Flavor Trends, Strategies and Solutions for Menu Development

By Flavor & The Menu
March 3, 2020

Sheamus Feeley

Sheamus Feeley has led a storied culinary career at established brands, including a decade with Hillstone Restaurant Group, and a role as founding chef/partner of Farmstead Restaurant in St. Helena, Calif. Most recently, he was chief culinary and beverage officer at Punch Bowl Social, the Denver-based eatertainment brand known for its culinary innovation. At Punch Bowl, his menu includes intriguing flavor combinations, evident in dishes like the Cocoa-Dusted Carnitas Tacos and Sriracha Peanut Fries.

We asked Feeley to ponder on a trio of ingredients that makes his culinary heart sing. He shared a trifecta of powdered dashi, black truffle salt and cashews. “I crave savory, salty foods. Whether it’s chips and salsa, queso or just well-executed triple-cooked fries, like the ones they serve at Shilling Canning Company in Washington, D.C.,” he says. “Being a restaurateur and single father, I also have a pantry full of some of the most random odds and ends you can imagine. Dried shrimp and chocolate tahini anyone?”

From that pantry, Feeley found inspiration on a snowy night. He spotted cashews, powdered dashi and black truffle salt and thought they’d work well together. With that trio as the foundational flavor combination, he added soy sauce, black pepper, Worcestershire sauce and granulated garlic, and then slow roasted the seasoned nuts.

“I made them for the team at my favorite neighborhood bar on a night that everyone was snowed in,” he says. “I like how the smokiness from the dashi blends with the salinity from the black truffle salt, soy and Worcestershire. The dish offers a salty crunch that’s great with a beer or a glass of bubbles.”

He’s also used the trifecta in a dish of roasted firm tofu, cashews and broccoli, tossed in a warm dressing made with soy sauce, dashi, black truffle, garlic and vinegar.

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