JUMEIRAH RESTAURANTS INTERVIEW: The Noodle House
April 26th, 2012
Lloyd Carter, executive development chef at Jumeirah Restaurants’ The Noodle House reveals exactly what takes a homegrown brand to international success
The Noodle House, the Jumeirah Restaurants flagship brand, is set to celebrate its 10th year of operations in May. Not only that, it has recently been awarded Superbrand status in the UAE, directors have signed new territory Morocco, and are on the brink of signing franchise rights for a “key European market”.
Its success is down to its fresh menu and ability to constantly evolve, says executive development chef, Lloyd Carter, who is responsible for delivering achievable menus for all of the Dubai restaurants and the international franchises.
Having just arrived back from a trip to Thailand, Carter reveals that he spent three months travelling last year and stressed the importance of keeping close contact with suppliers and cuisine developments in the countries whose food you are emulating.
“We’ve spent a lot of time travelling to Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam recently,” explains Lloyd. “It’s been for our new dim sum project, which we’re very excited about – we’ve been sourcing a supplier to provide dim sum for our restaurants here and internationally, and also for retail.
“We believe we’ve found the right partner who can replicate our signature dim sum,” he continues. “I’ve given them recipes we already use, and some new ideas, and we’ve then worked with them to make sure all their suppliers are to the standard that we require. Then we signed off the products and the recipes, so now the dim sum will be shipped in to us, and we can then ship them out to all of our partners.”
Carter goes on to explain that it is a frozen product they will be serving, which will save greatly on food waste, while not compromising on quality.
“Everything is Individually Quick Frozen, so therefore the product stays as fresh as possible – they deliver as good as any fresh product. If we don’t sell a product we don’t have to throw it away. We try to utilise every bit of our ingredients and we have a very low wastage point,” he says.
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Hitting the road
But it’s not just supplier countries that Carter has to travel to. With Jumeirah Restaurants inking deals with new territories at a fast rate, including Russia, Lebanon and, more recently, Morocco, there’s a lot of research that has to be done to get franchise menus engineered.
“On these kind of trips I arrive, check into the hotel and then hit the road to have a look at what’s around: what cuisine is popular; see what competition The Noodle House would have and take a couple of menus; try to understand operationally how they deliver their menus; then at the back end of the trip, when I’ve got a grasp on what the market is like, I spend time with key suppliers.”
Carter needs to be in touch with international markets to keep The Noodle House menus on-trend, and it’s this which helps keep the brand constantly feeling new. “Health is big up there at the moment, in Europe,” he reveals. “Which is why we’ve introduced four new salads into our new menu: seared salmon and green mango (because mangos are in their prime at the moment); Thai beef salad with a nam jim dressing; and a crispy duck salad with hoisin and watermelon.
“And you’ll probably find salt reduction will be coming a trend soon. Already we operate as a non-msg brand, and we’re probably the only one that can state that all of our ingredients are non-msg. We also only use soya sauce and fish sauce to flavor our dishes, with no added salt.”
Carter, or the operations manager, also carries out a brand audit on each of the Noodle House franchise partners twice a year. “It’s something that’s taken very seriously,” he says. “We give the partners the tools to do the job, then it’s about making sure they have the support they need to roll out what the rest of the partners have done. It’s about policing and making sure they have the support.”
Carter, based in Dubai, also has to take into account international markets when coming up with new dishes: “90% of the main menu has to be suitable for the local and the international markets, then we give our partners a choice for 10% of the menu – it’s flexible for them so they can cater for local needs and tastes,” he concludes.