Flavor Trends, Strategies and Solutions for Menu Development

By Katie Ayoub
March 9, 2022

Keith Brunell is the chef and director of food and beverage at Nordstrom Restaurants, with 14 distinct concepts, both full serve and quick serve, at 216 locations throughout the U.S. and Canada. The restaurants range from American bistros and cafés to marketplaces and modern grills. In partnership with the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, Brunell developed the Crispy Wild Alaska Pollock Spicy Hanoi Noodle Bowl, reporting that bowls continue to grow in popularity at his restaurants in all dayparts. “Bowls have proliferated due to their ability to encompass simplicity. They’re also a canvas for innovation, where flavors, textures, indulgence, health and wellness, and diverse ethnic flavors become homogenized,” says Brunell. “Bowls are popular with consumers, as they present well, travel well and are often built to be customizable for dietary restrictions.”

To build this seafood-centric bowl, Brunell takes a bold flavor approach. “The fish is the hero, with a quick flash fry to capture moisture in a crust made with rice flour, turmeric and smoked paprika, which provides crunch, color and depth of flavor without overpowering the pollock,” says Brunell. Flavor and texture building are key to modern bowls and are on full display here. “The flavor play combines chilled rice noodles tossed with a slightly more viscous version of the traditional nuoc cham,” he says. A cucumber-tomato salad introduces acidity, chopped greens add freshness and a scattering of peanuts brings in a welcome crunch.

About The Author

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Katie Ayoub is managing editor of Flavor & The Menu. She has been working in foodservice publishing for more than 16 years and on the Flavor team since 2006. She won a 2015 Folio award for her Flavor & The Menu article, Heritage Matters. In 2006, she won “Best Culinary Article” from the Cordon D’Or for an article on offal.