Flavor Trends, Strategies and Solutions for Menu Development




By Rob Corliss
September 22, 2021

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If bread sets the tone for the meal, then flavored elements surely can carry that feeling throughout the entire meal. Pairing bread with a complement of flavor-packed spreads, butters, oils and dips elevates an already comforting guest experience.

Operators can implement this via signature bread service, snackable appetizers, trending sandwiches, sides and family-style groaning boards. All of these are primed for creating memorable flavor bundling, demonstrated in the in-market examples found on menus across the country and four areas detailed below.

“Menu Sightings”

Sourdough with harissa butter and giardiniera + Naan & Dips with tahini tofu, carrot “hummus”
Girl & The Goat, with locations in Los Angeles and Chicago

Sicilian-Style Bruschetta Boards: Fig jam, ricotta, pistachio crumble, balsamic drizzle
The Sicilian Butcher, based in Phoenix

Cast Iron Cornbread: Steen’s Syrup, smoked salted butter, strawberry-rhubarb preserves
Roots Southern Table, Farmers Branch, Texas


1 Super Spreads

Showcase spreads with rustic, distinctive meat-centric flavor to match hearty bread textures

Reuben Spread: Chopped corned beef + whipped cream cheese + sour cream + chopped Swiss cheese + chopped sauerkraut (spread on seeded sprouted rye bread)

Citrus Pork Spread: Chopped carnitas + blood orange marmalade + queso fresco crumbles (spread on toasted telera rolls)

2 Buttered Up

Elevate the comfort of bread/butter via pairing mainstay breads with flavored butters that incorporate a modern feel

Chutney Butter: Whipped cultured butter + Indian style tomato chutney + chopped mint (with warm naan)

Harvest Brown Butter: Whipped browned butter + grated white cheddar + minced roasted butternut squash (with warm pretzel bread knots)

3 Flavored Oils

Invigorate bread service with indulgent, highly visual aromatic oils for complementary swirling and dunking

Tapas Oil: Avocado oil + crispy charred chorizo crumbles + olive tapenade (with hand-torn ciabatta)

Ma-La Peanut Oil: Roasted peanut oil + small chopped salted peanuts + crushed Sichuan peppercorns + Aleppo pepper flakes (with bing – a griddled leavened scallion flatbread)

4 Dynamic Dips

Deliver the unexpected with lively, higher-end artisanal dip and bread pairings

Surf n’ Turf Dip: Puréed white beans/cauliflower + small chopped grilled rock shrimp + small chopped grilled flank steak (with brioche rolls)

Creamy Crunch Dip: Queso blanco + small chopped smoked bacon + chili crunch (with cornmeal breadsticks)


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.