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Menus Of The Future Arrive In NZ

27TH JUNE 2005

Menus Of The Future Arrive In NZ

A world-first online recipe development site that allows chefs to analyse the nutritional value of meals could change the way in which menus are developed and presented in restaurants to rest-homes.

MyRecipes ( was developed by Auckland-based menu consultancy company Menu Du Jour which specialises in maximising profits through menus. The new site offers chefs a safe and secure environment to input recipes down to the smallest measurement while tracking ingredient costs and availability. Ingredient pricing is updated directly from nation-wide suppliers who are also linked to the site.

MyRecipes is the brainchild of former chef and Menu du Jour owner Gavin Lovett. Lovett worked closely with Dunedin-based dietitian Amber Strong to develop the site which also features a unique Menu Guide labeling system. The labeling system allows chefs to identify items and suppliers matching special criteria like organic, GE Free, Kosher, sugar free, low fat and gluten free. These can then be incorporated into menus and recipe cards.

Lovett believes everyone from restaurants, cafes, fast food chains to schools, rest-homes and hospitals will one day be required to provide more nutritional information to diners – particularly in light of the mounting obesity debate.

“Currently the American Congress is considering whether or not to adopt the Menu Education and Labeling Act which would require menus to list calories, fat, carbohydrates and sodium levels,” he says. “The aim is to curb the rising cost of obesity in the States which is estimated to be US$117 billion in health care and related costs each year. A third of Americans aged 20 plus are obese while 15 per cent of children aged six to 19 are overweight and unfortunately, a similar trend is occurring in New Zealand.”

The Americans have identified restaurants as playing a crucial role in food education given they are dining out twice as much as they were in 1970 when going out to dinner was considered a ‘treat’.

According to the Restaurant Association of New Zealand there are now close to 10,000 food outlets nation-wide with 48% of total meals being dinner and 80% of annual sales in the restaurant, café and takeaway bar areas.

Lovett says incorporating a nutritional component in MyRecipes was vital given the increasingly important role diet plays in overall wellbeing.

“It was great to have Amber’s input in terms of the nutritional component of food as she has specialised in nutritional issues for corporates and non-corporate groups, as well as the food industry, for several years. She also has a particular interest in allergy, intolerance, nutrition and diabetes.”

“What we eat plays a direct role in overall wellbeing,” adds Strong, “and through my dietitian work I am finding an increasing number of people are struggling with restaurant menus or finding it hard to get food at the supermarket that meets their dietary requirements. That is why MyRecipes is such a great tool for those working in the area of menu development or preparation. It not only allows them to cost entire menus in a few hours, it also allows them to easily develop menus that meet a wide range of dietary needs.”

Lovett says MyRecipes was born after he took a head chef role at a Dutch café during his OE. “The café I was working in was having a rough time with a succession of owners over a short period of time,” he explains. “I was passionate about the business and wanted it to work so I went about costing a new menu I was introducing. I realised then that costing and creating recipes for menus is a time-consuming task that can tie up chefs for sometimes days. But it’s an essential job given the most critical consideration in running a profitable business is appreciating your recipe costs and pricing your menu accordingly.

“When I returned to New Zealand, I established Menu Du Jour, which is essentially a menu consultancy company offering everything from menu development and analysis to menu design and covers. But my goal was to create an online recipe costing and analysis service to streamline the process. MyRecipes is the end result and gives chefs the ability to cost their entire menu in one evening which is a huge saving in both time and money. It’s like a cookbook accessible from anywhere in the world with up to the minute ingredient costs. There is no time spent setting programs up or entering ingredient costs, yields or seasonal availability, you simply login and cost your entire menu in a few hours.”



Menu Du Jour is New Zealand's only menu consultancy company providing tailored solutions for food service establishments seeking maximum profit from their best in-house marketing tool – their menu. Menu Du Jour is also the provider and creator of MyRecipes – an innovative and easy way for chefs to cost and analyse menus, and find nutritional information, online.

With a specialised team of consultant chefs, a menu designer and a registered dietitian, Menu Du Jour work with establishments from a la carte restaurants to cafes, pubs, caterers and institutions New Zealand wide.


Gavin is the founder of Menu Du Jour. He is the driving force behind the business and referred to by some as the ‘menu doctor’. Gavin is an entrepreneur with a passion for cooking and great menus which he believes are the secrets behind every successful establishment. He graduated from Manukau Institute of Technology with a Trade Certificate in Professional Cookery and has worked in diverse and interesting operations from airline kitchens to hotels to small cafes and bars both locally and overseas. Gavin was cooking in a café in the Netherlands when he identified a need for an online system which assisted operations of all sizes to cost and develop profitable, nutritional menus. The end result is Menu Du Jour from which MyRecipes was born – creating an international first.


Welllington-based dietitian Amber Strong developed the nutritional components of MyRecipes. She has a special interest in diabetes and allergy and intolerance. Currently Amber is completing a MSc at Otago University. She also writes for Allergy New Zealand magazine Allergy Today and assists clients with a range of allergy and intolerance conditions.


Consultant chef Paul Maskery has over 12 years experience in New Zealand and overseas including a number of senior roles in award winning restaurants such as Harbourside, Orbit and the Relish Group establishments. Paul was also executive chef at leading restaurants like Auckland’s Soul Bar and Bistro, the Hunting Lodge, Novotel Rotorua and Novotel Auckland. Paul has led a team of chefs in Noosa at a famous Hasting Street restaurant. He currently teaches cooking at the Auckland Fish Market and acts as a consultant chef to Menu Du Jour.


Before joining Menu Du Jour as menu designer, Nicola worked in various full service advertising agencies in Europe specialising in event and architecture design. This experience in advertising, along with study in communication sciences involving marketing, statistics and research, makes Nicola uniquely qualified for menu design and Nicolas designs are said by many to be the best in New Zealand.


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