Flavor Trends, Strategies and Solutions for Menu Development




By Flavor & The Menu
January 17, 2021

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Now is not the time to ease up on innovation or slow down on building your product pipeline. The best-positioned brands will have a robust pantry of products that can flex up and down to meet evolving consumer demand.

Speed scratch will be a bigger opportunity than ever before. Following the philosophy of a mother sauce in the kitchen, develop bases in the bar that can be leveraged for a variety of executions. For example, a shrub base can be used to create both flavorful nonalcoholic and cocktail options. You can build a complex flavor with less friction at the point of service.

If you’re not in the ghost/virtual business, it’s time. Create a new brand and have fun with it. Also, optimize your online menu to highlight upselling opportunities, as it’s all about the add-ons and suggestions. Lastly, add two to three signature beverages to your menu. There are great products you can speed-scratch into something deliciously unique. This last year showed us all how important it is to offer check builders and unique items for to-go menus.

Really listen to consumers, and get ready for them to start returning to restaurants in 2021. They miss the creative dishes, they miss the ambience and they miss the hospitality. There was a lot of goodwill built up toward the industry in the last year; now let’s keep that momentum going and welcome guests back by showing them everything this industry is capable of.

What can restaurants do to supplant the trend of home-meal subscription services? Consider a subscription service where customers can order one or two boxed meals during the week. All items can be pre-portioned, parcooked and baked so that the completion of the meal is minimal, and the delivery of flavors is optimal.

The theme for restaurants in 2020 was simplification and survival, quite the opposite is coming ahead. Consumers have been locked in their houses for far too long. When they are safely allowed to enjoy a meal dining out, be prepared. A gluttonous and fiscally irresponsible reply to the pandemic is bubbling below the surface. A revolution is on its way. Get ready to thrive.

Demonstrating emerging opportunities in foodservice, Ghostline in Washington, D.C., is a takeout- and delivery-focused collective of food and beverage innovators.Credit: Rey Lopez

Demonstrating emerging opportunities in foodservice, Ghostline in Washington, D.C., is a takeout- and delivery-focused collective of food and beverage innovators.

If 2020 has taught us anything, it is that comfort will be required to restore calm over the next several years—calm in one’s psyche, lifestyle and purchasing intent. This shouldn’t be a reason to stifle innovation or flavor exploration, but to inform chefs and product developers of the guardrails of the moment. Innovation can be transformative within the confines of comfort.

Operators need to get creative with their beverage service. Innovation is key, as consumers really want the experience to be memorable. But simplicity is also key as employees get back to work. Think simple executions that are quick—pre-batching, cocktails on tap, anything pull and go!

Stay visible. As brands expand into ghost kitchens, competing in an amorphous online delivery world,
they will need to keep their brand visible and attractive from curbside to screen. No detail is too small, from packaging to storytelling. Once the message arrives at their doorstop, it will be flavor that determines if brands will be invited back in.

This mantra has always resonated: ‘Change is inevitable, but growth is optional.’ Change is a drastic understatement because of the pandemic. However, we can still choose our mindset, how we approach our business/career/family and our efforts to grow and evolve.


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