How to create a premium food experience on a budget?

Getting creative with potato fries is a great way for chefs to deliver a ‘premium mediocre’ food experience that’s budget-friendly. In 2023, cash-conscious customers are looking for a little bit of luxury on their plate. That’s why we’re offering tips on how to serve chips that are a little bit special - without excessive price or preparation.

What is premium mediocre?

Most people have experienced food envy when they see a photo of a delicious, exciting meal pop up on their Instagram feed. Going out to eat isn’t just about enjoying great food, it’s an experience and today’s diners want to take a bite out of something special they can photograph, share and create memories of.

The cost of living crisis has squeezed disposable income across the country, Going for dinner at luxury restaurants seems out for a lot of people. But demand for premium food experiences by social media has increased.

Consumer research from 2023 by Tessa van der Maarel, CCI Manager at Lamb Weston, shows that premium mediocre has gone viral in the food industry. 

“Premium mediocre is the art of taking a fairly basic and affordable ingredient and adding a few extra elements, features or flavours, that elevate this overall to offer the feeling of a premium food experience,” says Tessa van der Maarel. “One obvious example that has become a high-street staple is the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte.”

“Essentially, customers are still purchasing the same cup of coffee - a fairly everyday item - from the same retailer, but with an added flavour dimension. This seasonal favourite is viewed as a treat and a slightly more special twist on their regular daily latte, without stretching their budget,” says Tessa.

Chefs and restaurant and cafe owners all have tight margins themselves which may leave them wondering how they can offer these premium food experiences on their menu while also staying on time and on budget. That’s where potato fries can offer the ideal menu option and a variety of flavour, texture and serving choices. Read on to find out how. 


How to serve premium mediocre with fries?

Premium mediocre works best when you apply it to a relatively basic and stable food product. Potatoes make the perfect base ingredient for your culinary innovation because they are a favourite food product, versatile, and cost-effective. Potato fries are easily adaptable, and they’re quick and easy to prepare in a number of ways without adding hours of prep time for your kitchen staff.

Once you’ve sourced your potato fries from a quality supplier, you can get creative with the sensory and tasteful twists.

A good starting place could be to highlight a new addition, like a texture of flavor profile that creates a more luxury feeling for your customers experience overall. With these REALLY Crunchy Fries, you can create a premium feature that makes them stand out on the menu and show an element of the fries that is a lot better than regular fries. For a signature dish like this you can offer it at a slightly higher price point that regular fries, without adding to your purchasing budget.

REALLY crunchy fries are just one example of a stress-free option.

Making memorable food experiences with sensorial innovation 

There is so much that you can do to make your fries more memorable. To keep your customers coming back for more it’s really all about offering a variety of different options and keeping your menu fresh with a premium feel.

Signature style fries give restaurants the opportunity to showcase their brand, and add an extra-special element to a dish. For example, if your restaurant is an atmospheric bar and diner, you could offer Twister Fries which give a sense of 1980’s nostalgia. A country pub might go for signature skin-on fries to elevate their rustic aesthetic.

It helps to remember that premium food experiences aren’t only about the way your fries taste. In the age of social media, it’s important to set a priority on  the visual presentation of your premium mediocre experience that will help your customers inspire just a little bit of Instagram envy from their friends and followers. Different serving options can really make the fries the star of the dish. For example, a classic gastro pub might serve fries in a novelty newspaper cone similar to fish and chip shops or in an eye-catching piece of crockery. These extra details that really make your customers experience memorable. 

Serving fries that not only tastes great but are a visual and tasty treat that your diners will want to upload and share on social media can also be a winning marketing strategy with potential to reach a lot of new customers.

Whatever you decide to do with your fries, premium mediocre is a consumer phenomenon that is here to stay. If you’re looking for more inspiration, visit our recipes, sides, platters and topped and loaded fries suggestions.

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