Flavor Trends, Strategies and Solutions for Menu Development




By Patricia Fitzgerald
May 15, 2024

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chef name

Joshua Ingraham
Culinary + Wellness Director

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.

As Culinary + Wellness Director for Aramark, Chef Joshua Ingraham, CEC, PCII, CDM, looks at nutrition and health as an opportunity, rather than as constrictions on culinary creativity. “I love my role and look forward to expanding it as we move to evolve healthcare cuisine,” he notes. “The framework of nutrition is what it is. But we can create food that is healthy by surprise. We’re working with some emerging ingredients that are not yet available in retail and using these in our creations, maintaining familiar flavors but providing a nutritionally better-for-you profile. At the end of the day, being a healthcare chef is like being an astronaut: We only know what we’ve seen, and what we haven’t seen is yet to be discovered.”

For Ingraham, Asian cuisines carry unique potential for developing fresh, flavor-forward discoveries. This is reflected in his recipes for Kitchen Collaborative: Roasted Lemon Brussels Sprouts with Chili Crisp-Honey Glaze, Barbecue Hoisin Breaded Wings with Pickled Watermelon, and Sambal Shrimp Scampi. “I ended up getting a lot of ingredients that pushed me toward some of my favorite Asian dishes,” he notes, although his application of simple tweaks nudges traditional preparations in fresh directions and represents what he loves about his work. “The culinary profession has been demanding, but I love being able to influence the creation of food and community experiences around food. It’s a part of everything I am as a human.”

Roasted Lemon Brussels Sprouts with Chili Crisp-Honey Glaze

Photo: Carlos Garcia // Food Styling: Peg Blackley

Even a casual restaurant diner likely could attest to the trending popularity of appetizers and sides starring Brussels sprouts as they, well, sprout up on all manner of menus these days. Ingraham attributes this popularity to the rapturous taste experience of enjoying a truly great preparation. “They are not easy to get right,” he says. “When you have a great Brussels sprouts dish, you remember exactly where and when it was. I love them for what they are: super nutritious and really versatile in taking on a combination of cooking methods.”

For his Roasted Lemon Brussels Sprouts with Chili Crisp-Honey Glaze, Ingraham tosses the cruciferous vegetable with olive oil and finely minced garlic, then roasts them in the oven until they are brown and tender. The glaze, featuring honey, melted butter, fresh lemon juice and Lee Kum Kee® Chiu Chow Style Chili Crisp Oil, is poured over top of the Brussels sprouts, which are then cooked for another five minutes as the glaze bakes into the produce.

“The trend for heat keeps expanding, pushing people out of their comfort zone,” notes Ingraham. “That’s what makes the chile crunch so absurdly good. The texture unlocks this extra sensorial experience that is rather addicting. The glaze on the sprouts seals the deal to turn a rather mundane mini cabbage into a flavor explosion.”

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Barbecue Hoisin Breaded Wings with Pickled Watermelon

Photo: Carlos Garcia // Food Styling: Peg Blackley

When presented with Tyson® Breaded Chicken Wings to showcase in a flavor-forward application, it’s perfectly natural to consider ideating around a barbecue dish, but Ingraham opts to expand definitions a bit here. “Hoisin is technically a barbecue sauce, it’s just not an American barbecue sauce,” he notes. “For this dish, I wanted to combine the idea of barbecue with the flavors of East Asia.” The Barbecue Hoisin Breaded Wings with Pickled Watermelon is his contribution to today’s spicy, shareable trend.

Ingraham combines hoisin sauce, teriyaki sauce, garlic, fresh ginger and chili crisp, tossing the breaded wings in the mixture before placing them in the oven. In 10-minute intervals, he bastes the wings with reserved sauce until it produces a thick lacquer. “This basting technique is commonly found in American barbecue,” he explains. “It helps to seal in the flavor. And by developing a thick enough coating of sauce, it can caramelize and char when finished in the broiler. The high heat will make the sauce turn crispy.”

To balance the intense flavor of the wings, Ingraham pickles watermelon to produce a complementary acid that helps cleanse the palate between bites of the spicy meat. “Watermelon is incredibly refreshing, and it’s very simple to pickle given the amount of water and sugar already present in the fruit,” he notes. “It absorbs the brine and becomes a juicy counterpoint to those delicious, sticky wings.”

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Sambal Shrimp Scampi

Photo: Carlos Garcia // Food Styling: Peg Blackley

Ingraham finds himself attracted to the contradictions inherent in many signature dishes of Asian cuisines: “They are complex, but present so simply,” he notes. As an example, he points to miso soup, which may be unexciting visually, “but the dimensions of flavor within that broth are transcendent.”

Now, fuse that passion with Ingraham’s enthusiasm for his Kitchen Collaborative assignment: “I was very excited to have been paired with SupHerb Farms, as I’ve used their products before and loved them.” The result is the Sambal Shrimp Scampi, a dish with Southeast Asian roots but served with linguini and Parmesan for a cross-cultural delight.

The dish is simple. Ingraham sautés the shrimp in olive oil and butter for a few minutes. After deglazing the pan with wine, he adds more oil and butter, plus garlic and lemon zest, followed by SupHerb Farms® Sambal Culinary Paste for a spicy sauce to dress the shrimp. “These pastes are a huge time-saver for professional chefs,” says Ingraham. “Think about all of the individual ingredients we would have to bring in to make them from scratch.” The sambal, a combination of garlic and chile peppers, produces an intense heat with tang and salty notes. “I was shocked at just how fresh and inspiring the paste was. It didn’t need anything else to elevate the flavor of the dish.”

Ingraham expects that Asian cuisines will continue to enjoy growing popularity with American diners in the coming years. In fact, he predicts the development of an American-style curry in the not-too-distant future. “If you take curry in its original form and then add one of the SupHerb pastes to create a fusion curry, you would unlock something never tasted before!”

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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]