Flavor Trends, Strategies and Solutions for Menu Development




By Rob Corliss
October 16, 2020

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Signature main features anchor a menu and provide operators with a point of differentiation. Look to strategic uses of fermented flavors as a way to help dial up that differentiation. It’s certainly a good time to explore the world of fermented ingredients as their different attributes resonate with diners today—from wellness and function to food with a great flavor story to quality housemade offerings.

Creatively execute this via the simple yet well-placed touch of fermented ingredients as key component in builds, including vinegars, pickles and preserves, as well as the judicious use of manufactured products.

Here’s a look at how restaurants nationwide are incorporating fermentation across savory menu features.

Menu Sightings: HANDHELDS

  • The Classic Combo: (famous latke press sandwiches) Honeycrisp apple, caramelized onion, sherry vinegar, thyme, spinach and Brie
    Schmaltzy’s Delicatessen, Seattle

  • #1 Pan Pizza in the World Quack Attack: Our signature 5-day fermented dough topped with pan-seared duck breast, roasted garlic butter sauce, wild mushroom ragù, tomatoes, baby arugula, Fontinella, Parmesan and truffle-garlic oil
    Caliente Pizza & Draft House, Pittsburgh, Penn.

  • Reuben: Smoked corned beef, kimchi, kraut, Havarti cheese, special sauce, rye
    Little Goat Diner, Chicago

  • Noble Grilled Cheese: Sharp cheddar, cultured butter, sourdough country
    High Street on Market, Philadelphia

  • The Fermenter Burger: Smoked onion shio-koji glaze, millet-lentil tempeh burger, dill pickle slices, miso sauce, Grano Bakery stecca roll, lettuce/tomato/onion
    Fermenter, Portland, Ore.

Menu Sightings: KNIFE/FORK

  • Savory: Red fife rigatoni, pork sausage, koji tomato sauce
    Emmer & Rye, Austin, Texas

  • “CK Teow” Char Kway Teow: Flat noodle, shrimp, calamari, Sriracha, smoky soy, Chinese sausage, bean sprouts, egg, chives, served with sambal belacan (shrimp paste sambal)
    Phat Eatery, Katy, Texas

  • Lobster Pot Pie: Poblano pepper, corn, peas, lime-crème fraiche
    Bludorn Restaurant, Houston, Texas

  • Ancient Vegan Bowl: Plant-based, protein-rich vegan bowl with jollof rice (rice cooked in spiced tomato broth), efo riro (kale, okra, dawadawa fermented locust bean, red palm fruit oil stew)
    Terranga, Harlem, N.Y.


Pork GalbiSmithfield Culinary

This Pork Galbi packs in flavor with a Korean-inspired marinade of soy, brown sugar, ginger, garlic and mirin, then dials up the umami with a brushing of yuzu kosho, a condiment made with fermented chiles, yuzu lemon and salt.



About The Author

Rob Corliss

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.