Interview with Thomas Rabuel, Restaurant Manager at Club Gascon
Building a serious, ranging and most of all tasty tea offering into your menu is key if you want to improve customer satisfaction and increase yield. We spoke with one of the pioneers from Club Gascon, Thomas Rabuel, who have developed an industry leading tea pairing menu to find out what you need to consider when developing a tea offering.
Thomas will be speaking at our Tea Pairing Session for F&B executives, if you are interested click here to find out more.
1. What do you feel are the most compelling factors for hospitality execs to consider when procuring a tea provider?
When we decided to develop our tea offering at the restaurant, it was not only about getting the world’s finest tea leaves, it was about finding a provider able to show us how to get the best from them.
This was done through their expertise, a depth training for our staff members with the appropriate tea ware and accessories. We then had someone help us to create and provide a unique experience for our guests.
2. With an increase in consumption of better quality tea on the up, how substantial is the opportunity for food service to generate revenues from tea all day long?
Tea is the most popular drink in UK (29% of the population drink it daily), the modern consumer is now willing to pay more for a tea when it is sold as a premium product.
Tea is also becoming very trendy in Europe. The search for individual, gourmet and quality tea is following the same path which we see coffee has travelled. Tea is very fashionable for young people as it is generally perceived as a healthier drink than soda or coffee. This has resulted in an increasing demand for green, herbal and fruit teas.
3. Club Gascon have successfully launched a 6 course tea pairing menu to counteract a decline in alcohol consumption, why was tea perceived to be a suitable replacement?
As mentioned previously, tea once it has been picked, infused and served as it should be becomes a premium product.
We are offering our diners a unique experience with a tailored-made wine pairing, so we wanted to be able to follow the same process with the tea.
Our Sommeliers are introducing the tea, talking about his origin, the tasting notes and why it has been specifically selected with a dish. Each tea is served following a traditional ceremony (called Gong-Fu) involving the ritualized preparation and presentation of tea (decanted and served on a hand-made bamboo tray).
It was an incredible opportunity for us to provide a similar experience in terms of interaction and experience for our dinners.
4. What scientific factors if any are taken into consideration whilst decided which tea to pair with which foods from the Club Gascon menu?
Fortunately, tea is a versatile beverage, and you can pair it with a wide variety of foods, from spicy dishes to the sweetest chocolate desserts. So whenever we are designing our tea pairing, we remain focused on the main ingredient to define the tea variety to be used ( Black tea, White Tea, Herbal Tea etc.)
There are some basic rules such as a white tea will complement perfectly a lightly flavoured seafood or fish recipe. Black tea has the most robust flavour, and the most pronounced tannins, so it’s indicated to pair it with full-flavored foods, like spicy dishes and red meat.
Once the tea variety is selected, we take in consideration the elements from the garnish or the sauce to decide whether the tea needs smoky, earthy or floral notes.
5. What is your favourite savoury tea pairing combination?
A Red Mullet filet “A LA PLANCHA”, with Courgette Flowers and Lobster Bisque paired with the Chinese Iron Buddha, Oolong Tea
6. For anybody wishing to inspire their palate, what can they look forward to should they take tea at Club Gascon?
Our tea and infusion menu is evolving with each season, with featured teas such as Dragon Well Green Tea, Organic Bohea Lapsang Smoked Black Tea, Phoenix Honey Orchid Oolong Tea or even a Rose Bud Cold Infusion.
These are some of the top tips from one of the industry leaders who has been there and created a great tea menu so hopefully it is helpful to you in developing your tea offering!
If you would like to try the tea menu at Club Gascon find out more details here.
If you would like to hear Thomas speak in more detail and pair teas with food come along to our tea pairing event on the 23rd of November, more details here.