At the heart of any restaurant’s success is the food served, but just as important, is how the food is presented and marketed. It is vital to sell the food menus using a combination of psychological and strategic methods. A menu needs to be crafted to deliver a satisfying and memorable appeal, balanced with the cost of materials and profit consideration.
Managing menu development requires an individual who can manage the complete path from the concept development through to the launch of a new menu. Whether the menu is being developed for a restaurant or a retailer, the key requirement is to manage the critical path between New Product Development (NPD) and marketing the product prior to and following the launch.
Menu development requires cross discipline skills that cover NPD, Purchasing, Marketing and Sales. All elements are important for the success of a new menu, but it is essential for the process as a whole to be managed carefully by an individual who can steer the critical path within time and budgetary requirements.
To coordinate the path from concept to launch, the individual must be aware of emerging new trends in food, and know how to promote new product lines.
An excellent awareness of modern food trends is essential in order to identify and develop innovative new menus. Once identified, a new concept or ‘story of the food’ must be developed in order to give it a unique appeal that will stand out from competitors. The marketing team will develop a combination of imagery and language that will communicate the idea that is behind the menu, whether it is authentic, ethnic, healthy, or a rare treat.
Food Development Team
The team who develop new menus are food scientists with a passion for food. Working closely with marketing, they will identify emerging food trends and develop innovative lines. The development process requires extensive research, testing, and documenting as well as tasting the product. Even tasting the product must be done under a variety of different conditions including tasting it on its own, with an appropriate food host, with various other foods in comparison and heated in different ways.
Marketing and Sales
Considering the language used, the type of imagery and colour schemes is just as important as the food when guiding customers in their choices. Trends are constantly changing and although recently consumers have favoured language that suggests authentic ethnic dishes this has led to certain phrases being overused and becoming clichéd. This has inevitably led to a backlash against items that are ‘homemade’ and ‘drizzled in extra virgin olive oil’ that has been ‘infused’ with various ingredients. Many menus are now emerging that simply list the ingredients without any flowery language, allowing the ingredients to speak for themselves.
Language which suggested ‘authentic’ recipes such as ‘drizzled’ etc. it is now suffered a backlash and is considered too flowery for contemporary tastes. A simple list of ingredients is now perceived as a more honest description of a dish
An individual can expect a salary of £20,000 to £24,000 for a Menu Development Coordinator rising to £70,000 for the Head of Development.
Requirements for Menu Development
- Passionate about food
- Understand modern restaurant and retail food trends
- Excellent organisation skills
- Good negotiator
- Educated to degree level
Examples of Menu Development Jobs
Head of Menu Development
This senior management role will set the strategy for the future development of new products and oversee seasonal menu changes. Managing teams across several different locations, the individual will make sure they are aware of contemporary food trends, consumer opinions and general food new product development trends. Liaising closely with Marketing, Sales and Operations, they will keep tight control over timescales, budgets and deliverables.
Menu Development Coordinator
This position requires someone who is knowledgeable and passionate about food but also has technical knowledge about food production. They will be able to manage the critical path from the development of a new concept through to the marketing and launch of the menu. Testing and trials need to be coordinated as the new product is developed by the NPD team, all of which needs to be fully documented. The menu has to adhere to the concept agreed between Marketing, Purchasing and NPD throughout development in order to maintain a consistent message upon launch.
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Menu Development Coordinator
Development Chef and Menu Development