One of the more amusing media releases to cross my desk recently was one from Robertsons, proclaiming a trend to a greater use of bottled spices and herbs by chefs, clearly an attempt by the company’s Marketing department to resurrect the reputation of Chef Reuben Robertsons Riffel, who endorses their brand.
Quoting Michael Mellis, MD of Unilever Food Solutions South Africa, the media release praises the quality of the Robertsons’ products: ‘Robertsons has come a long way since it was established almost 90 years ago – but it has never lost sight of the excellent quality that has always been an intrinsic part of the brand heritage. Today our products are used by people who strive to create consistently good and flavourful meals, in fact, sales of the renowned Robertsons Chicken Spice have now reached unprecedented levels, with one unit being sold every 90 seconds‘.
The release gushes on in a sales driven manner, despite being written by Strategic Public Relations: ‘Robertsons Signature Flavours are the tried and trusted herbs and spices that have been faithful companions to chefs throughout their often illustrious careers. The range includes BBQ, Steak & Chops, Fish, and Chicken spices for use with main meal protein, and Chip & Potato, Veggie Seasoning and Savoury Rice for use on side dishes‘! They add: ‘Robertsons products are always made using the purest quality herbs and spices that offer superior taste and strength, ensuring that only a small amount is necessary to add wonderfully to just about any dish‘.
The company claims that there is a profit benefit in using Robertsons spices as ‘convenience ingredients‘ whilst allowing chefs to add their own creative touch to their signature dishes. ‘This trend has seen many chefs returning to the Robertsons products that they probably used – and loved – in their early days of cooking, and rediscovering the excellent flavours available in the range as well as the reliability and consistently good quality of the products – while also discovering our new products that are already making their mark on the culinary landscape, such as the increasingly popular Chip & Potato Spice’.
The release adds a final note of self-aggrandizement in saying that its product range is attractive to new young chefs and to the older established ones as well, with whom they are communicating and providing advice and support to. We do not believe the unsubstantiated media release at all, it being an insult to the wonderful chefs and restaurants in our country! Globally the trend is to fresh self-planted and nurtured herbs, and self-sourced unique specialist spices.
Interestingly Chef Reuben Robertsons Riffel’s name is not mentioned in the release at all, which they could have done to build on their endorsement. Riffel has no credibility as a serious chef in this country any more after he sold his soul to the Robertsons brand when it became a sponsor of MasterChef SA. His collection of five restaurants has not featured on the Eat Out Top 20 shortlist or Best of awards for a number of years! His endorsement has no credibility for Robertsons, as Riffel has had to publicly admit that he only uses the products at his home and not in his restaurants, therefore a marketing con by Robertsons!
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage