Flavor Trends, Strategies and Solutions for Menu Development




By Flavor & The Menu
March 1, 2023

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If you can’t score tickets to the big game, the next best thing is a watch party at your favorite bar or restaurant in the company of good friends and other loyal fans. The atmosphere is electric with communal responses to the highs and lows of the team’s performance, and patrons reliably look to further boost the endorphin rush with craveable and shareable apps and snacks. The big soccer and football games have come and gone, but the spring calendar is packed with the marquee events of several other sports, among them: college basketball tournaments, hockey’s quest for a champion, the crack of bats on baseball’s opening day and professional basketball’s extensive playoff race.

Are you ready to seize the advantages these events offer to foodservice operations? Your menu can be the difference-maker that prompts a group to choose your site over another on game day. The top strategy in your playbook should be centered on shareable dishes that dial up the crave factor, and cheese is one ingredient that can be relied upon to successfully carry the ball.

Infuse a little surprise into familiar dishes by playing with on-trend flavor profiles and color like this Chipotle Queso.

According to Datassential’s 2021 Appetizer Report, of the top 12 appetizers menued at restaurants, only three—queso, fries and garlic bread—have enjoyed increased menu penetration in the last four years, with queso sitting at the top, rising 4%. While a star player all on its own, queso’s versatility provides operators with numerous opportunities to double up on success by pairing it with other wildly popular favorites, like fries, nachos and wings. These dishes deliver the top qualities that consumers value most highly in appetizers, including ease of “eatability” (i.e. finger food), ease of sharing and familiar comfort. Queso also gives chefs a tool to use in leaning into another attribute diners seek in apps: unique flavors.

Chef Billy Kalil, Commercial Foodservice Product Specialist, Land O’Lakes Culinary Center, understands this attraction of opposites between trend-forward flavors and ubiquitous comfort: “I think, above all else, craveable shareables have to feel exciting, while also being non-threatening.” This is especially true as customers feel the pinch of tighter budgets, he notes. “Your dishes need to surprise and delight—whether with spicy heat, smokiness or crispiness—for diners to be willing to spend the money.”

Add intrigue by taking advantage of the global flavor pantry, mixing in unexpected spice and seasoning blends.

Flavor-forward, cheese-centric menu homeruns that will both support the thrill of victory and soothe the agony of defeat can be found in easy riffs on app favorites Land O Lakes® Extra Melt® Cheese Sauce:

For these menu inspirations and many more, chefs can turn to Land O Lakes® Queso Bravo® Cheese Dips and Extra Melt® Cheese products from the company’s Performance Dairy portfolio. Available in yellow and white varieties, these versatile products provide prep-and-go benefits, while also acting as a delicious base for signature seasonings and inclusions.

“I like adding roasted chiles that bring in heat, along with a good pepper flavor. Poblanos are one of my favorites,” says Kalil of his queso go-tos. “I also like the briny flavor of pickled ingredients in cheese sauce. Think pickled peppers, olives and onions. They bring a brightness that really set off the cheese. Also, a little sweetness alongside spiciness is delicious.”

You can’t control the outcome of the big game, but you can ensure your customers a winning dining experience that makes them as loyal to your operation as they are to their team.

Learn more at www.landolakesfoodservice.com/brands/extra-melt




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