Flavor Trends, Strategies and Solutions for Menu Development

By Cathy Nash Holley
September 8, 2021

Looking back over the past year and a half, many food and beverage menu developers have had to dedicate more of their time to efforts relating to the immediate needs of their operations than to flavor development. Front-burner crises like Covid protocols, labor shortages and supply chain disruptions, along with the need for intensive onboarding and detailing of takeout and delivery, virtual or ghost operations, make it entirely understandable that the level of flavor innovation we knew in 2019 slipped off the tracks

Now, more than a year into this new landscape, menu developers are learning to navigate this dual-minded approach of crises management and menu innovation. These forced learnings are yielding lasting wins.

California-based Lazy Dog Restaurants is one such concept, building on the “meet-them-where-they-are” mindset, offering family meals to go and a virtual pizza-based pop-up that makes appearances on the casual chain’s menu. Chef Gabe Caliendo’s quote sums up the approach: “We’re coming out of a year-plus of only doing what’s absolutely necessary…and we’re still on the yellow brick road trying to figure our way out of it.”

We offer up this issue as a roadmap to innovative flavor strategies. Throughout these pages are stepping stones of inspiration—here are 10 to spark ideas:

While pressing issues will continue to require more energy and effort than in past years, it’s critical for menu success that flavor innovation remains a primary focus. Your guests will thank you for it.

About The Author


Cathy Nash Holley has been Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Flavor & The Menu since the magazine began over 20 years ago. With its annual Top 10 Trends issue, Flavor & The Menu is a valuable resource for the foodservice industry, serving as a source of flavor and menu trends, strategies and innovation. In addition to overseeing the media brand, Cathy also serves as President of The Flavor Experience, an annual foodservice conference held each August, and is past-president of the International Foodservice Editorial Council. A native of the west coast, she resides in Maine with her husband and is mom to twin college students.