Recently there has been lots of buzz around restaurant called Wolf here in Singapore. They embrace “nose-to-tail”-ideology, which was coined by Fergus Henderson, whose restaurant St.John has been the culprit of the movement. Basically nose-to-tail eating means that you utilize all the parts of pig (or other animal).
I think it is an interesting phenomenon and there are certain lesson marketer can learn from nose-to-tail eating:
1. Sense the opportunity
Eating animal parts like tongue was common back in the day, because they were inexpensive. You utilized the whole hog, because you did not want waste good any edible parts. Nowadays the average restaurant visitor is so distanced from the body parts of animal, that there is opportunity now to charge high premium for previous b-grade product like bone marrow. Offal, bone marrow or even liver used to be common dishes but now they are exotic. On the other hand, average restaurant visitor is more adventurous cultural eater nowadays having been exposed to cuisines around the world. This provides great opportunity to reinvent some long lost meat dishes to paying audience.
2. Go back to the roots
Henderson did not need to reinvent wheel. Many of dishes are based on forgotten British recipes. Whereas other competitors were either looking for hypermodern approach (molecular gastronomy) or ethical cuisine for inspiration, Ferguson used the parts everyone else neglected. More often brands should really revisit what has made them unique instead of trying to revamp themselves every other year. Sometimes the answer to your problem is closer than you would believe.
3. Build the philosophy
When the money was tight, it made sense to utilize the whole animal. It strikes a chord well also with current discussion around ethicality of meat eating and always when financial crisis hits. Like Fergus Henderson concluded:
“If you´re going to kill the animal it seems only polite to eat the whole thing”
It is not exactly going vegetarian or addressing the problems of meat production, but it is still step to the right direction.
4. Name it well
Nose-to-tail invokes curiosity and immediately tells what to expect. It is also quite open canvas to experiment as you can serve anything starting from nose ending to the tail. It does not exclude you to serve more “normal” items as well”
5. Make business sense
Making profit in restaurant business is actually about making more out of less costly ingredients instead of charging high premium of expensive items. Wagyu beef is expensive for the restaurant as well. So when done well, nose-to-tail is makes quite a much business sense as well. The premium you can charge for tongue is quite high.
6. Deliver with passion
There are no shortcuts to excellence. Even with the five above points intact without the passion and craft for good food, Nose-to-tail eating would not be the phenomenon what it is now. In the current competitive landscape it is not enough that your product is superb, you have to tell a good story as well.
I have not yet tested Wolf, so the verdict is still out for its quality. Otherwise, I am firm believer of nose-to-tail eating.
Firstly it makes a good story and the most importantly it tastes good!