Chips are one of the most frequently ordered items on a menu. Served as a side or a stand-alone snack, they have come a long way since Charles Dickens described them as ‘husky chips of potatoes, fried with some reluctant drops of oil’ in 1859.
There is so much potential in the versatile snack and by bringing some excitement to your chip offer, you will draw in more customers, increase sales and drive profit.
Mix it up
When it comes to chips, everyone has their favourite so give your customers a choice and offer a variety of the following:
• Chunky (handcut) chips
• French fries
• Skinny fries
• Curly fries
• Sweet potato fries
Cash in your chips
Sprinkling some flavour onto the beloved chip will give you the opportunity to create a premium snack. With 70% of customers willing to give seasoned chips a try* and one in three prepared to pay 20 pence more for them*, you should have a seasoned chip offer on your menu. Chip Seasoning from Schwartz is a well-balanced blend that includes paprika, garlic, onion, salt and black pepper.
Chips on the menu
Offering chips with a dip or topping can make a satisfying meal by itself. Come Fry With Me in London’s Covent Garden offers chips with toppings of meatballs and mozzarella cheese or sprinkled with BBQ seasoning and topped with pulled pork. BeFries in Brighton has only been open nine months and is already going through 300 kilos of potatoes on a busy Saturday. “We produce a really crispy shell that stays crispy with a soft and fluffy centre,” explains Chan Beevers, the co-founder.
The restaurant uses a Belgian method to create chip perfection; Agria potatoes handcut to 12mm thickness and double cooked. Its most popular sauces are peanut satay and garlic mayonnaise. “Chips are universal and appeal to everyone – they are part of our national identity,” adds Chan. “And because we are a repeat business we focus entirely on one product and try to make it as good as we can.”
The perfect chip
To achieve the holy grail – the perfect crunch on the outside yet soft and fluffy inside – you need to choose the right potato and get the cooking technique spot on. From twice or triple-cooked – sometimes in different temperatures – frying in beef fat or sunflower oil, to cooking in small batches and boiling in salted water pre-frying, there are many theories on how to cook the perfect chip.
“When making the perfect chip, preparation is paramount,” says Andy Gray, trade marketing manager for Seafish. Here are his steps to chip perfection:
1. Potato choice – this will often be dependent on the seasons and what is the best quality available, but Maris Piper is usually the potato of choice for chipping. However, many people will have their own preference.
2. Chipping – once peeled, potatoes should be chipped and trimmed to be equal sizes in length and width (perhaps 1 to 1.5cm thickness). This will ensure that the chips will all cook at the same rate.
3. Let them soak – chipped potatoes should be soaked in water for 30 minutes to an hour, which will help to remove any excess starch and will help the chips cook evenly and not colour too quickly. Drain and dry before cooking.
4. Get frying – the most important bit! Cook the chips first at a temperature of 160°C to cook the potato through. Allow to cool before cooking them at a second, higher temperature of 190°C which will crisp them.
5. Oil choice – vegetable-based oil or beef dripping is recommended, however, it is down to personal preference.
A healthy option?
Chips don’t have to be an unhealthy indulgence – there are plenty of ways to appeal to customers who are watching what they eat:
• Bake instead of frying
• Switch vegetable oil for olive oil
• Change regular potatoes for sweet potatoes (higher in fibre and vitamin A, lower in calories)
• Serve homemade ketchup rather than bottled ketchup so you can keep the sugar content down – or offer low sugar ketchup like Heinz’s new variety