Tofoo Road Test complete

We’re back in the Road Test kitchen once again for the first culinary experiment of 2024. This one saw Andy Briggs, menu development manager for Punch Pubs, head to Road Test HQ to put two tasty Tofoo products through their paces.

A brand-new year sees a fresh chapter of the H2O Road Test series. Developed by Pub & Bar’s parent company H2O Publishing, the project shines a light on the suppliers that help hospitality tick, placing their products in the hands of savvy chefs with the knack to unleash their full potential. 

In every edition, we ask our chosen kitchen pro to put a particular food item to the test, using their feedback to piece together a concise yet informative summary from someone who truly knows their stuff. We thought we’d do the heavy lifting so pub chefs can focus on creating consistently outstanding recipes, hopefully emboldened, elevated and inspired by this informative guide. 

The most recent episode saw Andy Briggs, menu development manager for Punch Pubs, get to grips with The Tofoo Co’s Naked Tofoo and Smoked Tofoo products. 

“Naked Tofoo is the nation’s favourite tofu, as the leading tofu product in the market and the fastest growing brand in the meat-free category,” say David Knibbs and Lydia Smith, founders of The Tofoo Co. “A key reason for this product being market-leading is its versatility, so we wanted to see what Andy could create with it.”

The chef also got to grips with the Smoked Tofoo, another of the company’s best-sellers, offering a great point of comparison for the Naked variety. “It’s smoked in-house over beechwood to give it a distinct and delicious flavour, bringing a background smoky flavour to dishes,” the founders explain.

While the number of those adopting vegan and vegetarian diets is still rising in the UK, 65% of such diners aren’t interested in products trying to imitate meat when ordering out-of-home. “These customers are key to hospitality, as they can decide where a group will eat, so it’s important that a menu appeals to them,” add David and Lydia. As a food item that absorbs flavour so well, Tofoo can shine in any cuisine, not just Asian dishes. It’s flexible in terms of how it can be prepared, with a firm texture that can be grated (ideal for tacos and Bolognese), chopped, crumbled or shaved, all of which are easy to do in the modern commercial kitchen. Then, when it comes to cooking, the product can be crumbed, battered, grilled, sautéed or deep fried – it all comes down to the chef’s imagination.

“There is also a need for variety in offering a less processed plant-based protein, and one that entices those looking for something a little healthier on occasion. With no nasties and no fuss, Tofoo is a great protein to use to tap into these customers’ needs and add diversity among a plethora of burgers and sausages,” the founders conclude. 

Pub & Bar (P&B): How did you prepare for the Road Test?
Andy Briggs (AB): I did some online research into what and how the Road Tests had been done previously. Luckily, having just come out of the Covid years in which we had changed our ways of working towards being more remote, I had experience in webinars and online training videos for our publicans. 

P&B: How did you find participating in the Road Test?
AB: It was really interesting to use a new product without first having a demonstration on how it works best, and not having to sit through a sales pitch for us to use it on our menus. 

P&B: What were your overall impressions of the Tofoo products and how did you make the most of them in your recipes?
AB: They are really good products in that they’re versatile in how they can be used. I didn’t want to just cube it and throw it into a recipe as this may put me off eating it as a consumer. But using it and presenting it differently makes the product more appealing to non-vegan diners. 

P&B: If you were to advise a pub chef on using the product, what would you say to them?
AB: Use it wisely. Have it on each section of the menu, but used in different ways so it’s not the same; this will help with managing stock control. 

P&B: To what extent is it necessary for pub chefs to keep trying new products in the kitchen?
AB: I try to see as many products as possible within reason – you never know when you’ll be needing that next new thing. 

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