Flavor Trends, Strategies and Solutions for Menu Development

By Mike Kostyo


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Tanner Agar, CEO and Creative Director, Rye, Dallas

“Pyrolysis is combustion in the absence of oxygen and works similarly to the process in which black garlic is created. Pyrolyzed bananas, elderflower liqueur and scallops have been our favorites so far and have opened up interesting opportunities for us. The flavors are concentrated but also changed in a fermented sort of way. You’re getting sugars to convert into something new to yield a different result.”

To pyrolyze ingredients, Agar modified a dehydrator into which he places the ingredient in a sealed container. He then runs the machine at 160 degrees F for two weeks, making sure to follow food safety standards. Elderflower liqueur becomes a deep brown color instead of its normal soft yellow. The flavor moves from bright and light to more concentrated and deeper. Similarly, a pyrolyzed banana, he says, boasts the richness of an overripe banana but with the freshness of a banana at its peak.

“We have been experimenting with pyrolysis to modify ingredients and then explore those new flavors that result. One of our best discoveries came through experimenting with U-10 scallops. We washed them, put them in the machine and let it go. When the process was complete, the scallops came out looking like black rocks. Next, we shave them and use them like a salt, essentially making a scallop ‘bottarga.’ Currently, we’re using it to season scallops, intensifying the flavor nicely. We’re using pyrolysis a lot at the restaurant. It helps us get more intense flavors. If flavor is my god, I want the purest, most concentrated version I can have.”


About The Author

Katie Ayoub

Katie Ayoub serves as managing editor of Flavor & The Menu and content strategist for the Flavor Experience, an annual conference geared toward chain operators. She is president of Katie Ayoub & Associates, serving up menu trends expertise, content creation and food & beverage consultancy. Based in Chicago, Katie has been working in foodservice publishing for more than 20 years and part of the Flavor team since 2006. [email protected]