Maximize on-trend opportunities
Flavor trends present amazing growth opportunities for restaurant brands. The challenge is translating them successfully while keeping profitability and ease of execution firmly in the crosshairs. Strategic partnerships with purveyors hold the key to success here.
First of all, chefs need consistent, high-quality products—that’s a must. Second, they need ingredients that help them translate today’s hottest trends in delicious, creative ways.
Read on for real-life menu solutions that key into 10 trends with big opportunity. Rely on these brands to help deliver the flavors and forms today’s diners are looking for.
Seafood is having a moment—breaking into snacks and shareables with a social, fun vibe. The success of poke has ushered in a new era of innovation here, demonstrating an eagerness by consumers to try new and exciting presentations of seafood. Seacuterie gives operators an opportunity to answer that demand.
Also known as seafood charcuterie, this trend features fish and shellfish that are preserved, pickled and in different formats, like spreads. Seacuterie platters are popping up on shareable menus across the country, paired with artisan crackers, grilled sourdough or lavash.
Strategic garnishes help make offerings a standout, with a drizzle of Thousand Island dressing to play up the pastrami theme, for instance, or a variety of pickled vegetables to add a bright counterpoint to a rich assortment of smoked trout dip, aquavit-spiked gravlax and swordfish mortadella.
Thanks to the proliferation of hummus on mainstream menus, innovation in plant-based purées has gained momentum, offering big opportunity menu-wide. Chefs are taking hummus to the next level, creating signature plant-based menu items with creative culinary spins and uses.
Bush’s Best® offers a simple solution with its new Classic Hummus Made Easy®—a shelf-stable pouch that when combined with Bush’s Best® Garbanzo Beans, makes for an easy and consistent starting point.
“For Mexi Hummus, add green chiles, roasted corn, pico de gallo and queso fresco,” says Rob Corliss, Bush’s Best® consulting chef. “Equally strong as a spread on sandwiches or wraps, a mix into soups and sauces or a traditional dip, hummus can be your culinary linchpin—a versatile ingredient that works across menu categories and dayparts.”
Make a hummus dressing for modern bowls and salads—simply thin out hummus with olive oil, vinegar and Dijon. Or combine it with peanut butter, ginger, Sriracha and coconut flakes for a signature spread for a Thai Chicken Wrap.
“A Bush’s Best®-inspired purée can be a culinary workhorse; utilized across your menu as a featured side, salad dressing base, spread, dip, mix-in, thickener or an ingredient swap,” he adds.
It’s been a long time coming—consumers are finally embracing the wonderfully aromatic, big, bold flavors of India.
Today’s opportunity comes by way of the mash-up, where chefs are taking Indian stars like keema pav, tandoori and tikka masala, and cleverly combining them with familiar forms, like loaded fries, chicken wings and tacos.
Tacos and burritos perhaps offer the quickest pathway to acceptance—American consumers show unwavering support to almost any flavor system so long as it’s tucked inside a tortilla.
Chefs are always in search of the next menu superstar—one that delivers both excitement and craveability.
With culinary exploration of the Eastern Mediterranean informing American menus today, it makes sense that two of its best exports are finding favor here: shawarma and döner kebab. These flavor-rich meats are cooked on a rotating spit, sliced thinly and featured in modern sandwiches, salads, loaded fries and bowl builds.
Stand-out recipe development in this trend capitalizes on the rich, savory flavors of both of these Eastern Mediterranean meat styles, adding ingredients like crispy potato sticks or pickled jalapeños for high-impact components.
Textural play has always had a place in successful recipe development, but today’s foodservice landscape demands more attention to detail, and texture with flavor is top of mind.
“It’s not just texture that makes the addition relevant and of value but most often texture with heat, flavor, global appeal, vibrant color or elevation on the plate,” says Trip Kadey, Chef, The French’s Food Company, offering a line of crispy fried vegetables that make an easy addition of crunch and flavor across the menu.
“We like to see textural toppings take on new looks, and new flavors and the appearance of homemade or customized like never seen before. Consider those menu items that are traditionally soft, possibly ooey, gooey with melted cheese—now redesign it with a crunchy addition.”
For example, add value and interest to a dish with a finish of French’s® Crispy Onions, French’s® Potato Sticks or, the newest addition to the line, French’s™ Crispy Jalapeños.
“Consider the pizazz value as the Crispy Jalapeños introduce crunch, heat, flavor and value to a cheesy, pulled chicken quesadilla,” says Kadey. French’s new Crispy Jalapeños deliver a modern textural component to a number of items, including salads, bowls, nachos and burgers.
Condiments, when executed well, unlock craveability. The challenge for operators is to find the next condiment, one that offers versatility with a modern sense of adventure.
Spicy yogurt hits the target. Yogurt serves up a cooling, creamy base while trending chiles spike it with heat—from harissa and Sriracha to Serrano and Hatch.
Possible applications are endless—from a drizzle over roasted carrots to a dollop atop global mash-up tacos.
Innovation around the taco continues at a dizzying, inspiring pace, with consumers enthusiastically embracing all sorts of flavor combinations—all tucked into their favorite, familiar form, the tortilla.
“With a new wave of tacos comes a new wave of opportunities,” says Chef Daniel Ernce on behalf of Mission Foodservice. “Using the canvas of a taco is a great way to introduce consumers to trend-forward concepts, while remaining grounded in familiarity.”
Today’s biggest trends, like veg-centricity, Indian mash-up and Eastern Mediterranean cuisine, all find a happy home in a taco. Mission helps operators capture the trend with flour and corn tortillas, including its new super-soft corn tortillas, as well as wheat-flour and corn-blended Mazina®.
“For Mission, this is an exciting trend for 2018. It means celebrating the simple tortilla as something dynamic that allows chefs and operators to flex their creativity, and encouraging guests to expand their understanding of how new, exciting, and delicious a taco can be with the right products.”
Consumers have discovered the wonders of ancient grains, like quinoa and farro. Today, chefs are showcasing sorghum, an ancient grain with an American narrative.
This homegrown ingredient is being milled into flour, reduced down into syrup, cooked like rice and popped like popcorn.
One of the biggest opportunities here is through its application in modern bowl concepts, offering a gluten-free platform for builds, perhaps layered with beans and produce for a nutrient-rich offering.
A number of drivers are pushing falafel into the spotlight: the fascination with Eastern Mediterranean flavors, the rise in plant-forward cuisine and the chickpea boom.
Chefs are upgrading this humble, yet craveable fritter, tucking it into tacos, serving it over salad, adding it to modern bowl builds and overhauling the classic pita handheld.
“The savory seasonings and signature crispy texture of falafel beg for a counterpoint of acidity and dimension,” says Chef Travis Jenkins for Chef’s Pass, a new line of speed-scratch products by Kerry Foods.
The age of the fun cocktail is here! And everyone is happy about it.
Entertaining drinks check all of the boxes for the modern consumer—flavor-forward, social-friendly and casual. Today’s trend is a countermovement to the more serious cocktail culture, with enlightened touches livening up cocktails, resulting in creative, bold concoctions with a bit of levity.
“This trend represents big opportunities in boozy shakes, low ABV cocktails, Tiki drinks, frosé and cold-brew cocktails, all of which are bound to make their way into the mainstream quickly,” says Joey Torkelson, Beverage Applications Manager for Kerry Foodservice, which serves up two product lines that help brands execute this trend with in-house ease and consistency