Flavor Trends, Strategies and Solutions for Menu Development

Flavor Trifecta: Kevin Atkinson Mustard + Harissa + Avocado

Kevin Atkinson is the executive chef of Loews Chicago Hotel

Kevin Atkinson is the executive chef of Loews Chicago Hotel, overseeing menus at both Streeterville Social, a summertime rooftop bar, and ETA Restaurant + Bar, serving eclectic tavern fare.

Recent menu items showcase intriguing flavor combinations. For example, at ETA, the Saison Steamed Mussels are paired with plum, garlic confit, grilled shishito peppers and toasted nori. And Streeterville Social features Crispy Calamari with fried lemon, pickled vegetables and grilled scallion mayonnaise.

His flavor trifecta? A trio of Dijon mustard, harissa and avocado.

“I like mustard because its bitterness and spice can pair with a lot of things—seafood, sausage, beef, pork, chicken, game, herbs,” says Atkinson. “It also can go to the sweet and/or sour side and can handle salty, nutty flavors, or it can be the spicy element in a dish.”

As a trifecta, he says, each ingredient brings something different to the plate. “Together, they create a harmoniously pleasing flavor profile that is layered, interesting and well balanced. Harissa carries heat and aromatics, while avocado adds fat, body and a cooling element.”

He suggests using the trifecta as a condiment for dry-aged chorizo, mussels or a po’ boy. “And the list goes on from there.”

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