Flavor Trends, Strategies and Solutions for Menu Development

By Flavor & The Menu
January 9, 2020

From its carrier, such as rice, beans, quinoa,
pasta or potatoes, to its protein source, bowls encompass the very definition of unlimited creativity. Produce toppings are endless, from various roasted vegetables to pickled vegetables, or fresh vegetables on their own. Sauces can even take precedent, and are not limited to any one cuisine.

As consumers recognize “food as medicine,” functional foods will continue to see more demand in dining. Bowls already benefit from the health halo of salads; this gives operators a head start with consumers. Also, with consumer demand for more transparency, well-built bowls invite guests to see all the components clearly.

A curated bowl can allow the operator to build just the right balance of tastes, textures and temperatures for a more controllable flavor experience.

Just about any dish on any menu can be recreated into a bowl. This allows chefs a great way to use product that is cut smaller, keeps protein portions lower, therefore plate costs lower, and still allows for real creativity. Take grilled shrimp, for example. This can be a challenging protein to showcase center-of-the-plate, since a handful of shrimp never look like a value to the guest. But folded into a bowl of grains with pickled vegetables, crumbled cheese, greens and a strong vinaigrette—the value proposition goes up.

Retooling an old-school prep into a bowl format is a fun and creative way to get even more buy-in with the bowl concept. It can be something as simple as a Caesar salad transformed by using cauliflower rice, Brussels sprouts leaves, crispy chickpeas as the “croutons,” Parmesan crisps and a Caesar vinaigrette. Or take something like steak Oscar and change it up with ancient grains, grilled asparagus, pickled onions, marinated crab, wood-grilled filet, kale, grated egg yolk and a tarragon vinaigrette to finish. This gives a modern approach to something super old-school.

While convenience and customization may have been the original drivers behind the bowls movement, there’s a huge opportunity to address modern health and wellness goals through bowls. Whether grains are in or out, meat is amped-up or avoided, bowls can deliver what all of the diet tribes desire—ideal nutrition from whole, flavorful foods.

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