Crafting Holiday Menus for an Aussie Summer

Guest written by Chef Liam

As the Australian summer approaches, hospitality professionals in cafes, clubs, and pubs are gearing up for the holiday season, which includes everyone's favourite, Christmas and New Year's Eve celebrations. The scorching heat, vibrant atmosphere, and holiday spirit provide a very rare opportunity to create memorable dining experiences for your customers.

The monarchy is out, the republic movement is a foot and don’t even get me started about the last Ashes series. Out with the tired old syncretic English traditions and embrace the Australian summer vibe. Recognise that the holiday season in Australia coincides with Summer, so adjust your menu to suit the warm weather and festive ambiance.

Nothing says Christmas and Summer like our amazing fresh seafood: Australia's coastlines offer an abundance of seafood that encompasses all the favourites but should certainly not be limited to fresh prawns, oysters, fish, lobster, bugs, scallops, mussels the list can go on and on.

Continuing the seasonal ingredient approach wouldn’t be a success without the rest of the menu fruits and vegetables that are in season and local produce such as mangoes, cherries, berries and tropical fruits plus asparagus, beetroot, rhubarb and tomatoes to infuse a taste of Summer into your dishes.

For those that still like a bit of the cold, gloomy days of the empire to make your menu feel truly special, incorporate old holiday flavours with an Australian twist like a Christmas Burger: Offer a burger featuring a turkey or even better your existing pantry products like an Angel Bay Angus Beef patty, topped with cranberry sauce, stuffing, and gravy. It's a fusion of holiday classics with classic Aussie pub food.

For something a little more controversial I have to ask; has the pav had its day? I love a pavlova but I always look at what’s left on the plate or buffet at the end of each service and the pav just doesn’t move like yesteryear. Carry the flavours and colour into a fresh dessert offering like Mango Cheesecake: A tropical dessert that captures the essence of any Australian Christmas.

Craft holiday-themed cocktails to kick the event off are always popular using fresh fruits and herbs, and showcase local craft beers, distilleries and Australian wines. Don’t forget to offer a non-alcoholic menu with mocktail options not just for the designated drivers and non-drinkers but more generally for consumers who are looking to prioritise healthier lifestyles and responsible drinking, the demand for refreshing, alcohol-free choices continue to rise, making them an integral part of the evolving beverage scene.

The X factor in any celebration is your staff! Ensure your staff are well-trained and knowledgeable about the menu and clientele. They should be able to recommend dishes, explain ingredients, and suggest drink pairings or promotions. Their smiles will ensure the room is always full of holiday joy and cheer.

The Australian summer, coupled with the festive spirit of Christmas and New Year's Eve, offers a unique canvas for hospitality professionals to craft exceptional menus. By embracing the season, offering a variety of dishes, and creating a memorable dining experience, you can ensure that your cafe, club, or pub becomes the go-to destination for holiday celebrations. So, prepare your menus with a mix of tradition and creativity, and get ready to welcome your patrons to an unforgettable summer holiday season.

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