Frozen to Plate
A freezer as problem solver. A project is always the most challenging when the client dares to look in the future and is willing to make drastic decisions based on company culture, results and activities from the past. Food concept design gets us going when not only food presentation and theme have focus, but most of all the internal structure of a total management flow and a perfect execution in a realistic timeframe are focus points. citizenM gave us that trust and together with their F&B support team we designed FoodTrick; A frozen to plate concept success story.
Food concept design
To understand the work we did for the citizenM hotel chain, we first need to zoom-in into the desired process-design. Being a centrally managed company with an internal system that is extremely efficient, citizenM wanted a food-concept that delivered on no waste, easy to handle from a central support office but still delivered on quality of food and strong connection to their own style and brand image. So: Doing things differently and be a frontrunner in the hotel industry. Having no chefs but highly skilled all-round working Ambassadors, we had to design a concept that delivered on hotel dynamics, training tools, implementation strategy and food fitted for their type or guests.
citizenM is a brand that attracts a young, modern crowd that is very loyal and open minded. ‘World Travelers, young at heart’ as they like to call it. People visiting hotels often bring a great variety of moods. Having a long or delayed flight brings in a totally different guest then a arrival that marks the start of a holiday. Taking into account that a rainy day in London serves up to 60 dishes per hotel, and a sunny day almost none, you can imagine the importance of the practical execution and performance of this concept.
A Food concept delivers on quality and execution.
To prevent a foodconcept not performing, it needs attention. We design supplychain, overall management structures, food cycles, overall implementation strategy and training method. Off course, in a project as big as this, a co-operation with the client using a project group speeds things up and makes the connection with the company as strong as possible. Everything we designed was tested and reviewed immediately, also live in hotels across Europe. Data and feedback was gathered and the concept adjusted if needed. This way we could be very certain that everything that we designed really performed and was backed up by staff. It is not the strategy with the least resistance, but to deliver a sustainable food concept; it is the only way to go and to celebrate success!
Celebrate successes is very important in a food concept that now performs worldwide in more than 15 hotels; just because you do not develop this overnight. Our knowledge about good food, food standards and implementation is vast, but a foodconcept always needs customization for implementation and adaptation in the specific operating foodservice markets. Follow the plan, be flexible and execute with knowledge and boots on the grounds; that for us brings excellence to the table.
The “trick” with food
When a foodconcept performs and the results match with the design; we can start engineering and development. The culinary development brings data driven recipe design to the table. Based on sales, cultural preferences, market feedback and margins; we can start refining the food concept and design a full year cycle that matches seasonal influences, cultural inclusion and known meal best sellers. A food cycle matrix then brings a full overview of all flavour categories, dominant colours, diets, veggy-vegan and which protein is used. Off course the delivery always covers the food quality, but it does not say we can’t develop it even further; and be our own biggest challenge to get to the ultimate value for money food production.
Frozen to plate
For citizenM we designed a food concept that covered food creation of recipe and style, food quality and managing production-partners (partnership based, together with Marfo and starCuisine), food concept implementation and training. The whole concept tackeled a no-waste mentality, because all food, snacks and staff food have been designed to be frozen; and regenerated only by using an exceptional microwave that brings the food to serving temperature within 6 minutes. Major development went in creating these microwave programmes, and we tackled any quality issues by producing the meal in two components; combining sauce with protein, and veggies with fibre components. Each having their own specific program. Marfo, being logistic partner and the producer of many meals, had the technical knowledge and a frozen food development team to support and refine this concept. In the first year, we tested multiple dishes in two different countries. We designed a custom made work-booth to be installed in the kitchen with all technical requirements to implement the concept fast and as cheap as possible without interfering with the day to day operations in the hotels too much.
So there you have it. Frozen food, microwaves and central production for more than 15 hotels with an excellent quality and diverse menu for meals and snacks. And we did not stop there. This frozen logistic chain had to be used so we developed dim sum, patisserie products and smoked salmon to be delivered to all hotels using multiple grocers that worked as a logistic delivery partner; besides deliver all other produce a hotel also needs. Stocked and managed by Marfo, citizenM only needs a small central team to manage quality, pace and new introductions to the hotels. Staff food never has been better, guest satisfaction has gone up, waste reduced with 70%, sales have risen and the whole experience around food for guest and Ambassador in every hotel has dramatically changed for the positive. Teams are now proud to talk about their food and innovative concept that is ready for the future.
“WDF has proven to be a decent conceptpartner and made came true on all their promises"
Ad Pfennings van citizenM Hotels
You can imagine that without the full cooperation of citizenM, and the willingness to think in extremes and dare to be different, this would not have succeeded. citizenM saw the need for change and a long-term solution for their food offering. Their focus and data driven decision making process made it possible to really test and improve along the way and make decisions based on science, data and experiences in reality with actual staff prepping actual food selling it to actual guest. It is still an enormous thrill to be part of this process and be a partner for food quality and development for the future menus.