Flavor Trends, Strategies and Solutions for Menu Development




By Patricia Fitzgerald
March 20, 2024

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Anthony Dee

Anthony Dee
Corporate Executive Concept Chef
Mitchell’s Steakhouses & Fish Markets/Muer Restaurants
Landry’s Inc.

Kitchen Collaborative is a recipe-development initiative formed by Summit F&B and Flavor & The Menu. To fuel flavor innovation, a group of talented chefs partnered with sponsor brands and commodity boards to create recipes that showcase the passion and potential of our industry.

Anthony Dee is an unabashed fan of projects like Kitchen Collaborative. The corporate executive concept chef at Landry’s Inc. gets a charge from the ingenuity that results when working within the constrictions of the recipe ideation challenge. “I have really been inspired by projects like this, working with world-class companies and creating new items with some incredible products,” he says. “It opens up my mind to push myself and continually strive for new ideas.”

As with many of his peers, the drive to create indelible culinary memories is at the heart of all Dee’s efforts. He cites two standout experiences that remain top of mind: “I have been extremely blessed to dine in some once-in-a-lifetime places, including The French Laundry, which had a level of hospitality that was second to none, and Alinea, for the last service of a departing executive chef. It was a culinary experience that’s hard to put into words—and I’m not sure it can ever be matched.”

He might not be seeking to match those particular culinary heights with his Kitchen Collaborative contributions, but Dee still infuses a significant “wow” factor into each one: Wagyu Beef & BelGioioso® Aperitivo Italico Cheeseburger, Soy-Mushroom Noodle Bowl and Sourdough Blueberry Bread Pudding.

Wagyu Beef & BelGioioso® Aperitivo Italico Cheeseburger

Photo: Carlos Garcia // Food Styling: Peg Blackley

There are few menu staples that are as successful in spanning the range from basic to bodacious as the cheeseburger, and with his Wagyu Beef & BelGioioso® Aperitivo Italico Cheeseburger, Dee applies the power of high-impact ingredients to their most dazzlingly decadent potential. The build—an impressive structure, indeed—features a Wagyu beef burger patty, clarified butter, Aperitivo Italico™ cheese from BelGioioso®, pork belly, romaine, a fried egg, roasted garlic aïoli and Bloody Mary sauce on a potato bun.

“When I tried the cheese, I immediately wanted something super rich and bold that would complement it and create a memorable dish,” explains Dee. “Simply put, this is meant to be a ‘wow’ experience with each bite.”

Dee had some familiarity with BelGioioso® cheeses, although this variety was new to him. “I’ve always been impressed with their quality. The overall flavor was great, and it worked incredibly well for this application.” Aged for 90 days, its rind hand-washed in salt and water, the Italico™ boasts a distinctive, earthy flavor and tender texture.

As a chef and as a diner, Dee reflects on the must-have element that leads to a successful burger. “It’s all about the balance,” he says. “The bun size and patty size have to match. The other flavors also need to be in the right proportions so that you taste every component in one bite. If you get some of one item and then some of another item, the balance is off.”

Get the recipe

Soy-Mushroom Noodle Bowl

Photo: Carlos Garcia // Food Styling: Peg Blackley

Chefs regularly speak of the efforts required to achieve an appropriate flavor balance in various dishes. But Dee took on a challenge of Herculean proportions in combining a whopping seven different flavorful liquids (comprising four sauces, vinegar, wine and oil) to achieve equilibrium in the sauce base for this Soy-Mushroom Noodle Bowl. Dee went all in on Kikkoman® products, selecting its branded Soy Sauce, Teriyaki Marinade & Sauce, Thai Style Chili Sauce, Rice Vinegar, Kotteri Mirin and Sesame Oil, plus a sambal-chile garlic sauce. “They all have unique flavors that could bring something different to the dish,” credits Dee. “Kikkoman has so many incredible products; not many companies have the ability to provide such a diverse line that can be intermixed.”

“In a blender, combine all the ingredients and purée until smooth. Pour into a container, seal and refrigerate,” Dee says. Although the recipe was intentionally built for speed, the sauce base directions belie the complicated development process. When he started, Dee had no intention of combining them into a purée. “Using just one led to a really dominant flavor profile that needed balance. For example, it can be very easy to overwhelm dishes using soy and chile-based products—to the point that you lose sight of your original goal,” he says. While it took several attempts to perfect the mix, the experimentation was what Dee enjoyed most. “The sauce variety helped in the long run.”

Dee admits to applying a few personal preferences: “Sesame oil is a favorite ingredient of mine, and it lies really well in this dish to round out the mushrooms,” he says. Similarly, “I like shiitake and oyster mushrooms because of their mild flavors and ability to maintain texture, but I encourage chefs to add any varieties they prefer, in addition to different vegetables and proteins. This dish is very flexible.” He opted for zucchini, green peas and scallions to bring color and more texture. “Peas are good, because they require no additional cooking—they can be added at the end and if frozen, and they heat up extremely quickly. Zucchini adds freshness, and the scallions bring a needed sharp, bright push. None of these take away from the mushrooms.”

To ensure that the speed of preparation doesn’t sacrifice flavor, Dee advises chefs to adopt a mise en place approach. “Have everything in place before you start. The dish comes together very quickly, and if you walk away from the pan, the sauce can over-reduce in an instant,” he warns. “The goal is a bold, flavorful dish with the sauce evenly coating every component.”

Get the recipe

Sourdough Blueberry Bread Pudding

Photo: Carlos Garcia // Food Styling: Peg Blackley

There’s a fine line between a classic dish and one perceived as old-fashioned by modern diners, and bread pudding is a dessert that walks that line, acknowledges Dee. “I agree with that assessment 100 percent,” he says. “That’s when you have to understand who it is that you’re serving.” A conventional recipe that exudes nostalgia might be the perfect fit, but serving up unexpected ingredient swaps may be the best way to surprise and delight a wider range of guests, creating a satisfying taste experience destined to live on in memory. The Sourdough Blueberry Bread Pudding “is a dish I feel can accomplish that,” Dee affirms.

Success here starts with the foundation of the iconic dish: the bread, in this case, La Brea Bakery® Sourdough Batard. This artisan bread is a large baguette that combines a thick, golden crust with a moist interior full of subtle sour flavor. “La Brea Sourdough has been a go-to product in my pantry for years,” says Dee, who characterizes its flavor and performance as “incredible.”

He cubes the bread and coats it with butter before toasting the pieces in the oven. The toasted cubes are combined with brown butter, along with brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and allspice. An egg custard, which can be prepared up to two days in advance, is folded into the bread mixture, along with a surprise ingredient: blueberries.

Blueberry pancakes that Dee made for his niece and nephew shortly before receiving the sourdough served as the proverbial bolt from the…er, blue. “When the bread arrived, I smelled and tasted it, and it hit me to create a dish that would evoke the nostalgia of blueberry pancakes,” he explains. Multiple sentimental touchpoints lead to a thoroughly modern—and memorable—result.

Get the recipe


Project Management: Summit F&B
Photography: Carlos Garcia // Food Styling: Peg Blackley


About The Author

Patricia Fitzgerald

Patricia Fitzgerald is Contributing Editor of Flavor & The Menu, and a writer and content editor for a wide range of clients and media outlets. With more than 25 years at the helm of School Nutrition magazine, she has made the K-12 foodservice segment a particular niche, but her experience also includes work in many other industries and professions, including telecommunications, packaging, disability advocacy, waste management, community associations, small business retailers and more. [email protected]