Breakfast foods mean comfort – and who doesn’t want more of that right now? They’re also versatile. Many breakfast dishes can be tweaked into satisfying weeknight meals by adding some heat or global flavor, switching up the proteins or testing new presentations.
Salads have come a long way. No one expects a plate of homogeneous greens anymore – salads have evolved to include everything from nuts to herbs to a rainbow of fruits and vegetables prepared in a myriad of ways. And yes, salads can even qualify as comfort food when you include some craveable components (soft pretzels, anyone?). The potential combinations of colors, textures and constructions can inspire chefs and make for Instagram-worthy presentations. What can you dream up?
Like the proteins you offer on your menu, your milk options may be evolving too. Whether from dietary intolerances or growing ethical awareness, consumers are turning away from cow’s milk – or are at least open to plant-based alternatives. A Cargill survey found that as many as half of U.S. dairy consumers also consume plant-based alternatives – with nearly half of respondents believing a balanced diet doesn’t need dairy. But vegetarian milk options – which currently range from soy to coconut to almond to oat and beyond – aren’t without their problems. If your clientele is environmentally conscious, consider this report from The Guardian, which provides a rundown of the pros and cons of the plant-based milks widely available now – with oat milk coming out on top.
Chances are you have more guests asking to forgo the bread on sandwiches and wraps these days, whether to accommodate a food sensitivity or in an aim to consume fewer processed foods. Lettuce wraps have become a go-to substitute – and when packed with the right combinations of protein, spices and condiments as fillings, they can lend texture, color and crunch to a dish, all while helping guests eat their veggies.
As consumers’ busy lifestyles blur the boundaries between day parts, your menu of snacks and small plates can make you a favorite spot for a quick bite. Sliders are always a win on the menu – they’re eye-catching, shareable (if table mates are feeling generous) and can satisfy a burger craving while providing just enough food to take the edge off. Chefs can get creative with sliders too – use them to test out new condiments, toppings and sides or to experiment with some Instagrammable presentations.
What chef doesn’t want a ready supply of simple, versatile sauces and marinades? Chimichurri sauce can liven up a variety of dishes and, in keeping with its Argentinian roots, is an especially good complement to beef. Serve it atop steak crostini for a colorful, satisfying addition to your selection of small plates or appetizers.
From pineapple on pizza to maple syrup on bacon, sweet and salty flavors can bring out the best in each other. In her book TASTE: Surprising Stories and Science About Why Food Tastes Good, the author Barb Stuckey compares the experience of eating a sweet and salty food to “hearing beautiful music while sniffing rose petals.” It sparks the senses in two ways at once, creating an experience that is better and more memorable than it would be if a person experienced those sensations individually. What sweet-and-salty combinations can you create to elevate the flavors on your menu?
One of the best parts about serving turkey during the holiday season is the leftovers, right? If you served smoked turkey on your menu this year, its depth of flavor can enhance any number of post-holiday meals. Stick with seasonal flavors by mixing up a turkey-cranberry salad to serve on bread or greens, or create your own take on James Beard’s turkey-and-stuffing hash. Or, parlay the smoky flavor into new dishes that can benefit from a little heat, like a barbecue-style smoked turkey sandwich with pear chutney, smoked turkey enchiladas, or a three-bean smoked turkey chili.
It’s hard to deny the growing mainstream appeal of plant-based foods. The grocery store giant Kroger recently announced it was launching Simple Truth Plant Based, its own line of plant-based burgers and sausages, as a generic alternative to premium plant-based brands. Impossible Foods has won celebrity endorsements from the likes of Jay Z, Serena Williams and Katy Perry. You’re likely experimenting with more plant-based options on your menu. But could you default to vegetables? The University of Cambridge may offer a glimpse into what that might look like for you. Hospitality and Catering News reports that the university’s catering service, which operates 14 outlets and manages more than 1,500 hospitality events each year, removed all beef and lamb from its menus in 2016, replacing those items with plant-based options as part of a new Sustainable Food Policy. In making the changes, the university set out to reduce its consumption of meat, improve and increase the availability of plant-based options, remove unsustainable fish from its menus and reduce food waste. In the process, the university catering service trained its chefs in vegan cooking and its café managers in marketing for sustainability as opposed to profit. In the years since the university implemented its Sustainable Food Policy, it has been able to share dramatic effects with its guests. Despite a rise in how much food the university purchased, overall carbon emissions across the university catering service have dropped by 10.5 percent, according to the report. Further, there was a 33 percent reduction in carbon emissions per kilogram of food purchased and a 28 percent reduction in land use per kilogram of food purchased. Finally, even though food costs have increased since the university launched its policy, its gross profits have increased by 2 percent.
The Speciality Food Association expects fermented condiments – and particularly Gochujang – to be among the top food trends to take off in 2020. Gochujang, the Korean red chili paste made from fermented soybeans, rice and seasonings, gives a kick to marinades, dipping sauces, soups and stews. How can you use it and other fermented condiments on your menu in the coming year?