It’s an exciting time for the hospitality industry. Food delivery services like Menulog, Deliveroo and Uber Eats are providing an ever-widening open door to restaurants and takeaway outlets who have previously resigned themselves to successfully offering a delivery service. Recognition for lesser-known restaurants is increasing, kitchens are staying open for longer and businesses are being granted a level of flexibility previously unheard of. But, with new opportunities comes challenges. This new concept of dining is urging restaurants to rethink their meal offerings as businesses are now being faced with the obstacle of getting food to the door in the same condition it left the kitchen.
In April last year, well-respected Sydney founder of Burgers by Josh, Josh Arthurs hit out against Uber Eats, saying loyal customers were consistently receiving cold burgers and chips. The food delivery service promises your meal will arrive within thirty minutes, but poor packaging and ingredient selection meant dinner was often arriving on the doorsteps of hungry customers at room temperature and in a sodden, inedible mess. Food delivery services give you the tools you need to reach a wider demographic but for many food outlets, it represents a considerable challenge.
Here are six product and packaging alternatives that will help you get the most out of modern-day delivery services while still delivering tasty, well presented meals.
Keeping your chips hot and crunchy
The art of delivery for hot chips lies in maintaining a good combination of crispness and temperature. Most hot chips were prepared and cooked for eating within the first few minutes of leaving the fryer and so many elements of the serving process play a big role in maintaining their structure. Monta Foods spoke to Paul Stephens, co-founder of popular burger restaurant Munroe’s Burgers and Beers, for some inside knowledge on how they perfect the ideal delivery meals. His suggestion? Forget shoestring. “Thicker cut chips will stay hot and crispy longer than French fries,” he said, explaining the thinner the cut, the faster the chip loses its heat. Those ten minutes it takes a delivery driver to transport a meal to its recipient is crucial. Wheat-based batters also offer the highest heat retention and crispy crunch, so it helps in preserving its crispness on the short journey home. Why not opt for a battered option similar to the ones Monta foods. They’re pre-cut, battered and frozen for ultimate convenience and optimal crunch, making the perfect chip addition.
No more soggy sandwiches or burgers – it’s all in the bread
Bread choice is key to the success of any delivery sandwich and burger. Even for ordinary dine-in meals, soft and delicate baps and brioche buns will literally crumble under the pressure of a burger patty, not to mention the sauces, cheese and vegetables of choice. The texture of a fluffy white burger bun might sound enticing but “overly soft buns may be more susceptible to quicker deterioration,” said Paul. He advised, where possible, go for sourdough slices over ordinary sliced bread and a more sturdy option like Monta Foods’ milk buns, which will preserve a burgers structure for that little bit longer, especially when sealed with a light toasting from the grill.
The hotter the food, the better
Consider restricting some menu items to delivery only, like mac and cheese or mozzarella patties. It promotes a sense of exclusivity to your delivery customers and keeps meals hotter for longer. “Items such as these can be scorching hot when pulled out of the fryer but will help keep the burger hot and arrive at the customer at a much more manageable temperature,” Paul said.
Switching up your lettuce
It’s been said that some food delivery services charge their partners up to 30 per cent commissions on delivery orders, so to subsidise this loss of revenue, aim to cut costs where possible. Speaking to Monta Foods, Paul suggested looking at ways to deliver a sound result for less cost. “Switching from fancy coral or oak lettuce to iceberg, for example, may give you a product that is likely to arrive slightly less wilted that also delivers a cost saving,” he said. Not only does iceberg lettuce provide the burgers contents with a stable foundation for transportation but it’s less porous and its natural, wax-like surface repels moisture, so it won’t wilt as quickly during the delivery process.
Packing your salads accordingly
If there’s one thing that can make Monday lunches at the desk even worse, it’s limp salads partially submerged in too-oily dressing. You’re doing all the right things by packing dressing and salad in separate containers, but your leaves are becoming soggy and your tomatoes are seeping liquid before they even hit the road. Knowing how to pack a delivery salad properly can save you all this heartache.
An industry secret? It’s all in the layering technique. Use a deep container, similar to the one Monta Foods offer, that’s suitable for layering and won’t toss and turn when secured in a moving vehicle. The foundation layer is dedicated to the dressing. Unless it’s purposely tipped upside down, it won’t reach the more delicate elements towards the surface. The hardy vegetables that won’t wilt or crumble under pressure are next, i.e. broccoli, asparagus and carrot. These are the stilts that keep the upper layers from coming into contact with the dressing. Up next is the protein of choice. A little splash of dressing won’t harm Chicken, chickpeas or hard-boiled eggs in the midst of transit. The last layer is for the fragile elements; the lettuce and tomatoes (seed them if you can) and then add nuts or croutons for crunch to finish. This one-box-wonder was designed for cost efficiency and ethical friendliness and it’s saves on time, which works well in a bustling inner-city kitchen on lunch hour.
The right way to package pizza and burgers for delivery
Friday night is one of the busiest nights of the week and your kitchen seems to be on top of things until the return orders start flooding in. The pizzas are leaving the restaurant with a crispy crust and soft, cheesy centre but they’re coming back minutes later in a soggy mess. To make matters worse, orders are ending up in an insulated Deliveroo bag which traps the excess steam that’s managed to escape the cardboard box.
According to Paul, “packaging is important as it balances the need to retain heat but let out moisture.” Pizzas come out of an oven at blistering temperatures and once they start to cool down, they expel moisture which condensates to the inside walls of the box. While it’s important to make sure lids are firmly closed to minimise heat extraction, its ideal to get rid of as much unnecessary moisture as possible. If your restaurant employs a delivery driver, “use delivery bags with 12v electric heating elements in order to minimise the heat loss in transit,” Paul explained. No one likes soggy pizza for dinner, which is why Monta Foods offer high-quality, ventilated pizza boxes to keep excess steam from getting trapped in the box. Check out our full range of pizza boxes here.
It’s not all smoke and mirrors though. Keeping a meal intact during the rocky road home can be as simple as piercing a skewer through the centre of a burger, lasagne or sandwich to stabilise it. Try supplying sauces on the side of a meal where possible in a separate container so your meals don’t slip all over the place in the car and keep hot and cold food separate where possible.