Flavor Trends, Strategies and Solutions for Menu Development




By Flavor & The Menu
July 11, 2020

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Offering proven flavor combinations in a bowl format gives consumers a fresh spin on a familiar dish. Of course, with portability now a key factor in menu development, bowls serve up a win there, too, providing a platform for strategically layered components that travel well. Looking to trending profiles or American classics, like Korean fried chicken or shrimp and grits, can provide opportunity for built-in crave factor and signature differentiation. The translation to a bowl build requires the modern touches that the category is known for—flavor detail, textural play and originality.

“Retooling an old-school prep into a bowl format is a fun and creative way to get even more buy-in with the bowl concept,” says John Franke, president at Franke Culinary Consulting, a Dallas-based consultancy focusing on brand development and innovation. He points to the Caesar salad as example, suggesting a clever transition to a bowl through a build of cauliflower “rice,” Brussels sprouts leaves, crispy chickpeas as the “croutons,” Parmesan crisps and a Caesar vinaigrette. “Or take something like steak Oscar and change it up with ancient grains, grilled asparagus, pickled onions, marinated crab, wood-grilled filet, kale, grated egg yolk and a tarragon vinaigrette to finish. This gives a modern approach to something super old-school,” says Franke.

Here are five bowl builds inspired by dishes that are familiar, trend-forward, or perhaps a bit of both. Each spins the classic components of the dish into a modern bowl build with creative flavor play.

1. Carne Asada Bowl

  • Tomato rice
  • Seared flank steak
  • Avocado chunks
  • Lime-cilantro crema
  • Broken tortilla chips

2. Chilaquiles Bowl

  • Fried tortilla chips braised in red tomatillo sauce
  • Smoked sausage or chorizo
  • Queso fresco
  • Soft scrambled eggs
  • Sour cream
  • Pickled jalapeño rounds

3. Korean Fried Chicken Bowl

  • Crispy white rice
  • Korean fried chicken nuggets
  • Soy-braised mushrooms
  • Kimchi
  • Cucumber salad
  • Korean barbecue sauce
  • Chile threads

4. Shrimp & Grits Bowl

  • Smoked grits
  • Crispy pork belly
  • Sautéed Gulf shrimp
  • Gouda cheese
  • Pickled okra

5. Cobb Salad Bowl

  • Swipe of tomato jam
  • Romaine and iceberg blend
  • Citrus-marinated and grilled chicken strips
  • Peppered bacon
  • Avocado chunks
  • Pickled mustard seeds
  • Blue cheese crumbles
  • Apple-cider vinaigrette


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