By Flavor & The Menu
January 8, 2023
Meat on a stick offers a path to global foods, along with a nod to a convenience culture that is equally valued today. It is further fueled by the growth of meat snacks, high-protein diets and cleaner, simpler labels.
DANIEL CARPENTER, Managing Director and Partner, Sterling-Rice Group
Whole cuts of meat are becoming increasingly expensive as the supply chain struggles to keep up with demand. Kebabs and yakitori allow chefs to use meat with little to no waste, therefore increasing margins and decreasing overhead.
CHARLIE BAGGS, President/Executive Chef, Charlie Baggs Culinary Innovations
Skewers and kebabs are easy for operators to pre-portion and cook, with endless flavor combinations that can be modified to suit any cuisine. They are also a great low-risk way to introduce guests to proteins they may not usually try. Also, utilize ground proteins (similar to Turkish kebabs) with assorted flavor combinations to create unique or signature skewer options.
ADAM MOORE, Chef/President, Flashpoint Innovation
Convenience and fun are big drivers here. Operators can offer more grab-and-go options and be more creative with the flavors and sauces. Offering multiple meats like chicken, lamb and beef with interchangeable flavors like hot honey, chimichurri and pesto keeps this concept fresh and trend-forward.
MICHAEL BUONONATO, Senior VP of Creative Food Solutions
Skewered meats have been a staple in much of the world, however in the U.S., I do think this concept is coming into bigger play for a couple timely reasons. For one, driven in part by the pandemic, shareables and apps have seen a trend toward less “hand service” at the table and a larger use of forks, picks and sticks. As a result, we are seeing more ideation around shareables, and one of the best options is skewered meat offerings. Sticks are also a great way to showcase food items, make them stand tall at the table and allowing for some great Instagrammable photo opps.
JOHN FRANKE, Chef/Founder, Franke Culinary Consulting
Meat served on sticks are unique in that they are shareable but singular at the same time, enabling customers to share without “eating off the same plate,” a sensible approach for post-pandemic menu development.
MIKE LEITNER, Chef/Founder, Mike Leitner Consulting
Skewered meat is the perfect vehicle for new flavor experimentation. Execute with varied sauces for dipping, along with sides delivering texture, like crispy potatoes or rice cakes, and quick-pickled vegetables like carrots and cucumber sticks. Be sure to cut the cubes small enough to cook quickly, be eaten in one bite, and come off the skewer easily.
NANCY JO SEATON, President, Seaton Food Consultants
Impaling meat on sticks requires a certain thickness of meat and/or a weaving of sorts to hold the meat on the skewer, however, the Vietnamese have developed a unique way to clamp larger wafers of meat between a split bamboo chopstick. Cooks often weave a flavorful piece of pure fat or chicken skin around a few pieces of meat. As it cooks, it renders down and bastes the meat. Another layer of flavor results when the fat drops onto the hot grill or coals and the flare-up and smoke infuse the meat with an essence of fire. Consider partnering with a co-packer to season the meat in a proprietary marinade. Skewer it uncooked and then vacuum seal for quick pick-up.
ROBERT DANHI, Chef/Founder, Chef Danhi & Co.
From the 2023 Top 10 Trends issue of Flavor & The Menu, for chefs and menu developers. Read full issue online.