Flavor Trends, Strategies and Solutions for Menu Development

By Patricia Fitzgerald
March 5, 2024

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chef name

Richard Garcia
Senior Vice President, Food & Beverage
Divisional Vice President Hotel Operations Caribbean & Latin America
Remington Hospitality

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.

Richard Garcia’s international travel schedule has been “brutal” of late, with business trips from his home in Massachusetts to St. Thomas, Dominican Republic, Belize, Costa Rica and Colombia, along with Miami, the new base for Remington Hospitality’s Caribbean & Latin America Hotel Operations, which he heads up, in addition to serving as the hotel management giant’s Senior Vice President of Food & Beverage.

Recently recognized by Hotel Management magazine with a Forty Over 40 award, Garcia specializes in the development of innovative concepts, lending his passion and expertise to Kitchen Collaborative with three recipes that emphasize bold flavors from the global pantry. Read on to discover easy-to-prepare culinary creations that invite diner exploration: African-Spiced Ricotta-Stuffed Acorn Squash, Peruvian-Style Chicken Tender Causa and Mango-Chile-Lime Yogurt Bowl.

African-Spiced Ricotta-Stuffed Acorn Squash

Photo: Carlos Garcia // Food Styling: Peg Blackley

Garcia embraced a personal challenge to create “a unique and diverse culinary experience” with California cheeses at the center, choosing to blend them with bold African flavors to produce a singular dish that would entice diners to experiment. “Exploring diverse flavors is crucial, and North and West Africa are two regions that offer exciting possibilities,” he notes. Garcia’s African-Spiced Ricotta-Stuffed Acorn Squash demonstrates the breadth of opportunity at hand.

The chef uses a blend of garlic, cumin, coriander, cinnamon and paprika to add an exotic African flavor to the Real California ricotta cheese. The addition of Parmesan to the ricotta brings “contrasting textures and flavors, enhancing the overall richness of the dish,” Garcia notes. The spicy, creamy cheese mixture fills tender baked acorn squash halves, which then get one more turn in the oven, until the ricotta is heated through and slightly golden on top.

“The spiced ricotta pairs beautifully with the sweet, nutty taste of the acorn squash,” says Garcia. Offered as a hot side dish or a vegetarian entrée, the dish “is sure to impress the taste buds of your dinner guests.”

Get the recipe

Peruvian-Style Chicken Tender Causa

Photo: Carlos Garcia // Food Styling: Peg Blackley

Garcia cites a combination of personal experiences and professional explorations—including travel to Peru—as the inspiration for this Peruvian-Style Chicken Tender Causa. Spotlighting Tyson® Breaded Chicken Tenders, the dish represents his intent to “share a different perspective,” Garcia notes. “Causa is a traditional Peruvian dish made from mashed potatoes, and you can create a delicious variation using chicken tenders.”

Plus, he says, “Elevating breaded chicken tenders in this dish showcases the creativity that can be found in SKU optimization, proving that versatile ingredients can go beyond their traditional use and flavor profiles.” He also cites the value such speed-scratch products contribute to kitchen efficiency. “They offer convenience without compromising quality. This recipe incorporates South American flavors and techniques while keeping the process simple and accessible,” Garcia notes. Perhaps best of all, the trust diners place in a familiar ingredient like breaded chicken tenders gives them greater confidence in exploring cuisines out of their comfort zone.

To create the foundation of the dish, Garcia boils and mashes large yellow potatoes before mixing in aji amarillo paste, lime juice, mayonnaise and salt and pepper to taste. Rough-chopped breaded chicken tenders are sandwiched between layers of the potatoes. Avocado slices and cilantro leaves provide a flavorful garnish. “The final dish’s flavor and textural build are a harmonious blend,” says Garcia. “The dish carries a balanced level of heat, with the tenders providing a satisfying crunch.”

Get the recipe

Mango-Chile-Lime Yogurt Bowl

Photo: Carlos Garcia // Food Styling: Peg Blackley

Presented with Chobani Greek Yogurt, Garcia opted for a straightforward approach with this Mango-Chile-Lime Yogurt Bowl. Yogurt bowls appeal to both diners and chefs “by highlighting yogurt as a versatile and nutritious base for various flavor combinations,” he notes. While they are particularly well-suited for customizable make-your-own stations, yogurt bowls also allow chefs to tap into current and emerging flavor trends.

In this recipe, Garcia combines chile, lime and mango to leverage the popularity of the sweet and spicy (aka “swicy”) flavor trend that is showing up across a wide range of menu applications. He mixes nonfat plain Chobani Greek Yogurt with lime zest and juice before layering it with diced mango that has been spiked with a sprinkle of chile powder. Granola and toasted coconut flakes top the dish, which is garnished with fresh cilantro.

“The coconut flakes add a tropical texture, while the cilantro serves as a unique garnish to bring freshness and complexity,” Garcia explains. “The overall flavor and texture characteristics of the dish creates a well-balanced blend of sweetness, spiciness and creaminess.”

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]