Flavor Trends, Strategies and Solutions for Menu Development

Vegan BLT Yale University | New Haven, Conn.

PHOTO CREDIT: Flavor & The Menu Staff

It takes culinary gumption to swap out bacon with sweet potato, but that’s what Rafi Taherian, Associate VP of Yale Dining, did when he created the S.P.L.T. (sweet potato, lettuce, tomato). This menu item is part of an overall strategy to increase plant-based foods at the university.  “We have proven that the myth of healthy food being neither flavorful nor popular is dead,” he says.

The S.P.L.T. also proves that flavor must come first. This veg-centric build starts with smoked, then dried sweet potatoes. Once crispy, he brushes them with maple syrup and sprinkles coarse black pepper, ratcheting up the flavor and the textural play. “The result is a crispy strip that resembles a thick-cut piece of smoked maple bacon,” says Taherian. “This sandwich, served on thick-cut sourdough wheat bread, is one of the most successful sandwiches we have produced.”

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