Flavor Trends, Strategies and Solutions for Menu Development

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Flavor-First Approach When we strip every conversation away from our food experiences, it all comes down to Flavor.

PHOTO CREDIT: Amanda M. Westbrooks

Food is an influential part of our daily decision-making, as we have a vested emotional connection to our food choices. Food has become a reflection of who we are, how we feel and what we crave. It holds both an intangible and tangible currency.

Year after year, fads and trends in food are influenced by multiple factors; however, Flavor remains the constant “red thread” that connects the consumer experience. When we strip every conversation away from our food experiences, it all comes down to Flavor.

I have always believed that menu success comes from crafting an ingredient-driven, Flavor-First approach to menu development. Flavor is a differentiator, a connector, and Flavor is inherently experiential. A focused flavor development strategy, overlaid with targeted consumer and industry insights, should be part of a yearly business strategy. It is a 360° integration of the story of flavor throughout the menu development, operational, sales/marketing and PR teams.

The ancillary beauty of a Flavor-First approach is it forces any operation to perpetually evolve as consumer palates become more discerning and our lifestyles more connected.

When you take a holistic approach, true Flavor evokes all the senses.

  • The story behind our food sources = Flavor
  • The passionate development of recipes = Flavor
  • The presentation of a meal = Flavor
  • The aroma of a meal = Flavor
  • The textures of a meal = Flavor
  • The sounds of a meal = Flavor
  • The taste of a meal = Flavor
  • The genuine hospitality of the experience = Flavor
  • Guests sharing (verbally or digitally) their experience = Flavor

As passionate chefs, Flavor is part of our culinary DNA. It is our communication tool to the world and a direct expression of who we are evolving to be. If you live the motto “You are only as good as your last meal,” then you truly appreciate the theory of Flavor.

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About The Author


ROB CORLISS is a three-time James Beard House guest chef with more than 20 years of experience that includes running world-class hotels, launching new concepts, working in top marketing agencies and, currently, owning a consulting company, ATE (All Things Epicurean), focused on flavor, menu and restaurant innovation. Based in Nixa, Mo., he has an energizing passion for food and is dedicated to connecting people to their food, environment and wellness.