Rama Social, a new food concept that blends Japanese flavours with Latin soul, has been named the winner of an annual casual dining competition organised by Elior UK brand, Lexington Catering.
The winning team’s concept will be introduced across Lexington’s business, with members also enjoying a dinner at a top London restaurant, and a masterclass with Dhruv Baker, winner of 2010 MasterChef and one of the competition judges.
Rama Social is based on Nikkei food which is all about fusion cooking and the winning team experimented with different cooking techniques – from Japanese cooking to Hibachi grilling on flavoured wood, marinading and preserving South American ingredients. The team further developed the Nikkei style of food by introducing flavours from Brazil and Mexico and applying them not just to savoury dishes but also to cocktails and desserts.
The competition is a team event and open to all sites across Lexington’s Business & Industry business. Each participating team is briefed to create a new casual dining/street food pop up concept which could be implemented at their own site or across the wider business.
In total 27 teams entered – and submitted written entries – and 10 teams were chosen to showcase their concepts to the judges. Six finalists were chosen to attend the final at OKN1, a collaborative kitchen and dining space at New City College, Hackney, and the home of Lexington’s Chef School. Over 150 clients and guests attended and sampled the food concepts developed by the six finalists and voted for their favourite brand which accounted for 50% of the final score.
A prestigious panel of industry experts – including MasterChef winner Dhruv Baker, ex Temper restaurants founder and founder of plant-based food company Symplicity, Neil Rankin, Stevie Reece from Mr Pig Stuff and Michal Seal, Marketing Director for Elior – chose the winning concept.
Matt Wood, Lexington managing director, comments: “This competition highlights the passion and creativity that exists across our business. Not only was it impressive that 27 teams participated in the competition but it was extremely exciting to witness such high levels of innovation and talent. It was thrilling to experience such a delicious range of food options and know that Lexington teams had created these amazing concepts.”
MasterChef winner and Tempus Foods founder, Dhruv Baker, adds: “What an honour to be asked to be a judge for a truly spectacular event. The Lexington Casual Dining Competition was a showcase of the width and breadth of the immense talent that Lexington Catering has. Stunning food, beautifully conceived and perfected executed. I was blown away by the sheer brilliance of it all. Such passionate people exhibiting immense talent – it was a treat to witness.”
Neil Rankin, chef and restaurateur, says: “Everyone was brilliant but the worthy winners fed me one of the best tacos I’ve eaten and I’ve eaten a few!”
Each entry had to include the following:
- Food cost of £3 per head
- Marketing plan including promotional material, banners, menus and uniforms
- Mobilisation plan
- Description of equipment from food stands to display materials
- Recipes for all menu items
- Supporting photos, materials and ideas.
The other five finalists created diverse concepts ranging from modern British small plates and vegan junk food to Hawaiian poke bowls, Lebanese street food and Hungarian desserts with a British twist.