Now that Christmas is done and dusted, it’s time to start thinking about the next big day on the catering calendar. Valentine’s Day (February 14) presents a huge opportunity for operators to woo diners with bespoke dishes tailored specifically for the occasion.
Research by Mintel reveals 21% of people are planning to enjoy dinner in a restaurant this Valentine’s Day. This year, the most romantic of days falls on a Wednesday, so expect increased footfall on this usually quieter mid-week date – but also many venues will be looking to extend their offer to include the previous and following weekends too.
Broaden the appeal
Valentine’s Day is now more inclusive than ever and is no longer restricted to celebrating romantic love. Revellers are now choosing to champion platonic love of the friends too – you’ve heard the term Galentine’s Day, right? – so be sure to cater for this growing group and market your offer accordingly.
The name game
Valentine’s Day is all about indulgence and celebration, so desserts are most definitely centre stage. From a menu perspective, consider giving your desserts Valentine’s Day-related titles to capture the imagination of your diners.
Samantha Rain, development chef at leading ingredients supplier Henley Bridge, has created several new recipes specifically for Valentine’s Day, available here.
She said: “Valentine’s Day has become a huge opportunity in the catering calendar – and dessert is always on the menu! Diners in search of a romantic meal will usually gravitate towards the traditional Valentine’s dessert favourites featuring chocolate, raspberries or strawberries, and sharing desserts are a fantastic option for added romance.
“‘Nuts for You’ recipe uses a dark chocolate éclair cup filled with pecan mousse, dark chocolate and whisky ganache, and vanilla salted caramel, finished with heart-shaped chocolate décor.
“For something a bit lighter, try my ‘Swooning over vanilla’ tart, which uses a Pidy sweet butter pastry shell filled with vanilla pannacotta and topped with vanilla mousse hearts and fresh raspberries.
“For those too full to manage a dessert, consider serving handmade, heart-shaped chocolates and/or fudge.”
Attention to detail
As Valentine’s Day is a really busy day in the catering calendar, accept all the help you can get by preparing in advance and using ready-made pastry cases and chocolate cups, such as Dobla’s red coloured dark chocolate heart shaped coupole (80 x 80 x 35mm) which can be filled with ganache, mousse, fruit or anything else that takes your fancy.
An easy way to make Valentine’s desserts stand out is to adorn them with chocolate décor created specifically with February 14 in mind.
Brands such as Barbara Decor, Hillbo and Dobla, which are all available from your local rep and offer impressive ranges to choose from, with chocolate hearts and roses available in a variety of sizes and colours. These include: