmas’ campaign, which aims to provide festive menu solutions to foodservice businesses throughout the country, we caught up with Barry O’Flaherty, experienced Chef and William’s Gate Protein Specialist, to find out his thoughts and insights on the upcoming Christmas rush… Tell us a little bit about your current…
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