Flavor Trends, Strategies and Solutions for Menu Development

Banking on Banh Mi McAlister’s Deli | based in Ridgeland, Mo.

PHOTO CREDIT: Flavor & The Menu Staff

When McAlister’s planned its 2016 menu, the deli concept wanted to give guests a sandwich that delivered on their promise to provide a variety of American regional flavors to satisfy any exploratory palate. “We developed our West Coast Banh Mi with that in mind—a sandwich that offers complex, unique and craveable ingredients, packed with fresh and fiery flavors reminiscent of the cultures and flavor preferences prevalent on the West Coast, but made the McAlister’s way,” says William Eudy, Corporate Executive Chef. “A traditional banh mi is a fairly simple sandwich, but it does have a build that requires necessary prep and planning ahead. It also requires the proper layering of flavors. If the pork is too spicy it overpowers everything; the same holds true with the pickled vegetables and Sriracha mayo.” Keeping this in mind and knowing that the dish would be rolled out to all 365 of McAlister’s restaurants in 27 states this year, the emphasis was on building a well-balanced sandwich with just the right combination of flavors and textures. “We got to work developing the sandwich using a combination of tender pulled pork, jalapeños, pickled vegetables, fresh sprigs of cilantro and Sriracha mayo. It was so far out of the flavor box for McAlister’s Deli that we couldn’t predict how it would be received.” Turns out, guests were ready for it, giving overwhelmingly positive feedback. “We heard comments like ‘best sandwich I have ever had’ and ‘wow, what is that flavor?’’” Paired with a Mango Green Tea, the sandwich offers McAlister’s guests a new, fresh and craveable meal experience.

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