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Spotlight on the Cuisine Centre

Case Study

We caught up with Kate Edgecombe, the Head of New Product Development for Cuisine Centre, as the latest round of menu development is set to launch.

Tell us a little bit about your role at the Cuisine Centre.

I have been working at Cuisine Centre for the last 10 years, and within the food industry for the last 16 years. I am currently responsible for new product development within the Cuisine Centre. I have an MSc in Human Nutrition and utilise that expertise to develop products that not only taste great and are safe to eat, but are nutritionally balanced.

Let’s discuss the product development process you mention.

It takes around 30 weeks to take a product from concept to launch, which all takes place at both our Cuisine Centres. This involves a robust staged process, to ensure our products are safe and can be made within our facilities to the same high standard every day. New product development is a team effort alongside the wider Healthcare team, including our Dietitian, Maxine Cartz and Culinary Director, Bruce Toon.

We start by looking at trends and data to ensure we are developing products that are right for the market and taste great. Sustainability is integral to developing new products and our ambition to utilise sustainable ingredients is gaining momentum, for example as we look to use more plant-based proteins in our recipes where suitable.

Being right for the market: how do you use food trends to shape the menu?

We are always exploring current food trends and assessing when the right time is to incorporate these into a patient menu. Whilst our menus are geared heavily towards traditional meals, as many patients find these comforting and familiar, often what's needed during illness, it is important for us to incorporate a wide variety of cuisines to ensure all our patients have a choice. Some new examples this season are Peri Peri Chicken and Chicken and Mushroom Stroganoff Cobbler.

Feedback is important in driving change.

Final decisions on menu choices, involves the expertise of the Cuisine Centre and Compass stakeholders, such as Dietitians and we engage with our clients at the hospitals, as well as patients. Our hospital partners and patients’ feedback is so valuable in ensuring we are driving the right decisions on our products.

What future developments are in the pipeline?

We understand that many people in hospital are nutritionally vulnerable and may also have a poor appetite. We have had smaller portions on menus for many years, but this cycle we have developed mini meals – meals which are energy dense and small, so as not to overwhelm these patients. In the spring we will be launching a delicious Broccoli and Cheddar Pasta and a rich and creamy Chicken and Mushroom Stroganoff Cobbler. With our cobbler we have incorporated red lentils into the sauce – not only does this increase the protein in the dish, but also means we can reduce the amount of chicken in the product to help with our sustainability targets.  

In the next few weeks, we will be getting all our delicious new products ready for the new menus. But before we have even launched those, we will be busy reviewing our data and trends to start creating the dishes for our autumn winter menus.

Kate Edgecombe - Head of New Product Development for Cuisine Centre