March 1st, 2020

Superb Street Food Snacks

Posted in Food Trends, Trailer/Street Foods

Street Food 2.0 is Cutting Loose on Menus

New Street Food

We’re no strangers to the love of global street foods here. It’s been a popular topic on our blog for quite some time. But it looks like we may be seeing the next evolution of street food taking place right before our eyes.

American street food is becoming an amalgamation of global flavors and influences with one set purpose, to be delicious. Chefs across the country are scorning the standards to create new blends of flavors, textures, and influences into amazing small bites that change the way we perceive street food.

Let’s see how some restaurants are adapting their menus to include new-era street foods.

Street Food Pockets

Street Food Empanadas

One of the most common types of street foods globally are food pockets. They go by lots of names like buns, dumplings, pirozhki, or calzones, but equal essentially the same thing: A flavorful filling enclosed inside a pocket of dough. Hopefully served with a delicious dipping sauce (because who doesn’t love dipping?!). The universality of this item plays directly into the creative nature of street food, and restaurants are taking notice.

Recently, Fogo de Chão has realized how to maximize this trend on their bar menu. Aside from the all-you-can-eat meat style of dining, you can opt for drinks and small bites at the bar, which includes their new empanadas. Made with flaky pastry and Picanha beef, these delicious morsels are served with a side of spicy chimichurri dipping sauce.

Conversely, the fast casual Indian chain Curry Up Now has found a growing market for their mouth-watering Street Food menu, especially the samosas. These are packed with curried potatoes and/or lamb and served with aromatic chutneys for dipping.

For the Love of the Spud

Street Food Tater Tots

Potatoes are back on trend (if they ever really left)! But it looks like we’re moving past French fries and into a whole new world of starchy deliciousness.

The Tot-Chos at the Rabbit Hole in Normal Heights, CA tops this list due to their over-the-top execution. A single order contains a combo of tortilla chips, wonton chips, tater tots, jalapeño cheese, cotija, Pico de Gallo, salsa roja, cilantro crema, and scallions. No words, I need a poet…

Curry Up Now also hit this mark with the launch of their Vada Pav. This is a mashed potato fritter sandwiched between an amul buttered bun with garlic chutney and Bombay dust. Also, the ever-creative Velvet Taco found a place for potatoes on their Picnic Chicken street taco. This features rotisserie chicken, avocado crema, warm honey-Dijon potato salad, crispy chicken skin, and cilantro on a flour tortilla. Oh, and don’t forget they also serve tots.

Tongue Thai’d

Thai Street Food

Atlanta’s Tuk Tuk Thai Food Loft is showing the beauty of re-imagined Thai street food to hundreds of guests every day. People line up for the fried chicken drumsticks served with Thai 3-chile sauce. You can also order Thai-style samosas made with flaky rice paper and sweet chile sauce, or an order of Bangkok street noodles made with an assortment of chile sauces and fresh vegetables.

Dee Dee Thai in Austin, TX knows their way around next level street food as well. The Moo Ping is a pair of sweet and savory pork skewers marinated in special sauce for 48 hours and served with a small side of sticky rice and spicy dipping sauce. Or really go experimental with the Som Tom Isaan, a pungent, funky, and very spicy papaya salad made house fermented fish sauce and salted crab shell.

See You on the Streets!

So to speak. At least, with a mouth full of modern street food. These new trends are sure to launch more concepts and ideas. We’ll be here to cover them when they appear. Until then, happy eating!

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February 3rd, 2020

All Hail the Gastropub

Posted in Consumer Trends, Food Trends, Gastro-Pub

2020 Looks to be the Year of the Gastropub

Gastropub

On a previous blog we discussed the Fastest Growing Restaurant Concepts in America, one of which being the gastropub (or brewpub). Here we are now in 2020, and it looks as if gastropubs are still on track to be one of, if not the, fastest growing concepts.

While this is all well and good, I really wanted to know why America has such a fascination with the gastropub. Sure, they offer food and drink, much like most bars and restaurants. They also promote hearty socialization and interaction, but that’s not uncommon in the F&B industry either. So why do we love them so much? The answer, I believe, lies in the menu.

The Best Gastropubs in the U.S.

Recently, USA Today released its list of the Reader’s Choice 10 Best Brewpubs in the U.S. These brewpubs span the country from San Diego to Maine, and Chicago to Colorado. What this gives us is a terrific cross-section of guests voting on what are essentially their favorite foods.

So, I thought it would be prudent to review the menus from all these award-winning gastropubs and see what they have in common (aside from beer). The answer? Quite a bit.

Trends

Gastropub food

All the brewpubs that made the 10 Best list are covering multiple food trends, many of which we’ve covered right here on our blog. From smoke & BBQ, to decadent poutines, and a ubiquitous inclusion of Asian flavors and flatbreads. The trends drive the menus, which in turn bring the guests.

The chef-driven style and flavor impartiality of these establishments showcase a unique ability to change with, and even drive, food trends. Customers of gastropubs tend to be willing to take more risks, try new foods, and be curious about things they haven’t had before. If that wasn’t their nature, they wouldn’t be going to a place brewing their own unique, small-batch brewed beers.

Bold Flavors

So, we see up-to-date trends represented with unapologetic bounty in gastropubs, but as we know, that doesn’t matter if the food is bland or dull. That’s the next common trait for these eateries: big, bold flavors.

Across the menus you’ll find items like Gastropub TrendsFresno chili sauce, beer-based BBQ sauces, bulgogi, gochujang, smoked buffalo, and Nashville hot sauce. These come in a variety of applications such as flatbreads, sandwiches, salads, wraps, wings, fries, vegetables, and others.

The point is this, brewpubs are using powerful flavors, often by way of sauces, to deliver unique and captivating dishes to their guests. It seems to be working, otherwise we wouldn’t be talking about this steady rise in popularity.

Personally, I’m dying to try the beer-brined house-smoked wings slathered in beer BBQ sauce at 18th Street Brewery.

Kids Menus

Gastropub food

Image courtesy of ptaourchildren.org

Yes, I know this seems out of left field, but actually, I think it’s quite telling. While gastropubs may be craft beer-driven, they’re also positioning themselves as family-focused eateries.

This recognition of the younger crowd certainly allows more flexibility for patrons. The destruction of the brewpub’s “bar” stigma means they have become acceptable for family-dining. This opens access to a broader demographic of parents with children to patronize the gastropub without needing a babysitter.

Also, these kids’ menus are not just afterthoughts. They are well-thought out with familiar items like grilled cheese sandwiches, chicken tenders, and quesadillas, but elevated with items like pulled pork, brioche buns, and house-made mustard. Even kids are getting a it more experimental these days, but let’s hold off on the heirloom tomato aspic for now.

Gastropubs, the New Home of Innovation

There’s no doubt in my mind gastropubs will continue to rise in popularity over 2020. Their creativity, trend-focused execution, and welcoming atmosphere make them a perfect venue for guests of all ages and backgrounds.

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January 20th, 2020

2019 Food Trends: A Review

Posted in Consumer Trends, Food Trends, Product Innovation

Use the 2019 Food Trends to Anticipate the Future

2019 Food Trends

We had a lot of fun monitoring the 2019 food trends. Everything from AI technology to Aji Amarillo hit the scene this last year, and boy was it a fun ride.

But now that we’re heading into 2020, it’s a good idea to look back on some of the past trends to see how they may influence this year. So, let’s do a quick review and discuss what we can expect in the new year.

2019 Food Trends

Smoke & BBQ

2019 Food Trends BBQ

Smoke flavors and BBQ dominated lots of national restaurant menus in 2019. From smoky brisket sandwiches to wood smoked and grilled chicken wings, the influence was widespread.

I expect to see the concept of chile-based and uniquely flavored BBQ sauces (like chocolate and mustard) continue to grow, along with Asian inspired BBQ sauces using chili-pastes and fermented flavors.

But also keep a look out for new types of smoke or smoked items other than meat. For example, maple smoked carrots, or mulberry smoked fish with rich BBQ glaze. Proteins aren’t the only items made better with smoke, and there’s no doubt diners are going to notice.

Chiles

We have just scratched the surface on what we can do with flavorful chiles. Fried, grilled, smoked, dried, we’re trying all of the methods to produce new flavors and extraordinary tasting experiences.

Flavorful Chiles

But while we’ve seen a big trend in extremely hot foods (i.e. Nashville Hot Chicken, and Carolina Reapers), the trend of chiles for flavor, more than heat, has been creeping up.

Expect to see more sauces and builds made using unique chiles, not necessarily for heat, but for flavor. Chiltepin chiles offer bold smoky notes, and their heat can be moderated by removing stems and seeds. The Costeno Rojo chile is quite nutty while Urfa Biber chiles provide and tobacco-like flavor that is sure to be new to most palates.

Meat Alternatives

Meat alternatives were huge in 2019. Brands like Impossible and Beyond Meat made an indelible mark in restaurants, food service, and retail, with dozens of competitors biting at their heels.

With this trend came a wave of thoughtfulness when it comes to food, not just in the ethics of its development, but the actual impact it has on our environment.

2019 Food Trends: Restaurant Greenhouses

Come 2020 expect to see a big push for “eco-friendly’ foods, and even eco-themed diners, serving sustainable menus. Beyond meat alternatives, this concept will focus on developing entire menus out of low-impact foods and hyper-local (i.e. grown in-store) produce. It’s a unique idea that has the potential of being one of the biggest trends of 2020.

Alright 2020, We’re Ready for You!

And we can’t wait to see what unpredictable trends are in store for us. Be sure to stay tuned to find out what’s next in food and flavors.

Cheers!

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January 6th, 2020

The Flatbread Frenzy Shows Flavorful Opportunities

Posted in Food Trends, Trends

Look to Flatbreads for Inspiration!

Italian Flatbread

Thanks to their convenience, portability, and flexibility, flatbreads have shown a strong popularity in 2019 that’s bound to sustain well past 2020. Flatbreads are the perfect vehicles for a variety of flavors and textures and lend easily to experimentation.

Also, they are a great platform for seasonal items and LTOs. They’re a great way to use up extra ingredients and can be sold at a price point that makes further out ideas more approachable for wary customers.

How Flatbreads Can Work for You

Variety

The first thing to consider with flatbreads is the variety of types you can make. Traditional wheat flatbreads are great for Italian and Mediterranean concepts, while a masa flatbread is perfect for Latin inspiration. Try a flaky paratha-style flatbread for Indian flavors or a Bao flatbread for unique Asian ideas.

Indian Flatbread

This, of course, is only a glance at what can be done with flatbread. From here you can infuse flavors like chile or sesame, or play with coloring agents like beets, annatto, turmeric, or activated charcoal.

FormFolded Flatbread Sandwich

“But it’s flat, right?”

Not so fast. Flatbreads can be more than just their namesake. Consider rolling your flatbreads to make a wrap or gyro. A little creativity and you’ll have yourself a pide. Try a folded sandwich for an easy twist on classic favorites.

 

Shapes play a role here as well. Flatbreads can be rectangle, square, oval, circular, or torpedo-like. Heck, make a triangle if it pleases you. The point is you have a vehicle for imagination and creation that will drive your customers curiosity.

Toppings

And here’s where flatbreads shine.

Now that you’ve played with variety and form, you can have a field day with sauces, toppings, and fillings. Consider classic Mediterranean favorites like lamb gyro with garlic tzatziki and spicy harissa sauce, or a Korean flavor bomb made with spicy gochujang sauce, ground pork, and pickled vegetables.

https://www.burkecorp.com/menu-ideas/spicy-asian-beef-pizza/

Image courtesy of burkecorp.com

There’s always room for Italian favorites like chicken parmigiana, but try modernizing it with a crispy shallot breading and a fire roasted arrabiata sauce. Or double down on trends by doing a smoked brisket flatbread with ancho chile BBQ sauce and vinegar slaw.

Flatbreads Are Anything but Flat

And now’s your chance to make your menu anything but flat, too. Let the fun and flavors fly when you play with your flatbread concepts and be sure to stay on top of the trends to keep them current. We’ll be here letting you know what’s popular.

Cheers!

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December 23rd, 2019

Spice Up Your Menu with Flavorful Sauces

Posted in New Foods and Flavors, Sauce

Flavorful Sauces Can Easily Upgrade Your Menu

Flavorful Sauces

Flavorful sauces could be the key you’re looking for to unlock the higher potential of your menu.

Restaurants are constantly changing and evolving to keep up with trends and consumer preferences. Not only can this process be tough to follow, it can also be expensive and exhausting. There is only a finite amount of ingredients any restaurant can maintain without being smote by the gods of waste and cross-utilization.

So how can almost any restaurant flex with the times without constantly adding new SKUs? Easy, with sauces.

Sauces are the perfect flavor driver for almost any style of restaurant. Whether you operate an all-American bar & grill, an Asian-fusion bistro, or a Spanish tapas restaurant, you can find a sauce that will make the ordinary extraordinary.

Let’s look at some ways you can upgrade your plates using flavorful sauces.

Direct Application

Flavorful Italian Sauces

This is the most obvious option. You can simply add sauces to existing menu items. Got a burger on your menu that’s just not quite driving sales? Amp it up with creamy pepper jack cheese, spicy harissa sauce, and crisp bacon. Want to put a holiday twist on your best-selling burrito? Smother it with a trio of bright green chile, creamy queso blanco, and piquant red guajillo chile sauces. Is your lasagna a little flat (pun-intended) under that classic tomato sauce?  Bolster it with a smoky marinara sauce made with charred tomatoes and caramelized onions.

You see where I’m going with this. There are hundreds of sauces available that you can immediately add to your menu for a delicious enhancement.

As an Ingredient

Mexican Salsas

Now that you’ve got a new sauce on your menu, it’s time to start experimenting with it. You know that harissa sauce we mentioned above? Blend it with mayonnaise for a decadent aioli for blackened chicken, then add some lime juice for a salad dressing. Blend that smoky tomato sauce with your house Alfredo for a craveable “pink pasta” sauce. You can add sour cream and cilantro to the green or red chile sauces for an outrageously good torta spread.

And these are just the sauces mentioned. Think of what you could do with umami-blasted Korean gochujang, spicy buffalo, or bourbon BBQ sauces.

Other Uses

Flavorful Asian Sauces

This just scratches the surface. You can add ingredients like sautéed mushrooms, roasted garlic, charred peppers, citrus peel, miso, and others to your sauces to change them up. Try adding your sauces to stocks or soups for flavor bombs. include them as dipping sauces on appetizers or add them to slaw to make it new and exciting again. Use your imagination and don’t hesitate to experiment.

Now Go Get Saucy!

Hopefully you’ve found some new menu item inspiration here. Be sure to leave a comment below letting us know your favorite sauce ideas or ask questions on how to make something old new again. We’d love to help!

Cheers!

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December 9th, 2019

New Menu Items for 2019 End of Year

Posted in New Foods and Flavors, Product Innovation, Restaurants

Chicken Reigns Supreme New Menu Items

Back in September we took a look at some of the hot new menu items hitting plates nationally. This included items like smoked chicken wings, bottomless shrimp with a trio of sauces, and a smoked brisket sandwich with tangy BBQ sauce. So, needless to say, smokiness was on trend.

But here we are in the second week of December and we haven’t discussed what’s been released for the end of the year. I suppose we need to remedy that.

So, let’s look at what restaurants will do to drive sales and close out 2019 strong. I’ll give you a hint, cluck cluck.

New Menu Items

Buffalo Wild Wings

New Menu Items 2019 BWWs

Photo courtesy of inspirebrands.com

BWWs is looking to bulk up its craveability with the release of their newly formulated boneless wings. The wings are made of larger pieces of marinated breast meat and feature a new, lighter breading.

Additionally, BWWs is looking to harness some of their past glory with the release of their reformulated Buffalo Sauce, making it more like the recipe originally introduced in 1982. I can’t wait to try it.

Corner Bakery

New Menu items 2019

Photo courtesy of restaurantnews.com

Dallas, TX based Corner Bakery is going full carb load for the holiday season, putting their money on turned up Italian fare. The new Rustic Italian Panini features ham, pepperoni, provolone, roasted tomatoes, and a Calabrian chile spread.

If spicy isn’t your thing, go for the Chicken Rosa Pasta. This features cavatappi pasta, grilled chicken, savory Parmesan cheese, roasted tomatoes, and a rich tomato cream sauce. Might as well indulge now before looking your New Year’s Resolution in the eye.

Del Taco

2019 New Menu Items

Photo courtesy of Forbes.com

The folks at Del Taco are piquing my attention with one of my favorite foods of all time: Tamales. These new masa miracles are stuffed with shredded pork blended with a roasted tomato salsa and are served plain or smothered with your choice of red and green salsas, or chili cheese.

I don’t see how you could go wrong either way, so best to just play it safe and try them all.

El Pollo Loco

4th Quarter 2019 Menu Items

Photo courtesy of elpolloloco.com

Not to be outdone by Del Taco, El Pollo Loco is also going after the tamale spotlight. However, they are pairing their chicken tamales with various pieces of their famous flame grilled chicken, rice, pinto beans, and a smothering of red chile sauce.

Additionally, check out their unique Mexican hot chocolate made with cinnamon and vanilla. Sounds like a great way to warm the bones during the winter weather.

Zaxby’s

New Menu Items

Photo courtesy of zaxbys.com

Our last restaurant on the list is one I don’t get to mention often, Zaxby’s. The gem of Georgia fried chicken is stepping into the smoky trend with a pair of new items: The Southwest Chipotle and Smokehouse Cheddar BBQ chicken sandwiches.

This is a good sign for Zaxby’s fans, as this marks a great step in staying current with national flavor trends.

Time to Grub!

I don’t know about you, but all these 2019 new menu items have really riled up my appetite. It’s a good thing I’ll be traveling during the holidays, plenty of excuses to try some new foods.

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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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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