Yorkshire ‘feel good’ food and drink chain Filmore & Union takes a bite of the ‘Big Apple’ for Stateside foodie inspirationNovember 7, 2017 9:20 am
Adele Ashley, founder and owner of Yorkshire-born ‘feel good’ food & drink chain Filmore & Union, recently returned from a trip to New York with two of the company’s development chefs ahead of the launch of a cutting edge new evening festive menu at her flagship Harrogate restaurant on 14 November 2017.
Adele was accompanied by Annabelle Cole and Luke Mills who work at Filmore & Union’s headquarters in Wetherby, West Yorkshire, developing innovative and exciting new dishes to be rolled out to the company’s 14 stores across Yorkshire and the North East. A recent £3.5m investment will see the brand embark upon ambitious national growth plans over the next few years and the trip to New York was part of Adele’s strategy to keep the Filmore & Union offer at the forefront of the latest international food, drink, and wellness trends.
Annabelle is a vegan, Luke is a meat-eater, and Adele is pescatarian and gluten/dairy free. Together, they work to create menus that offer customers something they can’t find elsewhere on their local high street. They experiment with eclectic combinations of health-inspired ingredients in hearty, satisfying dishes with a wide variety of new and interesting options for those with special dietary requirements.
The new evening winter menu with a festive twist at the Harrogate restaurant will aim to raise the bar even higher in order to make Filmore & Union stand out in the highly competitive food scene in the town. It includes dishes such as vegan walnut pâté with kumquat marmalade, beetroot crackers, verjus pickled radish; lavender crumb queen scallops, crab blinis, nori crisp & mango fennel dressing; miso chicken supreme, hibiscus roasted cauliflower, sweet potato & kale crisps; cacao fillet steak with warm winter salad, celeriac & potato fries; charcoal cod on celeriac courgetti, apple blossom, rose & red cabbage gazpacho; vegan matcha crème brûlée with cardamom shortbread.
The five day trip to New York in October 2017 involved the enviable task of sampling the latest new restaurant concepts to hit the ‘Big Apple’, gathering inspiration and ideas for their new menu development – as well as checking out where their current offer sits against international competitors.
Adele said: “We’re always looking to stay ahead of the game when it comes to new food trends and use of cutting edge ingredients and we know that, particularly with the increasing popularity of vegan cuisine, New York is seen as the ‘mecca’ for what’s hot.
“We believe that food and drink should be all about enjoyment and indulgence especially in the lead up to Christmas, so we wanted to see how our hearty Yorkshire portions fared in comparison to the stereotypically big appetites of New Yorkers. Our aim is to provide our health-conscious customers some of whom have special dietary requirements with ultimate convenience when eating out or ‘on the go’, which is what the food scene in the ‘city that never sleeps’ is all about.”
The trio stayed in an Air B&B apartment in the Upper East Side in order to fully immerse themselves in New York city life, and visited some of the city’s newest and most innovative restaurants during their trip.
Adele continued: “Luke had never been to the US before so it was chance for him to see how things are done Stateside. It was also an opportunity for all three of us to challenge ourselves and each
other on developing menus using pure, natural ingredients that don’t compromise on taste or satisfaction.
“We know that UK consumers are now opening their eyes to the fact that even if you are not strictly gluten free or vegan, it’s good to try new things and that pure, wholesome food is the best route to improved wellbeing. We were expecting to be blown away by the food in New York, especially when it came to new innovations in vegan dining such as ‘By Chloe’, which is being billed as the new ‘vegan McDonalds’. However, we were very disappointed with the quality and extortionate prices. The best meal we had was at a plant-based restaurant called ABCv but the bill was $278 for just two small sharing plates and a glass of wine each!”
The team also visited some organic vegetable stores to check out the locally sourced fresh produce, which they were impressed by.
Adele added: “We’ve come back with a few ideas to incorporate into our food development work but we also learnt a huge amount about what not to do and how we can continue to offer a world-leading and unique ‘neighbourhood dining’ experience here in Yorkshire.”
Filmore & Union prides itself on providing its staff with rewarding careers that provide opportunities for development. Many of its management team have been nurtured, trained, and promoted from within. Initiatives such as food development trips like the one to New York are part of the company’s commitment to high quality staff learning and development.