Flavor Trends, Strategies and Solutions for Menu Development

By Rob Corliss
April 4, 2023

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Bar snacks make a crucial impression, serving up sociable fun to all hours of dining, delivering signature flavor experiences and working in concert with cold beverages. A look across the modern foodservice landscape reveals how chefs are packing a fiery punch, pairing it with comforting warm intensity, across a range of trend-forward bar snacks.

Here are four strategic approaches that harness the power of heat, transforming bar snacks into signature menu must-haves.


Classic snacks redefined with distinctive heat and spice never go out of style.

  • Candied Kettle Corn: Brisket burnt ends, togarashi, sea salt — Loro, Houston
  • Pork & Collard Spring Rolls, served with blackberry-habanero barbecue sauce — Local Cue, Greenville, S.C.
  • Not Your Mom’s Popcorn: Fresh popped kernels with either garlic and Parmesan, hot and spicy or lemon cayenne — Legends, Long Beach, Calif.
  • Flaming Elote Fries: Cotija cheese, sautéed corn kernels, Parm/garlic powder, lime crema, Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, over french fries — Bar Code Burgers, Las Vegas


Plant-centric snacks infused with heat-centric modern touches appeal to younger consumers.

  • Tempura Kimchi, served with chipotle aïoli dipping sauce — Shaku Bar, Portland, Ore.
  • Nashville Hot Cauliflower: Chicken-fried cauliflower, hot honey sauce, pickle dip — Alley Twenty Six, Durham, N.C.
  • Za ‘atar Roasted Squash: Labneh, pomegranate, jalapeño-herb oil — Plum, Portland, Ore.
  • Kabocha Pumpkin Tempura with vadouvan curry, Serrano ponzu, yuzu aïoli — Hazie’s, San Francisco


Satiating snacks enriched by bold global heat stylings offer new flavor adventure.

  • Whipped Feta: Hatch chile harissa, house everything spice, grilled bread — Lulu’s Wine Garden, Washington, D.C.
  • Iberico Ham Croquettes with harissa aïoli — Fire At Will, Scottsdale, Ariz.
  • Jalapeño-Bacon Wrapped Dates: Blue cheese-stuffed, Calabrian chile relish, whole grain mostarda — Elm City Social, New Haven, Conn.
  • Arancini with avocado crema, togarashi, dashi — Scotch Lodge, Portland, Ore.


Seafood and meat snacks enveloped with substantial heat offer premium, memorable experiences.

  • Jumbo Tiger Shrimp: Three jumbo lemon-herb poached shrimp, wasabi cho-gochujang — Karne Korean Steakhouse, Houston
  • Korean Sticky Pork Ribs with a sticky glaze, Thai chiles, Serrano peppers, sesame, toasted coconut shavings — Bostonia Public House, Boston
  • Sichuan Hot Chicken on Taiwanese Buns with mala spice, scallion salad, “tiger” aïoli — Pig and Tiger, Boulder, Colo.



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.