Flavor Trends, Strategies and Solutions for Menu Development

By Mike Kostyo


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Steven J. Oakley, Chef/Owner, Oakleys Bistro, Indianapolis

“A Chilean friend introduced me to a spice blend called merquen, which is smoky, slightly fruity and mildly spicy. It has a lot of flavor, but it’s not stinky or too floral, like some spice blends. You can use merquen to season meat, fish and vegetables, or add it to vinaigrettes and marinades.”
Merquen typically sees a combination of dried and smoked aji cacho de cabra (a chile pepper also known as goat’s horn red pepper), salt and ground coriander. In Chile, the spice blend is often used to season meat in traditional sandwiches, including the chacarero, with thinly sliced churrasco-style steak or lomito-style pork on a round roll with tomatoes and green bean salad.


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]