Menu Master March

Helping chefs get the best from their budgets

Wellocks’ Menu Master helps chefs manage budgets and buy the best value produce at the peak of freshness and flavour. Every month, our expert buyers give you seasonal tips on how to boost your GP, create great dishes and keep your customers happy.

Market update
Although supplies have picked up from southern Europe after severe weather destroyed many crops, many producers remain uncertain about the long term impact on other crops and prices as we move into spring. Other factors affecting fresh produce and food prices in general include the uncertainties surrounding Brexit and currency issues because of the weakened pound against the dollar and the Euro hitting imports, fuel and many commodity prices. As a result of this – and other factors – inflation is expected to continue throughout 2017.

March best UK picks
Buying British where you can will boost your budget and increase your margins. UK winter veg is coming to an end but make the most of them while you can. Carrots, potatoes, turnips, parsnips, swede, beetroot, onions, winter-resistant leeks, cauliflowers, and Brussels sprouts will never taste better than they do right now – or be a better price.

There’s good quality and great availability for UK-grown brassicas including Savoy cabbage, white cabbage, red cabbage, spring greens and curly kale. Spring signals the arrival of more British produce – don’t miss Wye Valley asparagus! Yorkshire forced rhubarb is coming down from its peak price – and still a joy on the plate and competitively priced when compared with more exotic fruit from overseas.

March best overseas picks
In season and in great supply are some superb vegetables and salad leaves from Italy. Look out for monk’s beard – perfect lightly steamed with a dash of olive oil and lemon, viola aubergine, cipollotti onions, cime di rapa, and tender salad leaves such as castelfranco, puntarelle and radicchio treviso.

The French asparagus season starts properly this month – with Loire valley producing the best – and wild mushrooms are now available. Morels, cultivated and wild, and the chicken of the woods are delicate but super tasty – make them the star of the plate or serve as the perfect side dish to go with the last menus of winter.

In abundant supply are Amalfi lemons, blood oranges, Caribbean Queen pineapples, cherries, finger limes, goldrush apples and Meyer lemons.

First of the season
Wet garlic from Egypt, fresh Italian peas and broad beans, Jersey royals and gariguettes

March Best Buys: Wellocks’ Super GP Busters
Purple sprouting broccoli UK – £5.20 per kg
Spring cabbage UK – now at £0.76 each
UK (Wye Valley) asparagus
Foraged wild garlic, wild leek, sea aster, douglas fir – UK
Morels: cultivated and wild now available. First of the wild – outstanding flavour.
Kai lan (grown exclusively for us by our own supplier in Thailand) – a great alternative to spinach
White asparagus – at its best, slightly lower in price £20.70 per kg
Brassicas – UK
Kale – UK
Leeks – UK
Spring greens – UK
Carrots – UK
Citrus fruits – navel oranges, lemons, grapefruit, blood oranges – Spain/Italy
Pink Lady apples