Flavor Trends, Strategies and Solutions for Menu Development

Maximizing French Toast Deconstructing & modernizing a breakfast mainstay

The Dulce de Leche French Toast at Chica in Las Vegas is topped with macerated fresh berries, dulce de leche drizzle and fresh whipped cream.

Breakfast and brunch continue to capture our attention and provide revenue opportunities. Operators need menu items that deliver solid margins and drive traffic. Guests expect craveworthy eats that entice their palates and fill their Instagram feeds.

French toast, a long-time breakfast staple, can maximize both of those menu desires. To further enhance this, implement a menu/culinary strategy where French toast flavors encompass familiar with an edge. Keep in mind that what is classic to one demographic can be an entirely new and modern experience to another. This provides operators a fluid platform for creative flavor differentiation and a wide range of development from enhanced classics to whimsical to premium.

This all benefits from the consumer affinity for breakfast features, updated with modern touches. With that in mind, let’s take a deconstructed view of crafting signature French toast your guests can’t get anywhere else.



Whether griddled, baked or fried, there are no limits on bread varieties, shapes, thickness.


  • Challah
  • Brioche
  • Texas toast


  • Pound cake
  • Banana bread, zucchini bread, gingerbread
  • Babka
  • Croissant
  • Whole grain
  • Monkey bread
  • Cinnamon rolls, sticky buns
  • Wild rice bread

Fillings can heighten and complement the overall flavor while amplifying indulgence.

  • Flavored custard, whipped cream style cheeses
  • Nut compotes, nut butters
  • Dried fruit relish
  • Savory: Seasoned ground meat and/or vegetable blends

Whether for dipping or soaking the bread overnight, batters are an opportunity for creativity, adding flavor dimension and structure.

  • Classic (for a beautiful custardy coating): whole milk or heavy cream, eggs plus a touch of pure vanilla extract, cinnamon and/or nutmeg
  • Savory: buttermilk, eggs, chopped fresh herbs, sea salt, cracked pepper
  • Tres leches: evaporated milk, Thai coconut milk, heavy cream, eggs and pure vanilla extract, honey, cinnamon
  • Pancake: use a thinner version of pancake batter to dip your French toast, doubling down on texture and combining two breakfast classics
  • Textural: Retro cereal coatings, healthful cereal/granola coatings, puffed grains, seeds

Sweet, savory, indulgent, healthful, fun/whimsical and premium are all elements in play.

  • Fresh or macerated fruit
  • Whipped flavored mascarpone or savory cheese
  • Nostalgic dessert interpretations: Bananas Foster, cheesecake, tiramisu, pies/crumbles, churros
  • Housemade relishes and compotes

Classic and/or modern finishes pull the build together.

  • Pure maple syrup, fruit-infused syrup
  • Housemade preserves (using chia seeds as a thickener and protein boost)
  • Warm hot honey
  • Whipped honey butter
  • Crème anglaise
  • Spiced chocolate
  • Sweet Potato Caramel

Menu Sightings

Eye-catching French toast features from around the country:

OMG! French Toast: Brioche stuffed with mascarpone then griddled and topped with vanilla crème, salted caramel, fresh strawberries and toasted coconut
Snooze an AM Eatery, multiple locations

Tonga Toast: Banana-stuffed French toast (XL cube) rolled in cinnamon sugar and served with strawberry compote
Kona Café, Polynesian Village Resort, Walt Disney World Resort, Orlando, Fla.

Crème Brûlée French Toast: Grand Marnier and orange zest battered, served with fresh whipped cream, mint, fresh seasonal berries and applewood smoked bacon
Bonefish Grill, multiple locations

Sweet & Salty: House-made pound cake French toast, miso maple syrup and side of Nueske’s bacon
Folk, Detroit

Monte Cristo: Oatmeal French toast filled with scrambled eggs, ham, Swiss cheese and Dijon mustard, dusted with powdered sugar & served with a side of habanero sauce
Friendly Toast, Portsmouth, N.H.

Brioche French Toast Soufflé made with fresh berries and served with real maple syrup souffle
Lola’s Café, Ladera Ranch, Calif.

Whole Wheat French Toast with rhubarb compote, mixed seed crumble, caramelized white chocolate crème anglaise
Lula Cafe, Chicago

French Toast Kaanapali, stuffed with pineapple mascarpone cheese, crusted in macadamia and coconut, topped with homemade makrut lime cream sauce and fresh mango syrup
The Victorian Café, Bend, Ore.

About The Author


Rob Corliss is a three-time James Beard House guest chef with more than 30 years of experience that includes running world-class hotels, launching new concepts, working in top marketing agencies and owning the culinary consultancy ATE (All Things Epicurean) since 2009. Based in Nixa, Mo., ATE has an energizing passion focused on flavor innovation and is dedicated to connecting people to their food, environment and wellness. Rob is also a regular contributor to Flavor & The Menu.