Flavor Trends, Strategies and Solutions for Menu Development

By Flavor & The Menu
September 10, 2019

Andrea Murdoch is an Andean native, deriving much of her culinary inspiration from ingredients indigenous to the Andes and its rich native culture. She is chef de cuisine at University of Colorado Boulder, where she is tasked with providing nutritious and innovative culinary choices for the school’s community, using locally sourced ingredients.

She is also chef/owner of Four Directions Cuisine, a catering company in Denver, where she specializes in interpretive indigenous cuisine, sourcing ingredients from North, Central, South and Mesoamerica.

Her dishes showcase a deep connection to ingredients grown in those regions. Examples include: Murdoch’s Mountain Biscuits made with blue corn and amaranth flour, and Buffalo Ropa Vieja, served over Red Lake wild rice with seasonal vegetables.

Here, she shares five of her go-to pantry ingredients.

Maca Root Powder

Native to the high Andes in South America, this root has an earthy, malty flavor that I like to add to my favorite frozen custard base. It’s my way of creating a “malted” flavored custard using an indigenous root.

Annatto Seeds

These deep-red pebble-like seeds have a savory flavor to them, and, when steeped in liquid, they introduce an eye-catching component to a dish. I like infusing the seeds in sunflower oil for finishing plates, and in a coconut broth to create what I call an “indigenous barbecue sauce” for my signature rabbit dish.

Heirloom Potatoes

As an Andina, I can’t get enough of potatoes. A humble bowl of roasted purple and fingerling potatoes with salt and olive oil serves as an entire dinner for me sometimes. I love working with potatoes in various applications to see what I can create in an innovative way.

Pulverized Sweet Corn

I source a particular dehydrated sweet corn from the Midwest and pulverize it in a spice grinder to use in a house-crafted seasoning blend—it truly tastes like sweet corn! It’s strangely familiar, but different all at once, which is what people like. It’s great on white meats such as turkey, or on vegetables.


This is a versatile and sustainable animal protein. It’s incredibly lean, making it a heart-healthy meat. It also lends itself well to showcasing bolder flavors through braising and marinating techniques.

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