A horrible, cynical way of unloading leftovers and charging three times as much as you ordinarily charge for breakfast.” That’s professionally grumpy chef Anthony Bourdain on brunch. Another way of putting it could be; brunch – a great opportunity for foodservice operators to add more fat to their margins.
Aussies love their breakfast particularly in Queensland and New South Wales. The number of people dining out for breakfast or brunch on a Sunday in Brisbane grew by 70 per cent year on year from 2015 to 2016, according to data from Dimmi’s Annual Dining Index (2016). The number of Sydneysiders heading out for Sunday brunch grew by 53 per cent in the same period, while Melbourne saw a 26 per cent leap. In the west, Perth saw a healthy 14 per cent rise in Sunday brunchers.
But it isn’t just families and couples heading out on Sunday to enjoy great coffee and smashed avocado on toast, with plenty of execs powering their day with a breakfast business meeting. And despite the cynicism of Bourdain, hotels, restaurants and cafes are all upping their breakfast game.
Let’s take a look at the different trends and see how to get the most buck for your breakfast bang.
Show your dough
The story of bread in Australia mirrors our own journey from white bread staples to today’s multi-cultural bread world. Diners want choice and increasingly they want diversity in their bread offering, with old school classic white bread sharing the table with artisan breads such as rustic sourdoughs, pane di casa, Turkish pide and ciabatta. Tip Top Foodservice has seen a continued rise in the uptake of its Turkish and ciabatta breads as well as artisanal flavours such as sourdough and rye. And for extra convenience Tip Top Foodservice’s Speedibake range comes frozen, so it can be safely stored and used on demand, particularly useful in today’s all-day breakfast environment.
Sourdough also rules supreme at Shepherd’s Artisan Bakehouse. “Sourdough is definitely still the bread on most people’s lips right now,” says Shepherd’s director Jack Mitri.
“Our biggest seller is and always has been simple white sourdough. It goes with every flavour profile and is a crowd pleaser. Most cafes feature a fruit bread (our Six-Fruit Loaf is ever-popular), and darker breads – rye, spelt wholemeal and even the eye-catching black charcoal breads – are also popping up on a lot of menus.”
And what’s bread without butter. There’s no point offering a great range of artisan breads if your butter lets them down. Whatever butter you use make sure it has consistent quality, performance, texture and flavour such as Western Star, which has built its reputation on a commitment to excellence extending back almost a century.
“Western Star is Australia’s favourite butter and is synonymous with 5-star quality,” says Alastair McCausland, from Fonterra Foodservice. “We take great pride in making the best butter, with Western Star having just been crowned the Champion Butter at the Australian Grand Dairy Awards for the second consecutive year.”
Western Star makes life easy for operators with a range of options, from salted and unsalted 1.5kg Butter Pats ideal for back of house and 2kg Easy Spread buckets designed to make all spreading applications simple, to hygienically sealed Portion Control packs for convenient single-serve use, and salted or unsalted Medallions designed to add a touch of sophistication to catered events. There’s even a cultured butter which imparts a rich, buttery flavour in the Western Star range.
Sunny side up
We love eggs, all day every day. And increasingly we like them free range. Sadly not every egg can be handpicked by an outdoor type in dungarees and flannel shirt before being transported in the safety of his lumberjack beard from farm to plate (unless you’re at a café in Newtown) but you can make a point of showing you care by putting free range on the menu. Consumers are increasingly happy to pay more knowing the hens are happy, with sales volume for free range eggs up 19 per cent for 2016/17, according to Sunny Queen Farms.
“It’s evident that consumers want transparency when it comes to the lifecycle of their food, and we’re seeing it across the country with sales for Sunny Queen Farms’ free range eggs,” says Sunny Queen Australia’s managing director, John O’Hara.
“We take stringent measures to ensure hen happiness is at the heart of our free range farming system, and Sunny Queen Farms will continue to go above and beyond by providing a king-size bed’s worth of space for each of our hens.”
And diners are loving the creative ways eggs are being used. French toast is a perennial favourite, but Middle-Eastern and North African flavours are huge as well. Exotic spices such as dukkah give any style of egg a new twist, while pairing eggs with hummus, labneh, feta, pumpkin or sujuk sausage are a great way to mix things up.
A healthy lifestyle and food are interlinked with more consumers pushing for a fresh start to the day. Berries are a superfood in more ways than one, giving operators plenty
of opportunities to jazz up their menu. And they are super versatile. Bling up your standard bircher muesli with some berries, add them to yogurt or simply turn them into a smoothie. Whichever way you go, they bring colour and vitality to any dish on the menu.
Swissôtel Sydney is all about getting its guests off to a healthy start having just relaunched their new Vitality Menu under the watchful eye of executive chef Joshua Askew. Options such as low-fat yoghurt smoothies, fruit juice shots infused with the hotel’s own rooftop honey and spirulina, wheatgrass and acai booster shots are designed to make sure their business guests will be ready for the day. Mid-morning brunch boosters include low-fructose fruits such as honeydew, rock melon, kiwifruit and pears as well as high-fibre granola and compote yoghurts.
“We have created a range of healthy dishes that delegates will not only enjoy eating but also provide them with the sustenance needed to get them through the day,” says Askew.
Hair of the dog
Bloody Mary’s are the breakfast staple for the morning after the big night before, but many venues are expanding their horizons on their morning tipple menu. Kensington Street Social in Sydney’s Chippendale has extended its brunch offering to Saturday following the success of ‘Social Sunday’. The venue has also a launched a new interactive cocktail trolley, with diners encouraged to get creative with their own cocktail recipe. The bartenders help hem along, and the ingredients change from week to week to keep things fresh.
So what are diners washing down their Boulevardier (Bulleit Rye, Antica Formula, Campari), Millionaire (Ron Zacapa 23, Sloe Gin, Apricot Brandy, Lime Juice) and Lost in Thyme (Don Julio Blanco, Lemon Juice, Elderflower Liquor, Fresh Thyme) cocktails with? The classics such as Scrambled organic eggs with smoked bacon, black pudding and house made beans, alongside Warm poached rhubarb, berries, rosemary and spelt granola. Other breakfast menu treats include ‘Prawn Toast’ ceviche with fennel, smoked oyster emulsion and trout caviar, ‘Full English’ flatbread with egg, beans, tomato, bacon and black pudding, and Breakfast Rice with slow cooked hen’s egg, shitake mushroom, pork belly and bacon dashi.