Flavor Trends, Strategies and Solutions for Menu Development




By Rob Corliss
October 16, 2020

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Appetizers are a restaurant’s first tangible food impression and should emulate your hospitality and culinary ethos. These small bites/small plates offer operators an easy avenue to incorporate attention-grabbing flavors. Chefs are digging deep into their culinary toolbox and pulling progressive flavor combinations and techniques into the mainstream. Fermentation is one of those exciting areas of discovery play a larger role on modern appetizer menus. Operations are providing guests a variety of new culinary experiences by delivering compelling fermented creations.

What follows is a showcase of fermented/pickled inspiration meant to spark your menu development. These all address relevant trends and demonstrate how to make innovative menu items approachable.


“Try This”

  • Pub Bites: Hand-breaded baked potato wedges + pickled red onion mustard and hand-breaded fried chicken tenders + smoked apple sauce

Menu Sightings

  • Salt & Vinegar Fries served with kombucha ketchup and fry sauce
    Ferment Brewing Company, Hood River, Ore.

  • Louisiana Boudin Croquettes: Housemade boudin, horseradish rémoulade, fermented red pepper, pickled red onion
    Sovereign Remedies, Asheville, N.C.

  • Lechon Kawali: Whole pork belly, brined then deep fried, served with choice of dipping sauce – spicy soy, Mang Tomas sauce
    Estrellita, Atlanta

  • Mynamar Chutney: Simmered tomatoes, onions, garlic, Thai chiles, Burmese shrimp paste and fish sauce, served cold with English cucumbers
    Burma Love, San Francisco

  • Eggplant & Whey Dip: Roasted eggplant, crispy onions, cured whey yogurt, mint oil
    Sofreh, Brooklyn, N.Y.

  • Market Beans: Lavender pickled peaches and goat cheese
    Loring Place, New York


“Try This”

  • Chicken Katsu Sliders: Petite fried chicken cutlet + pickled daikon slaw + red miso barbecue sauce + milk bread bun

Menu Sightings

  • Kimchi Three: Yellow watermelon/ginger/gochugaru; kombucha cabbage/Asian pear/goji berries; bitter melon/perilla/crispy shallots
    Mission, Brooklyn, N.Y.

  • Garlic Bread: Pickled garlic butter and Sullivan Street Bakery bread
    Eating House, Miami

  • Sgagliozze: Fried polenta, whipped sheep cheese, agrodolce Fresno peppers
    Cattivella, Denver

  • Cumin Roasted Beets: Candied ancho pepitas, Greek yogurt, pickled shallot, sherry gastrique
    Nada, based in Indianapolis, Indiana

  • Heirloom Pumpkin: Roasted pumpkin with toasted peanut salsa macha, pickled cranberries, “mimolette” cheese and green sorrel
    Rolf & Daughters, Nashville

  • Oyster Mushroom Montadito: Roasted oyster mushrooms with whipped goat rodeo chèvre cheese and tempranillo reduction on sourdough toast
    Morcilla, Pittsburgh, Penn.


Vietnamese Pork Sausage SkewersSmithfield Culinary

The assertive tones of fermentation come through nicely in these Vietnamese Chargrilled Pork Sausage Skewers, thanks to both a subtle add of fish sauce in the smoked meat’s seasoning and the accompanying nuoc mam dipping sauce.




About The Author

Rob Corliss

Rob Corliss is a three-time James Beard House guest chef with more than 30 years of experience that includes running world-class hotels, launching new concepts, working in top marketing agencies and owning the culinary consultancy ATE (All Things Epicurean) since 2009. Based in Nixa, Mo., ATE has an energizing passion focused on flavor innovation and is dedicated to connecting people to their food, environment and wellness. Rob is also a regular contributor to Flavor & The Menu.