Creativity with potato fries are a perfect example of how chefs can create a ‘premium mediocre’ food experience without breaking the bank. With diners increasingly looking for a little bit of luxury on their plate, no matter their budget, we’re offering tips on how to serve fries that are a little bit special - without added cost or preparation.
What is premium mediocre?
Have you ever had food envy seeing an image of a delicious, extravagant looking meal pop up on your social media feed? You’re not alone. For most people, going out to eat isn’t just about eating tasty food, it’s about experiencing a bit of luxury - taking a bite out of something special that you want to photograph and share before you tuck in. But with the increasing cost of living and even the basics becoming more unaffordable, eating out at high-end restaurants seems more out of reach than ever for many. That doesn’t necessarily mean that demand for premium food experiences has decreased.
That’s why the concept of premium mediocre has taken hold in the consumer landscape. “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, CCI Manager at Lamb Weston. “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.
With tight margins themselves, chefs and restaurant owners may be wondering how they can incorporate such premium food experiences into their menu while also managing their time and budget constraints. Luckily, potato fries offer the perfect menu option and a host of sensory experiences and serving options. Read on to find out how.
How to serve premium mediocre with fries?
To make premium mediocre successful and profitable, you need to start with a relatively stable food product. Something that is versatile, familiar and cost-effective when bulk purchasing. This is what makes potatoes the perfect base ingredient for your sensorial innovation. Not only are they easily adaptable, but they are also easy to prepare and can be served in a variety of ways without adding any additional kitchen prep time to your dishes.
Once you’ve got your potato fries, you can get creative with the culinary innovation.
You could try making a small addition, a new flavour profile or texture that elevates the dining experience overall. For example, by making a premium feature of the crunchiness of your chips with these REALLY Crunchy Fries you can make them stand out on the menu and showcase an element of the fries that are a cut above the standard. You can also offer it at a slightly higher price point, without adding to your purchasing budget.
REALLY crunchy fries are a straightforward substitute for your regular fries, making them a stress free option. Remember, the idea is to take a versatile ingredient - in this case potatoes - and elevate it to an artisanal sensory experience that gives customers the feeling of enjoying a premium food experience without putting them out of pocket.
Making fries memorable with sensorial innovation
Of course there is plenty that you can do to make your fries more memorable, and offer a variety of different options to keep your customers coming back to try more.
House or Signature style fries give restaurants a chance of show off their brand, and add an extra special twist to a dish. For example, if your restaurant is an American style diner, you could offer Twister Fries which give a sense of all-American nostalgia. On the other hand, a rustic pub might opt for signature skin-on fries to add to their homely, unpolished aesthetic.
Keep in mind that premium food experiences aren’t only about the taste. It’s true what they say, that you eat first with your eyes, and in the age of social media it’s important to add a bit of wow-factor to your premium mediocre experience that will inspire just a little bit of Instagram envy. Think about the visuals of your different serving options and how you can make the fries the star of the dish. For example, a classic gastro pub could choose to serve fries in a faux-newspaper cone similar to classic fish and chips. Or a trendy pizzeria could offer fries in a mini pizza box. It’s all these extra details that really make the dining experience memorable for your customers.
Making sure you’re serving up something that not only tastes great but is something your diners will want to upload and share on social media is also a great marketing strategy and has the potential to bring lots of new customers through the door.
However you choose to prepare your fries, premium mediocre is a food and drink phenomenon that isn’t going away. If you’re looking for more inspiration, check out our recipes, sides, platters and topped and loaded fries suggestions.
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