How We Develop Recipes From Home
Here at Gousto, we develop all of our dishes in-house by a team of highly passionate and talented recipe developers. We’re on a mission to constantly improve our food offering through developing recipes that are more delicious, more healthy, more convenient, and more exciting to our customers. That means we’re always scrutinising our processes and our output and building on our learnings, all with the aim of becoming the nation’s most loved way to eat dinner.
Over the last few months, just like many other businesses across the UK (and the world), we’ve had to adapt how and where we work while still maintaining our high standards and continuing to deliver delicious dishes to millions of people.
This does require a huge amount of collaboration, though. When we are working from the office, it’s easy to feel connected to each recipe developed – we’d all taste every dish together and set aside time to discuss the flavour profiles and the method in detail. This has all had to radically change with our transition to working from home.
You may wonder how we can develop without all tasting each other’s food? It’s certainly a challenge, but we’ve put more emphasis on our concept sign-off gated process; If the idea is strong then you’re already well on the way to creating a great recipe. Each developer then creates a video diary to talk through each recipe, from the taste down to the amount of washing up that is accumulated through the cook – not to mention what our family or housemates thought of the dish!
The whole team catches up three times a week to all watch and discuss the diaries in detail, which is followed by a rigorous testing process within the recipe development team, where we will cook each others’ dishes and deliver feedback, prioritising meals with new techniques and flavours.
In our development kitchen, we had a pantry stocked full of our own bespoke ingredients, but this isn’t feasible for developing from a personal kitchen – no-one has that much fridge space! Ingredient shortages in supermarkets, especially in the early months of lockdown, meant that actually getting hold of many ingredients was a challenge. Fortunately, the dedication from our factory teams has been our saving grace. Every week they will pack bespoke boxes for each recipe developer, the photography team, and a select group of in-house super testers to ensure we have all we need to continue with our development. This has been a monumental effort, especially given the spike in orders since the start of the year, so we owe a huge amount of credit to this team of unsung heroes.
Finally, we’ve had to re-think how we inspire ourselves creatively. As a team we develop over 500 recipes each year, so keeping engaged with trends and constantly learning about the food world is paramount. The option to go on a food safari and explore the UK’s food scene has, sadly, been much more challenging, so we established a work stream, Creativity 101, to ensure the team is allocating time to foster their own creativity. This has come in the form of guest speakers, such as former Masterchef winner Tim Anderson, and innovation days, including a foodie team activity exploring a certain topic that’s relevant to us.
Being open to adapting processes has been crucial to maintaining high quality output in this new working environment. It’s been important to identify what makes up the fabric of our team’s success and finding ways to replicate that as best we can.
For the recipe development team, it’s all about working in a collaborative way and nurturing our creativity. Whilst this year has forced us to re-think how this works, we’ve found creative solutions so we can continue to develop high quality, innovative products for our customers – from our kitchens, straight to theirs.