To deliver an exceptional dining experience, Jamie’s Italian uses only the freshest of ingredients to serve mouth-watering creations. Senior Brand Manager, Nick Kypreos, discusses Jamie’s seasonal menu concept and shares his favourite dish on the menu.
TO WHAT EXTENT IS JAMIE OLIVER INVOLVED IN DEVELOPING THE RECIPES?
NK: People always ask this! What happens is that our recipes are tested and perfected in England by a group of individuals who work closely with Jamie to ensure that they are Jamie recipes.
EXPLAIN THE CONCEPT BEHIND THE JAMIE’S ITALIAN SEASONAL MENU.
NK: There are 63 Jamie’s Italian restaurants globally and each one follows the same framework in terms of menu sections. There will be pasta, pizza, mains, salads, sides, bruschetta, antipasti, and planks on every menu.
Each Jamie’s produces two menus a year: Fall/Winter and Spring/Summer. We try to introduce the Fall/Winter in the September/early October time frame.
Certain dishes will stay in both the menus and are the same on every menu across the world because they are just fan favourites. It’s the additional seasonal recipes that appear in each of one of those categories that will pop in and out.
The recipes themselves are all Jamie recipes that either came from a Jamie’s cookbook, or from Jamie himself. Within a given recipe, each restaurant has a bit of free range to make suggestions based on the local market and the foods that are available.
For instance, within our Fall/ Winter menu, you will see a lot of root vegetables and apples used in the various dishes. These ingredients are available locally in the GTA and the Golden Horseshoe this time of year—we are not going to put on something very unseasonal. This gives us our voice within the context of Jamie’s recipe bank.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE SOURCES OF INSPIRATION BEHIND CREATING THE SEASONAL MENU?
NK: We are lucky here in the GTA in that we live in a bit of a cornucopia of produce. Being blessed with so many fantastic offerings in the spring/summer harvest allowed us to create a special menu using ingredients such as peaches, fresh cherries and spring onions. Now, going into Fall, we will see root vegetables, squashes, soups—things that are a lot more hearty—that type of inspiration.
WHAT INGREDIENTS ARE ACQUIRED LOCALLY?
NK: Any ingredients we can source locally that meet our quality standards will be used. At Jamie’s, our mandate is to source locally first with quality at the forefront. If a local product is inferior quality, then we’re not going to take it simply because it’s local. When the quality is up to our standards and it is local - that’s our first choice.
HOW DO YOU ENSURE THE QUALITY OF THE PRODUCE?
NK: We are very hands-on; it’s just as simple as that. The beauty of our restaurants is they are not run from head office. We have a full-time store person whose exclusive job is to receive orders daily. They have very firm instructions to send back any item that is not to Jamie’s Italian standards.
I'm most proud of the fact that we won't accept an inferior product for price effectiveness. We don’t take products that are near the end of their shelf life as we demand the freshest produce possible.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE DISH ON THE MENU?
NK: That’s a really difficult question because I sincerely love a lot of our menu items. I am a simple and traditional type of guy; if I had to make choice, I think our Tagliatelle Bolognese is absolutely phenomenal. It comes down to the quality of the beef, pork, and tomato that is used in the sauce along with the freshness of the pasta. Add the fact that we use Parmigiano Reggiano, and not an imitation parmesan, and it all comes together for an absolutely fantastic food experience.
It’s a recipe that is always on the menu. There’s a lot of favourites, but if i have to pick one, this is the one that I feel represents Jamie and what Jamie’s Italian is all about.