Expanding a service-based brand into a retail line

When one of the best Lebanese chefs, Nicolas Audi wanted to expand his flavours and accessibility to a wider audience, he created, with the help of his son, Karim, Heat & Eat: a frozen foods brand inspired by his most iconic signature dishes.

Nicolas Audi is considered a superstar when it comes to catering. Referred to as “the culinary architect”, he hosted the most prestigious events in the region, from Cartier to Royal weddings; feasts anyone would dream to take part in, just to savour his food. The level of refinement, expertise and curiosity Nicolas Audi provides goes beyond imagination.

Nicolas Audi/ Heat & Eat
Packaging Design
Brand identity
Beirut, Lebanon

Nicolas Audi launched his brand, Nicolas Audi Catering in 2008, after years of experience in the industry. The success behind the brand led him to open various restaurants across Lebanon, and act as an ambassador for Lebanese and Mediterranean cuisines in the region.

In 2019, Lebanon entered one of the worst crises in History. 2020, we were all faced with a global pandemic.

A change of attitude, and a shift in business was required; an alternative to survive the economic crisis and global lockdown. Karim, one of the sons of Nicolas Audi, decided to venture into a more retail-oriented avenue, and offer its clientele signature dishes from the comfort of their homes, with the same quality ingredients he usually cooks with. Heat & Eat, a frozen ready-meal selection inspired by the journeys of Nicolas Audi, launches in 2021, propelling the legacy of his father forward.

Signature finesse and devotion to perfection

How can we portray the qualities of Nicolas Audi’s food in a package that will be on supermarket shelves, while standing out from the competition?

The idea behind Heat & Eat is, on one hand, to offer the signature dishes to a known clientele, but most importantly, to allow, through the sous-vide frozen technique they developed, for an expansion in scale and geography. It was, hence, essential for us to consider as our main audience, people who had never heard about the Nicolas Audi brand, turning Heat & Eat into an opportunity to invite new “comers” into the world of this chef through his quality dishes.
After quick market testing, we realised the audience leaned more towards the younger side compared to the typical clientele of Nicolas Audi catering. Therefore, we, as MFB, decided to create a brand that would appeal to a young crowd, vibrant, visually strong yet full of finesse.

The Heat & Eat Logo, Contemporary Classical 

The logo was designed to complement the Nicolas Audi main identity; blending refinement with mastery. We played around the verticality of the words being on top of each other to highlight the “eat” part, and the verticality of the letters themselves, condensed, to enhance the elegant aspect of the brand.

We closely observed Nicolas Audi’s handwriting, and noticed how he naturally connects certain letters together. Drawing our inspiration from this gesture, we enhanced connections between letters by including slanted lines, an homage to his handwriting.

Hand-drawn illustrations, realism with poetry 

Typically, most frozen food brands rely on photography to give customers ideas of what the dish looks like. We decided to go for a more alternative technique, one which brings realism with poesy; human with artisanal, and expert with style: we collaborated with a talented Lebanese illustrator, Chloe Sleilati, who masters realistic illustration. Based on the drawing style of Nicolas Audi, who also happens to be a genius at drawing, we commissioned Chloé to develop hand drawn illustrations that would bring the world of Nicolas Audi with the realism behind the dishes;  an equilibrium in which we grasp the nature of the dish, while delivering the Chef’s personality.

Colored categories for easy browsing

Or Distinguishable graphic elements for easy dish identification 

We created a palette of 4 main, strong, warm, bold and easily identifiable colours to help customers clearly distinguish and identify the desired dish type: bordeau for red meat, orange for white meat, blue for seafood and green for vegan.

To allow for quick grasping, we developed a series of icons to help customers visualise allergens, preparation time, and step-by-step technique.

You said frozen sous-vide?

In order to ensure freshness, preserve nutritional value and enhanced flavours, the Nicolas Audi team developed their dishes sous-vide. Typical frozen foods brands usually just need an oven or microwave. In this case, our role, as MFB, was also to inform the audience on why frozen sous-vide is better, and how to easily prepare the dishes in a few steps. Thus, we dedicated a section of the Heat & Eat package called “Why is frozen sous vide better?” tackling key aspects and benefits of this technique.

From a dish to an experience

Taking the dish as a starting point of a meal experience, we used the packaging as a tool to extend the Nicolas Audi moment. We integrated, on the back of the box, a QR code. This QR code will soon lead users to a web page which will complement the experience: wine pairing, themed playlists, movie suggestions and other ideas to turn a dish into a complete experience…More about this very soon!