Flavor Trends, Strategies and Solutions for Menu Development

By Katie Ayoub
September 10, 2019

Spread, a modern Mediterranean restaurant in Los Angeles, blends California ingredients with Eastern Mediterranean cuisine beautifully. Brandon Parker, chef/co-owner, celebrates veg-centricity in flavor-forward ways. “I think a lot of our success comes from that approach,” he says.

His Seared Mushrooms with pine nuts, tahini, fresh herbs and smoked salt is a great example. Another standout is his Crispy Cauliflower with harissa aïoli.

He tosses cauliflower florets in California Greek yogurt, curry powder, honey, salt and vegetable oil, then deep fries until crispy and golden. “The Greek yogurt helps the cauliflower hang on to the curry powder, and it gives it a great texture and flavor,” says Parker. “We work with a California purveyor who supplies fantastic dairy products, from labneh to Cotija.”

He serves the mezze with a dipping sauce of harissa aïoli. “I love harissa because it’s savory, with notes of citrus and caraway, and gives you flavor without a lot of heat,” he says.

Parker uses Greek yogurt in a number of applications on the menu, relying on its fresh dairy notes, creaminess and tanginess. It also ties in well with his Mediterranean concept.

“We make a ‘Granch,’ a Greek yogurt ranch, that we use in a few dishes,” he says. For example, Spread’s Fried Chicken with fennel slaw is served with Granch, made by combining Greek yogurt, buttermilk, za’atar and fresh herbs. “It’s a little thicker than regular ranch and has a nice tartness to it,” says Parker.

He also uses Greek yogurt in a stellar frozen yogurt dessert, topped with sour-cherry preserves and beet salt.

About The Author


Katie Ayoub is managing editor of Flavor & The Menu. She has been working in foodservice publishing for more than 16 years and on the Flavor team since 2006. She won a 2015 Folio award for her Flavor & The Menu article, Heritage Matters. In 2006, she won “Best Culinary Article” from the Cordon D’Or for an article on offal.