November 18th, 2019

Does Poutine Belong on Your Menu?

Posted in Food Trends, Tips

Poutine is a Vehicle for Flavor and Revenue

Poutine Recipes

Have you considered adding poutine options to your menu? Perhaps you should.

Poutine is a Canadian staple consisting of French fries, gravy, and cheese curds. But it can be so much more! You can slather your fries in an array of sauces, condiments, and garnishes. Not only is poutine a clear fan favorite, it’s a great way to cross-utilize and up-sell.

The word “poutine” itself has many different meanings and derivatives, but it’s a commonly accepted Québécois slang word meaning “mess.” And when it comes to fries, a hot mess is really a good thing. And, if you worry that your customers just won’t get poutine, you can always opt for calling them “dirty fries.”

So, let’s look beyond chili cheese and see how else you can drive sales with smothered French fries.

Unique Poutine Ideas

Pizza Poutine

Pizza Poutine

Let’s start off the list with an absolute crowd pleaser.

Everyone loves fries and everyone loves pizza, so why not combine them? Smother your crispy French fries with a smoky fire roasted tomato sauce, melted mozzarella cheese, and savory pepperoni. Finish it with some briny slices of pepperoncini peppers, fresh grated Parmesan, and an Italian herb mix. This is a can’t miss up-sell.

Buffalo Chicken Poutine

Buffalo csauce

It’s football season and what’s better with the game than savory buffalo chicken wings? How about buffalo chicken poutine?

Top your papas with a dash of celery salt and a heap of shredded chicken blended with Ragin’ Red Buffalo sauce. Garnish with a drizzle of Ranch dressing, feta cheese, and loads of sliced green onions. There’s no way your mouth isn’t watering right now.

Smoky Mexican Poutine

Mexican Poutine

Now let’s really turn up the heat.

Top your fries with savory ground beef, melted cheddar cheese, or better yet, creamy queso then hit it with a generous drizzle of smoky chipotle sauce. Add some sour cream to cool things off and finish with chopped green onion ripe tomato, and cilantro. How could that not sell?!

Korean Poutine

Korean Poutine

Don’t sleep on the Korean flavor craze. It’s holding on strong, and with that in mind, it’s not a bad idea to Asian-up your poutine either.

Here let’s opt for pulled pork on top of the fries with a liberal splash of sweet and savory gochujang BBQ sauce. Skip the dairy on this build and instead hit it with some spicy kimchi, fresh green onions, cilantro, and sesame seeds. Guaranteed to knock your socks off!

Endless Possibilities

We’ve just given you a few ideas of how poutine can liven up your menu. These French fry dishes work as a great way to up-sell a staple menu item and cross utilize existing ingredients. Use your imagination (as well as your pantry) and see what craveable concoctions you can create.

Cheers!

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October 21st, 2019

The New Fall Flavors

Posted in Consumer Trends, Food Trends, Trends

There’s More than Pumpkin Spice for Fall Flavors

Fall Flavors

Let’s be honest, when you think of Fall flavors most likely the first thing that pops into your head is pumpkin spice. It’s OK though, it’s not your fault. We’ve been conditioned for years now by cafes and restaurants to equate the arrival of Fall with the arrival of pumpkin spice.

But that won’t be forever. In fact, last year showed a 2% dip in the market for introductions of pumpkin spice flavored items. And while that still leaves the flavor on 17% of menus nationally, it shows the pumpkin might be withering a bit.

So, with that in mind let’s look at 3 flavors that could upset the appl-er-pumpkin spice cart.

Maple

Fall Flavors Dark Maple Syrup

This should not be a shocker. Maple flavor is delicious and all over the place. Often combined with other flavors like maple pecan, maple butter, or maple chile, the rich and flavorful syrup is a great vehicle for innovation.

What’s new, however, is our general perception of what “good” maple syrup is. Previously, Grade A Amber Maple Syrup has dominated the market. But with a change in the grading system allowing darker, more richly flavored syrups to also be classified as Grade A, I expect to see a push in that direction.

The true beauty of richer maple syrups is that their complexity will lead to new flavorful creations. Things like black maple BBQ sauce, dark maple chile glazed wings, and smoky maple bacon have opportunities to shine.

Molasses

Fall Flavors Molasses BBQ

Photo courtesy of iwillnoteatoysters.com.com

A pantry staple for decades, molasses is resurfacing thanks to an inclined perception of its complex, bitter (see below) flavors. Blackstrap Molasses is becoming a common quality callout on menus. It’s deep, rich, umami-ful flavor is perfect for BBQ sauces, meat glazes, stews, chilies, stir-fry, kebabs, and much more.

Molasses-based sauces offer a depth of flavor and richness that can’t be easily replicated. They’re a great way to elevate a line of menu items without adding a lot of new ingredients.

Char

No, not the fish. Yes, the burnt stuff.

Fall Flavors Char

Bitter flavors continue to be all the rage among diners. Burnt caramel, charred vegetables, fire roasted tomatoes and peppers, you name it. Even bitter drinks continue to grow in popularity. IPAs, Black IPAs, rich German dunkels, and schwarzbiers are all finding homes on menus around the country.

And Fall meshes perfectly with charred flavors. Think of all the BBQing, grilling, open-fire cooking, roasting, and such that’s going on. Combine these with a blackstrap molasses BBQ sauce and you might be on the way to re-shaping the future of fall flavors. Sorry pumpkin…

Time to Fall Forward

Let’s rethink the flavors that come with Fall and move forward into complex, new creations that leave the pumpkins behind (unless you want to char one). Do any other flavors come to mind when you think of fall? Apple cider maybe? Let us know in the comments below.

Cheers!

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October 7th, 2019

Flavor Trends: Aji Amarillo

Posted in Food Trends, Peru, Trends

Aji Amarillo is Quickly Finding its Place on Menus

Aji Amarillo

Photo Courtesy of SpecialtyProduce.com

In April of 2019 we posted a New Hot Sauces article which discussed the rising interest of specific chilies on menus nationwide. The trend for unique chile callouts was (and still is) gaining speed and finding a firm footing on menus.

Even before that we had done a write up on how aji amarillo can act as a unique flavor driver with its medium heat and bright, citrusy notes. Also, its versatility makes it a great addition to anything from BBQ and hot sauces, to aioli, salad dressings, or even pizza sauces.

Well it seems we may have been peering through the looking glass on that one, because aji amarillo is quickly finding a home on select menus.

Where is Aji Amarillo on the Menu Adoption Cycle?

Aji Amarillo Chilies

Image courtesy of HispanicKitchen.com

According to Datassential, aji amarillo currently sits at the “Inception” stage of the menu adoption cycle. This means that, as of now, it’s considered a premium ingredient that can be found on mostly fine dining menus and at ethnic independents.

And while this ingredient may be just starting to peak into adoption, it’s important to note that interest in aji has grown over 135% over the last 4 years. And with only 4% of the population having tried it, it’s a huge opportunity to create a unique menu item to gain new customers and leverage the trend of specific chile callouts.

Who’s currently Using Aji Amarillo?

Aji amarillo

Image courtesy of Suviche.com

Florida based ceviche chain Suviche is well-known for their love of the aji amarillo chile. It can be found in their homemade huancaina sauce, or on full display in their aji amarillo ceviche, tiradito, and the Aji de Gallina.

Killa Wasi, in Austin, TX, has put together a deliciously unique menu with a focus on aji chiles. The pepper is found in a spicy mayonnaise sauce, in cheesy queso dip, on braised Chichi pork, and atop their Texas style Lomo Saltado brisket.

How Can I Use Aji Amarillo?

This yellow/orange chile is as versatile as it is delicious. As we stated before, it makes a great addition to BBQ sauces, salad dressings, pizzas, and creamy dips or aioli.

Aji amarillo

Image courtesy of SeriousFoodie.com

Additionally, aji amarillo makes an excellent glaze or sauce for chicken wings, a relish for sandwiches or hot dogs, a marinade for fish, and a bright addition to ceviche. Or, go simple and blend aji amarillo sauce with mayonnaise and a hint of lime for an excellent dipping sauce for French fries.

It’s a Good Time to be Yellow

Because aji amarillo is coming soon, and it’s best to be ready for it. So, start discussing where you can fit this spicy little gem on your menu to ensure you’re ready to lead the trend with your own brightly colored, flavorful sauce.

Cheers!

 

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September 23rd, 2019

America’s Fastest Growing Restaurant Concepts

Posted in Consumer Trends, Food Trends

Which Are America’s Fastest Growing Restaurant Concepts?

Fastest Growing Restaurant Concepts

With the rapidly changing food landscape, it can be very difficult to become one of America’s fastest growing restaurant concepts. But, someone (or, some type) must hold the mantle.

And while it’s good to know who’s growing, for those of us monitoring trends, it’s better to know why. What are the driving flavors? What makes it special? Why now? So, let’s dive in and see if we can get some answers.

America’s Fastest Growing Restaurant Concepts

Coffee & Tea Cafes

Fastest Growing Restaurant Concepts

These are by far the fastest growing concepts. Enabling them to do this is their flexibility and constant innovation. From cold brew to nitro, and nitro to CBD all within a matter of months at times.

Their adaptability to popular trends, and let’s face it, undeterred support from Millennials and Gen Xers, helps to ensure their continued growth.

Hawaiian Concepts

Hawaiian Food

Thanks almost entirely to poke bowls, Hawaiian restaurant concepts have blossomed across the nation. Some estimates predict that over the next 4 years poke will increase in popularity another 47%.

That means that this food trend is here to stay. And with a constant push for fresh, healthy food, it’s a logical fit.

Brewpubs/Gastropubs/Wine Bars

Wine Bars on the Rise

The increasing popularity in craft beers, local distilleries, smart menu curation, and innovative cocktails have driven these concepts into the forefront. The experimental nature of these establishments makes them fertile ground for unique food menus as well. Patrons know they’re headed for a unique experience and these concepts hate to disappoint.

Scandinavian Food

Fastest Growing Restaurant Concepts

No, really. A love for fermented and foraged foods has created a massive interest in Scandinavian cuisine. When you couple that with the re-launch of Noma, it makes sense that people are interested.

Expect to see Swedish, Icelandic, and Finnish restaurants and pop-ups hit your neighborhood soon, if they haven’t already.

Out with the Old, In with the New

As in all things, when new ideas rise, others must fall. In this case, the rise of these restaurant concepts has led to the stalling of others, such as: Bars & Grills, British concepts, and Swiss/Fondue concepts.

While it’s unfortunate, it is the nature of the business. We look forward to following the trends to see what else the people will be clamoring for. Until then…

Cheers!

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September 9th, 2019

Hot New Menu Items

Posted in Food Trends, New Foods and Flavors, Promotions

New Menu Items Show Love for Smoke and Heat

New Menu Items

As we close out the third quarter of the year and prepare to enter the fourth, we’re seeing quite a few interesting new menu items set to launch. From shrimp to waffles, smoke and spice trends seem to dominate.

Dickey’s BBQ Pit

Smoked Chicken Wings

Photo courtesy of Dickeys.com

Dickey’s is going all in on a permanent addition of its pit smoked wings to the menu. These were recently tested and proved a hit, so they’re not letting the excitement drop. There’s no end in sight for these savory wings, available in flavors like Sweet BBQ, Carolina BBQ, Buffalo, Hot Buffalo, and Texas Hot.

Norm’s

New Menu Items

The famous California diner, Norm’s, isn’t shying away from new flavor trends. From now until January 2020 you can enjoy one of their delicious Belgian waffles topped with crispy fried chicken and a spicy Sriracha honey sauce. We’ve seen this flavor combination pop-up in a few places in the past, but it’s nice to see it finding space on more conservative menus.

Red Lobster

New Menu Items

Photo courtesy of RedLobster.com

Never one to shy away from promotions, Red Lobster is making a safe bet with its $15.99 Endless Shrimp LTO. Set for an unspecified amount of time, this deal offers the diner a bottomless supply of Crispy Sriracha Honey, Teriyaki Grilled, or one of the other 3 shrimp flavors. You only get to select 2 flavors per order, however.

Subway

Smoked Brisket Sandwich

Photo courtesy of Subculture.Subway.com

Always a fan favorite, Subway continues to find new ways to satisfy sandwich cravings at an affordable price. Their newest addition to the lineup is the Pit-smoked Brisket Sandwich, complete with a sweet and tangy BBQ sauce. This will only be available through September 6, however, so get there fast.

Taco Bell

Baked Cheddar Chalupa

Photo courtesy of Thrillist.com

It would seem unreal to not include Taco Bell on a new product launch list. The perennial masters of innovative ideas never disappoint. This time they are launching a Toasted Cheddar Chalupa, available with chicken or beef, or as a Bacon Club build. With 6-month aged Cheddar baked into the shell, it sounds like a can’t miss concept.

What’s Next?

I guess we’ll see soon. New menu launches and LTOs seem to be picking up speed recently, so I don’t doubt lots more interesting and delicious foods will be available soon. Be sure to stay tuned to see what else we uncover.

Cheers!

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August 12th, 2019

BBQ is King on Summer Menus

Posted in Consumer Trends, Food Trends, Restaurants

Between LTO’s and Menu Updates, BBQ Reigns

BBQ is King

Summer is in full swing and according to menus nationwide, BBQ is king!

Aside all the frozen cocktails, fruit-focused summer salads, and swimsuit friendly bites, you’ll find smoky barbecue options hitting the mark. This trend isn’t simply relegated to full-service restaurants, it’s occurring across all market segments. Just check the menus…

BBQ on Summer Menus

Fast Food

BBQ Trends

Photo courtesy of chikfila.com

It looks like the fast food segment is all for the push to savory BBQ flavors. Chick-fil-A recently launched their Smokehouse BBQ Bacon Chicken Sandwich, while KFC has re-released their Smoky Mountain BBQ and Georgia Gold options. Across the board, burger staples like McDonald’s, Burger King, Carl’s Jr., and Jack in the Box are all featuring a seasonal BBQ option. Even Arby’s is on board with their Bourbon BBQ Sandwich selection.

Quick Service

BBQ Flavors

Photo courtesy of chewboom.com

QSR businesses are known for their trend forward ways and menu flexibility. It’s part of what makes them special. So, it’s no surprise to see BBQ options on these menus as well. Starbucks is taking their chance on a Honey BBQ Sriracha Chicken Sandwich, while Boston Market is going with a re-release of the Bourbon Bacon Rotisserie Chicken. MOD Pizza is blending pineapple with BBQ on their limited edition “Fred Pizza,” featuring Canadian bacon, roasted pineapple, red onion, and a sweet BBQ sauce swirl.

Full Service

BBQ on Menus

Photo courtesy of Chilis.com

Ruby Tuesdays, known for their epic salad bar, is upping their game with a Hickory Bourbon Bacon Sirloin. Chili’s has gone even further, pushing their BBQ options onto a new Smokehouse Combo menu, where you can mix and match choices of smoked brisket, cheesy bacon BBQ chicken, BBQ ribs, and smoked sausages. Outback Steakhouse has found legs in the BBQ trend with options like the Aussie Twisted Ribs and the BBQ Pork Porterhouse.

Where there’s smoke there’s fire!

And these flavor trends are hot! It’s no coincidence that BBQ is King on national menus. We saw massive growth with BBQ flavors last year, and 2019 doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. So, don’t fall behind, give the people what they want with unique new BBQ flavors and pairings.

Cheers!

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July 29th, 2019

Hibiscus Trend is Blooming

Posted in Food Trends, New Foods and Flavors

Hibiscus is trending on menus for its bright flavor and brighter color!

Hibiscus flower

I feel like it’s been too long since we’ve discussed flavor trends, so we’re going to end that streak today with a look at hibiscus.

Now, when I say hibiscus you probably think of a flower garnish on a Mai Tai or a component flavor in tea. But these vibrant flowers have proven to be a lot more versatile then we give them credit for. Their slightly bitter and citrusy flavor makes them perfect for an array of uses from garnish, sauces, beverages, and herbs.

Now Trending: Hibiscus

According to Datassential, hibiscus currently falls into the “adoption” stage of the Menu Adoption Cycle (MAC). This generally means that it’s gaining traction on menus but is still considered unique. It can be found at independent casual-dining and progressive fast-casual restaurants.

Hibiscus Glazed Wings

Image courtesy of Wahaca Twitter

It’s currently found on 6% of menus nationally, which is a 69% increase over the past 4 years. While the product is most familiar with Millennials and Gen Z, over half of the population has heard of it and almost a quarter have tried it. This leaves fertile ground to explore hibiscus in application.

In fact, the product Wild Hibiscus Flowers in Syrup recently won the 2019 Front Burner Foodservice Pitch Competition. How’s that for timing?!

How to Use Hibiscus

Hibiscus is most commonly found in beverages, such as teas, cocktails, and agua frescas. But those are merely entry points for this ingredient.

Velvet Taco in Dallas serves their “Gator” taco on a hypnotically purple hibiscus taco shell. With its mild tartness, it’s a great balance to the fatty meat inside. You can use hibiscus in almost any bakery application to add color and an aromatic citric note.

Hibiscus Taco

Image courtesy of dallas.culturemap.com

Looking for a tangy sweet glaze for pork or lamb? Hibiscus and cranberry or orange make an excellent addition, cutting through the fattiness of the meat with bright, fresh flavor. It’s equally delicious in chutneys and vinaigrettes.

White fish and hibiscus also have a special relationship. It can be used as a dry rub, sweet sauce, or fresh garnish to bring a tropical note to the meat. It can also be an excellent component to ceviche, exemplified by Poca Madre’s Hamachi Ceviche, made with hibiscus, agua Jamaica, garlic, chile Serrano, and corn.

Where to Find Hibiscus

Hibiscus Ceviche

Photo courtesy of nrn.com

As its popularity grows, so does its availability. Hibiscus powder and dried flowers can often be sourced through networks like Shamrock and Sysco. Smaller producers, such as Iya Foods and the Wild Hibiscus Flower Company are also working on bringing their distribution up to meet the needs of a larger market.

Fresh hibiscus flowers can be more difficult to locate, but Fresh Origins, a micro greens company that works with most major distributors, can provide them.

Power to the Flower

As hibiscus continues along the MAC, we can expect to see new and unique methods of utilization. I, for one, expect to see it used often in sauces where color becomes almost as important as flavor. In our Instagram generation, it never hurts to pay attention to the aesthetics.

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July 15th, 2019

Plant Based Meats Hit the Bigs

Posted in Consumer Trends, Food Trends, Vegetables

Big Players Join the Plant-Based Meat Movement

Plant Based Meats

In our last blog we discussed the proliferation of plant-based meats, along with the new clean/cell-based meat technology. We covered the big players in those arenas and the popularity of their products through growth and national menu acceptance.

This week we’re going to piggyback on that topic by looking at some of the bigger international players looking to break into the plant-based meat market. The most notable names in this category include Tyson, Nestle, and Hormel.

Plant-Based Meats Go Prime Time

Tyson

Tyson Foods crafted their empire through chicken and poultry but have proven repeatedly to be willing to change. From bacon to dog treats, sausages to meal kits, Tyson is no stranger to exploration. Which is why it should come as no surprise that they’ve begun the development of their own plant-based protein brand, Raised & Rooted.

Plant based proteins

Image courtesy of foodnavigator-usa.com

Using blends of pea protein powder and other plant-based ingredients, Tyson looks to gain a strong foothold through diverse product development. Foods included in this category are chicken nuggets, blended burgers (which will include Angus beef), and a mix of sausages and meatballs under the Aidell’s brand name. The vegan nuggets are expected in stores this summer while the blended burgers are slated for fall, 2019.

In support of these products, Tyson is working with and investing in many plant-based protein startups in order to gain an edge in the flavor race. One such company is MycoTechnolgy, the developer of a mushroom-based product called PureTaste. PureTaste is a clean label product designed to” clean up the taste profile of plant-based proteins.”

Nestlé Sweet Earth

meat alternatives

Image courtesy of foodnavigator-usa.com

Instead of undergoing their own infrastructure change, Nestlé purchased Sweet Earth, a plant-based protein producer, in 2017. While the agreement left original owners Kerry and Brian Swette in charge of operations, they actively receive support from Nestlé USA Foods Division.

Sweet Earth has gained quite the cult following in California with their craveable breakfast burritos and flavorful veggie burgers. Their partnership with Nestlé offers them immediate national distribution, marketing support, and trusted brand recognition. This year they intend to launch a new wave of products including the “Awesome Burger,” and its ground beef component, “Awesome Grounds.” A higher percentage of protein and fiber sets Sweet Earth products apart from their competition.

Hormel

Plant-based protein

Hormel is entering this market a bit more timidly than the other players. The initial offering will be a plant-based pizza topping (with little more description than that) focusing on the food service market. They’ve also recently introduced the “Fuse Burger,” a blend of turkey and rice, and the “Blend Burger” under the Applegate brand. The “Blend Burgers” feature a mix of meats and mushrooms.

No word on whether Hormel will investigate further plant-based meat options, but it’s clear they are monitoring the situation with a focus on restaurant applications.

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July 1st, 2019

Meat Alternatives – A New Normal?

Posted in Food Trends, Product Innovation

Could the new generation of meat alternatives win over even carnivores?

Plant-based Proteins

Plant-based proteins, clean meats, and other meat alternatives continue to evolve in the world of culinary innovation. A handful of imaginative companies have progressed this category so far that it’s caught the attention of larger food manufacturers, distributors, and restaurants looking to get a slice.

Even national restaurant brands are taking notice, including meat alternatives on national menu rollouts. Let’s look at a few leaders in this category and see if meat alternatives could become the new normal.

Plant-Based Proteins

Impossible Foods

Impossible Burger

Photo courtesy of Medium.com

For those not familiar with Impossible Foods, maker of the Impossible Burger, you might recognize their original shtick: A plant-based burger that seems to bleed like a beef burger using vegetable heme. While this concept was somewhat repulsive to vegans and vegetarians, and a novelty with omnivores, the brand earned its staying power with how delicious the product is.

The new focus has been on removing allergens to increase the consumer base. As of 2019 Impossible Foods has reformulated the product in order to remove wheat, making it now vegan and gluten-free. It does, however, still contain soy. This step makes the brand much more accessible and attractive for national menu roll outs.

Meat Alternatives

Photo courtesy of ImpossibleFoods.com

This fact is further exemplified by their newly announced relationship with Little Caesars. As of May 20th, Little Caesars will be testing a meatless pizza topped with Impossible Sausage crumbles in 58 restaurants including Washington State, New Mexico, and Florida. If initial customer feedback is positive, we could see a national launch shortly after. You can also find Impossible products at Red Robin, Dave & Buster’s, QDOBA, Bar Louie, Burger King and more.

Beyond Meat

Photo Courtesy of BeyondMeat.om

Photo Courtesy of BeyondMeat.om

Beyond Meat is another brand that has effectively matched the flavor and texture of meat with their plant-based products. While Beyond also produces a burger patty, they differentiate themselves with a line of sausages. Available in Traditional Bratwurst and Hot Italian Links, Beyond Sausages have proved to be a true crowd pleaser in testing, focus groups, and at food shows. I can attest to the food show craze, having to wait in a line 30 people deep to get a taste of the Traditional Bratwurst. Worth it.

Beyond has also managed to expand into food service on a national scale. Their products are available at places like TGI Friday’s, Carl’s Jr., Del Taco, Burger Fi, and A&W. With their ever-growing list of accolades, including consecutive FABI awards in 2017 and 2018, there’s no doubt we’ll see continued innovation from, and interest in, Beyond Meat products.

Clean Meats

Clean meat, which is also referred to as “cultured meat,” is produced through cellular replication. Why this may seem like off-putting science fiction, the truth is it’s likely to be not only indistinguishable from natural meat, but more affordable. Best of all, this meat be can produced without hormones and antibiotics.

Meat Alternatives

Photo courtesy of MosaMeat.com

While these products aren’t currently on the market, it’s valuable to look ahead and see what kind of potential they could become in a rapidly changing market space.

Memphis Meats

Meat Alternatives

Photo Courtesy of MemphisMeats.com

Launched in 2015, Memphis Meats is a pioneer in clean meat production. They’ve been striving to bring the cost of clean meat production down in order to make it fiscally competitive against natural meats.

In 2016 Memphis created the world’s first cell-based meatball, and in 2017 the world’s first cell-based poultry. In a sign of future expectation, Cargill, Bill Gates, and Richard Branson have all invested in Memphis Meats.

Mosa Meats

Clean Meat

Image courtesy of MosaMeat.com

Creators of the first slaughter-free hamburger in 2013 (at a whopping $330,000), Mosa Meat endeavors to not only create affordable cell-based meats alternatives, but also reduce animal slaughter worldwide. Mosa expects to have its first meats on the market in the next 3-4 years, which would show a remarkably fast increase in efficiency.

The process of development is described as being the same process animals use to create meat, only outside the animal. The cells “naturally” proliferate and do so without the need for additives or GMOs. Not only have they successfully produced muscle fiber, but they’ve also produced fat cells, which we know is extremely important for taste and mouthfeel.

What’s Driving Meat Alternatives?

Many components are driving the want for meat alternatives. Health factors play a large role, both in increasing the amount of vegetables consumed and decreasing the volume of meat consumed. For the clean meat alternatives, environmental and ethical concerns are the largest driving factors. Specifically, the reduction of carbon gas emissions, deforestation, and factory farms utilizing inhumane practices.

Regardless of the motivating factors, meat alternatives will continue to grow in interest and popularity.

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June 3rd, 2019

What’s the Story with Za’atar?

Posted in Consumer Trends, Food Trends, Product Innovation

Za’atar makes waves with vibrant flavors

Za'atar

Za’atar continues to grow aggressively in popularity throughout the country, but it’s still far from well known. Currently early in the adoption stage, za’atar has, however, been featured heavily in culinary and lifestyle magazines.

You can hear all about za’atar in publications like Specialty Food Magazine, Fine Cooking, and even the Boston Globe. But what’s all the fuss about? What makes za’atar so special?

Let’s check it out.

What is Za’atar?

Za’atar is both a Middle Eastern herb that’s very rare and almost never exported (so you likely won’t find any here in the states) and a spice blend. For the purposes of this blog, when we refer to za’atar it’s the spice blend we speak of.

Za'atar

You can find za’atar in dried (most common), oil-based (more common), and fresh (least common) formats in most grocery stores. Za’atar is usually made from a mixture of spices like oregano, marjoram, thyme, sumac, sesame seeds, and salt. There are many different styles, like chimichurri, but some combination of the previously listed ingredients is always present.

What’s it Good With?

This is really what makes za’atar special. Its flavor profile can adapt to lots of different cuisines and applications. It works as a dry rub, marinade, sauce, salad dressing, finishing spice, salsa, snack topping, or pretty much any other application you can imagine.

Its Middle Eastern heritage finds it most commonly applied to items like hummus, lamb, and vegetable salads, but this pigeonholes its versatility. I find za’atar equally delicious on proteins like chicken or tofu, on crackers, cheese, and even fruit like pears and apples.

Za'atar

The point is, za’atar has a friendly, exciting flavor that plays well with many other foods.

How Can I Take Advantage of Za’atar?

Well, that of course depends on what you’re in the business of making. Try chicken wings with spicy za’atar sauce, or a zesty pizza made with za’atar marinara. A citrus za’atar glaze goes great on chicken or pork, or a fire roasted green chile and za’atar smothered bison burger.

Whatever you decide, you can rest assured za’atar will grab the curiosity of your guests with its unique, vibrant blend of flavors.

Cheers!

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