For the second instalment of our Meet the Chef series, we chatted to Pizza Hut Restaurants’ Senior Menu Innovations Manager, Ciara Grace. She tells us all about her role as well as the new menu they’ve just launched. And vegans, you’re in luck – because there’re plenty of vegan delights on there.
Pizza Hut Restaurants
Ciara tells us herself, “Everyday is different at Pizza Hut Restaurants”. Life as the Senior Menu Innovations Manager means some days, she’ll visit different restaurants to see what the latest trends and new dishes are. Other days she’ll look into ingredients in more detail, like their tomato sauce, which needs to get the balance of sweet, salty and herby flavours just right. And on some days, she’ll be trying different pizza topping combinations: “This is the part I love because you can be really creative”.
When creating a new menu, Ciara and her team go through a process that starts with researching new food trends and listening to what their customers want. She tells us “We go through extensive food testing in our development kitchen before testing food in our Huts”. Taking on all feedback and reviews, Pizza Hut Restaurants make sure they’re always rolling out the best quality and best tasting food.
And that’s where the new vegan menu comes in. Using Vegan Ch**se on some pizzas since 2017, Pizza Hut Restaurants have now created a menu packed with vegan delights. And we ain’t just talking pizza. Vegans, get ready to eat your heart out.
“Everyday is different at Pizza Hut Restaurants.”
“The fan-favourite BBQ Jackfruit Pizza from Veganuary is back for good.”
So, why a new vegan menu?
Ciara told us “Having a dedicated vegan menu makes it easy for vegan customers to know exactly what they can eat”. And vegan guests can even get stuck into the individual and sharing meal deals now too.
Never ones to follow the crowd, the new Pizza Hut Restaurants vegan menu’s got an edge, using interesting ingredients and thinking outside the box: “We’re really proud to say that everything on our vegan menu is just as tasty and indulgent as any non-vegan pizza”. Not a standard vegan meal in sight.
What’s on the new vegan menu?
“The fan-favourite BBQ Jackfruit Pizza from Veganuary is back for good, alongside a whole host of new vegan pizzas.” Joining it’s the Vegan Hot ‘N’ Spicy Veg Pizza, featuring Violife Vegan Ch**se, peppers, jalapenos, red onions, flame roasted pepper & onions and Hut House seasoning. Plus, there’s the Vegan Virtuous Veg Pizza is stacked with Violife Vegan Ch**se, spinach, mixed peppers, red onions, mushrooms & cherry tomatoes topped with rocket.
Ciara tells us about new vegan starters on the menu, the Jack ‘N’ Roll: “A hot mix of BBQ jackfruit, sweet chilli sauce and Violife Vegan Ch**se wrapped in a baked tortilla”. And then for dessert, there’s the Cinnamon Bites: “Soft dough sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and drizzled in icing.”
Make sure you keep a close eye on Pizza Hut Restaurants’ vegan menu for any new additions that crop up. Because if they’re anything like these, you won’t wanna miss it.
So you’ve heard about her job, here’s a little more about Ciara…
What’s your first cooking memory?
“Walking past a bakery and being so blown away by all the amazing cakes and pastries, I asked my mum if we could go home and bake our own cakes. We spent the day baking biscuits and fairy cakes and the best bit was decorating them all.”
What inspired you to get into cooking?
“My Gran. She was always baking cakes and bread and there was always a delicious smell coming from her kitchen. My favourite was coconut biscuits that were soft and gooey on the inside but crunchy around the edge.”
If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?
“Pizza! It’s so versatile and delicious. And you can have so many different toppings and doughs.”
Name 5 ingredients you can’t live without…
“Chillis, Mushrooms, Cheese, Garlic and Pasta.”
The strangest ingredient you’ve ever cooked with? How did it turn out?
I recently brought back some chilli honey from New York and I’ve now started to put it in all my food. It’s great! I particularly like it on a pepperoni pizza, but I also tried it with some ice cream the other day and it was really good – a taste sensation.
Favourite music to cook to?
If you could share a meal with anyone, who would it be, and what would you eat?
“Italian restaurateur, Massimo Bottura. It would be a meal cooked by him including his famous ‘Five ages of Parmigiano Reggiano in different textures and temperatures’.”
Favourite Pizza Hut dish to eat?
“Philly Cheesesteak. It’s creamy and cheesy with delicious pieces of steak. It also uses our three cheese blend which is a mix of Red Leicester, Mozzarella and Monterey Jack which makes it look and taste even cheesier.”
“I couldn’t live without Chillis, Mushrooms, Cheese, Garlic and Pasta.”
“I recently brought back some chilli honey from New York and I’ve now started to put it in all my food. It’s great!”
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