TGI Fridays Asia Pacific announces new leadership team including Group General Manager Duncan Thomson and chef Sunny Gilbert from MoVida. Together they’re revitalising the Australian menu; and it’s already wowing the international franchises.
There is a great little performance going on at our table. We ordered the guacamole and got a dinner show. The young waiter, we learn, is actually a ‘guacamologist’. We give our preference for levels of lime and Tabasco and within a minute we have a silky smooth guacamole, made to order and perfectly seasoned to our taste right in front of us. It’s fun and perfect. This is a new way of preparing a classic dish at the Australian venues of international bar and grill group TGI Fridays.
A Melbourne-based kitchen brains trust sharing more than 50 years of experience is revamping the food offer for the brand downunder. The food features more local produce, is tastier, fresher and more ingredient-driven. What is really interesting is that people are taking notice all over the world: people in the TGIF community abroad are now putting into practice what the Aussie team invented right here.
One of the biggest changes is in the burgers. TGIF in Australia is taking their burgers up several levels with beef burger patties sourced from ethical Tasmanian producer Cape Grim. This is the beef brand that appears in top restaurants around the nation who recognise that the grass fed and ethically raised beef is some of the best in the world. These slide alongside classic ingredients such as Colby cheese and streaky bacon and the usual condiments. We tried the Volcano, with grilled patties served in a black brioche bun with spicy ginger Gochujang sauce, fresh pickled onions, lemon aioli, melted Monterey Jack cheese, pepper bacon and roasted jalapenos. Delicious.
At the core of the menu, along with burgers, is the great American BBQ tradition of wings and ribs. Buffalo wings, the trimmed chicken wing dish made famous in a bar in Buffalo, New York State, are true to form at TGIF with wings tossed in their own version of the classic sauce. Keeping up the authentic feel is the side of celery sticks and blue cheese dressing. The ribs are just as authentically American with slow-cooked pork belly ribs finished on the chargrill and slathered with tangy BBQ sauce.
TGIF is owned in Australia by local business innovator Andrew Cox’s Imperium Group and has been for 15 years. He has instigated massive changes being overseen by Duncan Thomson, previously food and beverage Director of Melbourne Art Centre and General Manager of Giant Steps/Innocent Bystander winery. Former MoVida Head Chef Sunny Gilbert is putting in place these exciting and exceptionally delicious dishes.
‘We are evolving the brand to a more contemporary experience that suits the Australian market,’ says Duncan. ‘We have taken the TGIF offer and really made it our own. What people might not know is that we make, with few exceptions, all the food fresh – right on site in all the restaurants across Australia. The quality of the produce is second to none and Sunny is bringing that modern Australian restaurant presentation and kitchen skill to what is already really good food.’
While TGIF downunder has food that all Australians would be proud of, there is no denying the quality of the American-styled training of the bar staff. All bartenders know how to create more than 80 different cocktails, using only the best-known branded spirits. Beer is also big on the TGIF offer with a range of American and Australian brews especially chosen to match the broad range of food on offer. The staff, the food, the drink, the live sport… The new package at TGI Fridays is worth it.