Successful meat development day for southwest chophouse and multi-site restaurant group

The Immersive Group is a collection of restaurants, boutique pubs with rooms, steakhouses, and cocktail bars located across the southwest of England. Forward-thinking owners, Dave, Aimee, and Matthew believe in giving their customers an immersive experience that includes the food, drink, décor, service and authenticity, they also operate a number of seasonal pop-up bars and festivals that take place throughout the year in the market town of Salisbury.

As a long-standing member, Regency Purchasing Group has supported the restaurant group for several years sharing their purchasing and operational expertise as the group has continued to build on their success with continued expansion as they’ve added new venues to the collection.

The latest addition to the group’s portfolio was Hixon, a modern chophouse in Salisbury, Wiltshire which opened in spring 2023, with a menu featuring the highest quality steaks, the freshest seafood and an impressive selection of sides.

As part of a regular review meeting with their Regency Procurement Manager, the team at Hixon expressed a desire to explore alternative meat suppliers to provide them with high-quality meat products with greater consistency, product quality and, with rising costs, more competitive pricing.

Regency Procurement Managers, Greg Finney and Anna Matthews worked with the Immersive Group management team to review the contracted meat prices and service level agreements of their incumbent supplier, as well as fully understanding the restaurant’s meat purchasing requirements. The brief focused on finding a supplier who could source exceptional meat products (to maintain the restaurant’s reputation for serving only the finest cuts), as well as product consistency and no/minimal wastage.

Following an in-depth product and price analysis conducted by the Regency insights team, a potential new supply partner was identified for the restaurant – a national wholesaler who was already supplying the restaurant with food and drink from other categories.

To allow the chefs, restaurant and management team to explore the quality, cuts and taste of the meat products available from the new supplier, the Regency team organised a meat development day and like-for-like product cook-off, with cuts of meat from the existing and potential new supplier.

The cook-off was led by Regency’s in-house Development Chef, Andy Chan, who worked in partnership with Hixon’s experienced Head Chef, Connor Rance and his kitchen brigade… In the Hixon restaurant kitchen, the chefs worked together to cook the various steaks featured on the restaurant’s menu, with cuts from the two competing suppliers.

Without disclosing the supplier of each cut, the management, restaurant and kitchen teams scrutinised the different steaks, including sirloin, fillet, rib-eye, rump, tomahawk and short-rib steaks, scoring each cut for its quality, appearance and taste.

The new supplier’s in-house butchery specialist and area manager also attended the development day allowing for open discussions about the products being tasted, the wider product range, supply chain and service level agreements, as well as their highly competitive pricing.

Following a hugely insightful (and very filling!) day, the scores were counted and the final votes revealed – with a unanimous vote for the new supplier (with some constructive feedback on the appearance of the fillet steak).

The newly-selected supplier is now providing the restaurant with great-tasting, high-quality British and Irish farmed meat for all dishes on the menu. The supplier’s in-house butchery will also be working closely with Connor, Hixon’s Head Chef, to help train and educate his kitchen team – in particular apprentice chefs – in the art of butchery using their on-site butchery facilities.

The new meat products have also been updated on MenuIQ instantly highlighting the increased GPs of each dish, while managing allergen compliance.

Hixon Head Chef, Connor Rance commented:

“We knew that the price points of the recommended supplier were more competitive than our existing supplier, but cooking off and comparing the meat products gave us an amazing opportunity to try the cuts of meat before we made any decisions.”

“It was great to have the support of Andy [Regency’s Development Chef] in the kitchen working alongside my team of chefs – myself and my team all tasted each of the cuts and it was great to involve them all in the process.”

“I’m really looking forward to working with our new supplier to continue to develop our menus and my team.”

Director of The Immersive Group, Matthew Thorne, added:

“Over the past seven years, Regency has helped us access better pricing from existing and new suppliers as well as assisting us with any supply chain challenges we’ve faced.”

“Our Procurement Manager is always on hand to offer advice and support and the successful delivery of this recent food development day further highlights Regency’s understanding of our business needs and their dedication to do all they can to support restaurant businesses like ours“.

If you’re interested in taking part in a food development session with any of our suppliers, please contact your Procurement Manager for more information.

Take a look at the video and photos from the day below:

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