The search for predicted food trends, kitchen shortcuts and new sales strategies correlates with the beginning of a New Year. Foodservice professionals never slow down, especially not during the holidays. Now it’s March and possibly you’re ready to start working on efficiency, new recipes, and boosting check averages. We asked Chef Rob Corliss, a 3x James Beard House guest chef, to provide our readers with helpful kitchen and culinary tips.
Tip #1 – Maximize efficiency by organizing dry food storage by categories – menu categories or 5 tastes categories (salt, sour, sweet, bitter, umami) labeling shelves, grouping similar items together, storing goods in the same location every time, storing most used goods in the most accessible area and following FIFO. For safety, place heaviest goods on lowest shelves.
Tip #2 – Versatility coupled by heat with flavor is the real story behind the mega-success of sriracha. Consumers crave bold flavor with complexity and the American palate demands more than just heat. Leverage these attributes and look for savory-sweet-spicy sauces to be the next big thing!
Tip #3 – A focused slimmed down menu, strategically developed and executed, can address and deliver on the growing consumer demand for variety. The key is to creatively optimize SKU’s/flavors across menu categories, creating bold and diversified menu offerings. Incorporating seasonal flavors and/or LTO’s is another menu strategy to bring perpetual “new news.”
Tip #4 – The key to reducing food costs takes a multi-faceted approach and constant attention. Track and address your cost of goods, food storage, inventory management, prep levels, waste & proper food costing. Optimize menu positioning and pricing by evaluating the stars, dogs and workhorses on your menu, then drive sales!
Tip #5 – Health and indulgence can strategically coexist on a menu, as life is about balance and so is menu development. Consumers now expect it! They are driving the trend towards health/wellness to be elevated to deliver quality, authentic, craveable on-trend flavors. Independents and the fast-casual segment are leading this innovation.
Tip #6 – Trends ebb and flow, but classic comfort foods are always in style because they strike a deeper, nostalgic emotional connection with consumers. Menuing a comfort food as is for retro appeal or staying relevant with an updated regional, global or healthy twist can be a recipe for success.
Tip #7 – The guest experience, value and consistent food quality are integral tools for driving check averages. Additional tactics are bundling, educating FOH staff, training on upselling, competitive pricing structures, menu verbiage, variety with menu price points, maximize and feature beverages, leveraging trends and using seasonal LTOs to generate traffic.
Tip #8 – FLAVOR is what everyone craves! Craveability = understanding + executing the art & science of flavor. Flavor = complementary appeal (visual impact of food, actual & expected temperature, texture contrasts, opposing attractions, emotional connections) + aroma (80% of flavor) + taste (balancing sweet, sour, salty, bitter, umami).
Corliss has over 20 years of experience across multi-disciplines that include running world class resort hotels, launching new restaurant concepts, working in top foodservice marketing agencies and currently owning his own culinary consulting company, ATE – All Things Epicurean http://www.7ate9.biz.
Predicted foodservice trends tell us that consumers want healthier foods and fast. One product that can help chefs satisfy consumer demand is dry salad dressing mix. Dry salad dressing mixes like Ranch, Caesar, 1000 Island and Lido Italian are not just for green salads. Mixes can be used to make robust marinades, gourmet dipping sauces for appetizers, savory spreads for sandwiches, flavor enhancers for potato dishes, and delicate sauces for fruits and melons.
Currently, we are offering a rebate for our Ranch Salad Dressing mixes (V400, V402). The promotion goes through May 31 and offers operators a $2 rebate per case (up to $200) on Ranch Dressing Mix products, plus a FREE first case of Blue Cheese, Lido Italian, 1000 Island/Honey Mustard, and Caesar Dressing Mix when you complete the rebate coupon. If you haven’t tried our V400 Ranch Dressing Mix or our V402 No MSG Ranch Dressing Mix, please leave your contact information below and we’ll send you a sample.
This money-saving offer is available to foodservice operators in the U.S. only. Please visit our webpage for more details on the promotion. The downloadable form can be found at http://doclibrary.com/MFR457/DOC/FoothillFarmsDressingRebate20155452.pdf.
Written by Melissa Caringer, a food and fashion freelance writer www.linkedin.com/in/melissacaringer
As a leader in foodservice manufacturing, it’s our job at Foothill Farms to stay on the forefront of what people crave. So we took a look at which of our products have been flying off the shelves, where the overall industry is moving and what our customers are requesting most. Here are the five trends that bubbled up to the top for this year.
1. Reinventing Ranch
Ranch is the “girl next door” of dressings. Friendly and familiar by day and surprisingly irresistible when prepped for a night out. “Ranch has an incredible opportunity to be redefined and made (or modified) in house. It can be completely reinvented and used to spice up an old favorite or familiarize a new concept,” Jorge Cespedes, research and development chef at Food IQ, told Flavor & The Menu. And it’s not just about taking salads to the next level. An upgraded ranch dressing can be your signature sauce offered on sandwiches, as a pommes frites or kale chip dip, drizzled over soups or as a taco topping.
The possibilities for ranch dressing mix-ins are endless, but going with of-the-moment flavors is an easy way to get noticed. Add some locally grown mint for a refreshing twist, or blend in a superfood like avocado. Give it a hot hit of wasabi or go bold with regional barbecue sauce. Find inspiration and recipes for Curry Ranch, Thai Ranch, Mango Habanero Ranch and more here.
2. Comfort Meets Adventure
Asian and Latin cuisines have trended for years. Why? They infuse a sense of comfort with an invitation to explore. Brothy pho soothes. Slow-cooked carnitas are the epitome of soul food. Meanwhile the exotic marriage of spicy and sweet or smoky and herbaceous lures our palates east and south. In 2015, look for the breakout of Korean, mainstreaming of Vietnamese and upscaling of ramen noodles, according to Technomic. And ever-popular Latin flavors will see in uptick in breakfast offerings, predicts the National Restaurant Association.
It won’t just be ethnic restaurants capitalizing on this love affair with Asian and Latin flavors. They’re hitting the mainstream with huevos rancheros on breakfast menus and ramen nights at corner restaurants. Any operation can get in on this trend with the right sauces and seasonings. Get tips on easily adding Sweet Thai Chili condiments, Mandarin Orange Chicken and more to your menu here and find Charro Beans, Orange Chile Brownies and others here.
3. DIY Health
“What do you have that’s healthy?” Is this person looking for something that’s gluten free? Fat or preservative free? Farm-to-table? Made with whole grains or superfoods? Low sodium or high nutrient? Real food? Today what is considered healthy can vary drastically from person to person. It may be about food they think is good for their bodies or food that makes them feel good about themselves. That’s why 2015 is all about a DIY approach.
According to Food Genius, the better-for-you movement has yet to lose steam and is now being complemented by another Millennial-driven trend: customization. So let diners choose from a variety of offerings that cover one or more health concerns. Some of the dishes you already serve may work perfectly as-is. Just start calling out their benefits on your menu (eg, That mac and cheese is already vegetarian). Another quick way to get (and stay) on the radar of today’s health-conscious guests is using sauces and seasonings like Flavorwise to help meet health concerns without sacrificing flavor.
4. Back to Scratch
Get ready for a sweeping movement back to scratch cooking. It’s all about balancing food and labor costs with preparing home-style dishes back of house. Particularly look for schools to go in this direction as they cut back on reheating processed foods and do more themselves. The challenge will continue to be labor restraints.
There are various schools of thought on overcoming this challenge. Some believe that it’s about investing in new equipment. Others, like the principal of Food Systems Solutions LLC Kate Adamick, say “Most school district food service departments don’t need a bigger labor force to return to scratch-cooking, they need a better trained labor force.” Some combination of equipment, labor, training and the right products is likely where the sweet spot lies. Check out Foothill Farms sauces and seasonings to quickly and affordably transform whole foods into mouthwatering, scratch-made dishes.
5. Think Small
From tapas to dim sum, small plates are still big news. Diners will continue to order them instead of entrées this year, making their meals three plates instead of one. The low-commitment, high-flavor bites satisfy cravings for variety and create a social, sharing experience. They also allow chefs to stretch their legs and dabble in a variety of global flavor palettes.
One innate challenge of small plates is that the variety of menu options may mean a need for additional prep and ingredient storage areas. Depending on the complexity of the dishes, more staff may be required too. That’s why sauces and seasonings that bring a big dose of flavor to small plates with little prep or storage will be your best friend in 2015. For small plate ideas, click here.
Melissa is a food and fashion freelance writer currently based in Milwaukee, WI. Since 1998, she has written about up-and-coming food trends, shadowed chefs, participated in focus groups and tasted her way across the country in search of the best bites. If you have a question for Melissa or Foothill Farms, please leave us a comment below.
Tags: farm-to-table, Flavorwise, Food IQ, Food Systems Solutions, food trends, foodservice, Foothill Farms, gluten-free, healthy eating, high nutrient, low sodium, Melissa Caringer, millennial, preservative free, ranch dressing, restaurant menu, sauces, scratch cooking, seasonings, small plates, superfood, Technomic, whole grain
We are privileged to have Karen J. Peterson, SNS (School Nutrition Specialist) provide our readers with helpful tips to lessen the frustration and challenges commonly faced in K-5 kitchens. Karen is a 25 + year veteran of the foodservice industry. She is currently serving as founder and president of Lunchline, Inc. a company dedicated to the K-12 market channel.
Tip #1 – Sometimes K-5 students need encouragement to eat their veggies! There are always the perennial favorites: ranch dressing, salsa and hummus. But how about some fun? Broccoli easily transforms into baby trees or dinosaur food and cauliflower becomes brains – PERFECT for Halloween!
Tip #2 – Picky eaters are a real concern in foodservice. After all, it attributes to less kids buying school lunch and/or throwing much of the lunch away and going hungry for the remainder of the day. Trying new foods needs to be about nutritional benefits. Associate fun symbols with foods so kids will understand why they need to eat them – calcium for stronger bones, beta-carotene essential for vision, fiber for digestive health, and lower sodium for a healthy heart.
Karen holds an M.A. in Organizational Leadership from College of St. Catherine in St. Paul, Minnesota and a B.S. in Foods and Nutrition from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota. She has also earned her SNS (School Nutrition Specialist) credential from SNA. If you have a question for Karen or Foothill Farms, please leave us a comment and we’ll get back with you soon.
A guest blog by Hailey, a millennial
First of all, what is a millennial? This generation is comprised of 20 and 30-somethings born during the 1980’s and 90’s. They are one of the largest demographic groups since Baby Boomers. It is reported in a UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School journal article that 36% of the current workforce are millennials and that this population segment is expected to grow to 46% by the year 2020. The foodservice industry needs to find more ways to stay connected and attract this generation. As a fellow millennial, I know something about what it takes to grab their attention. Here are four strategies of how foodservice can appeal to our critical generation.
To start off, brands need to think of what millennials do day-to-day. We are always on social media. All day, every day, we have easy access to brands, which is very important to us. It’s key for a brand to have a social presence, such as Twitter, YouTube and/or Instagram, if you want us to give any consideration to buying your product.
Next, a brand must have a responsive web site; it must be mobile-friendly. We use our cell phones to look everything up rather than a computer. Accessing information easily is what millennials are all about.
Third, a key to advertising and reaching millennials is having someone of similar age do the talking. We like to hear from our own generation because we can relate to them: we have similar interests, viewpoints, and are more likely to trust what they are saying. But what if you are not a millennial? I have a suggestion to overcome this. Remember, we like to do things differently from other generations. Embrace modern methods of communication that are second nature to us like text messaging, video chat, or even email rather than a phone call. If you communicate in a way that is most comfortable to me, you’re more likely to earn a repeat customer because you put me at ease and you get me.
Lastly, when opening a menu what’s the first thing you notice? The picture! It’s the first thing that everyone notices; millennials like things with a modern, clean design not drab and old. Think about this when designing menus, logos or showing us sales information. Does your brand image need to be updated?
Technomic’s article, “Understanding the Foodservice Attitudes and Behaviors of Millennials”, emphasizes the size, spending power and high foodservice patronage of this generation when compared to any other generational group. Millennials like information, the challenge is getting the information to appeal to us. We are a generation shaped by technology. And we are influencers.
About our Guest Blogger
Hailey is a college student from Missouri. She just finished her first semester and plans on a career in health or business. We asked her, as a Millennial, to provide perspective on what is important to them and how to be successful in selling to this generation. If you have a question for Hailey, leave a reply below.
The new look of Foothill Farms® products will help keep your dry storage in your commercial kitchen organized in delicious ways. Red and green will be popping up in foodservice commercial kitchens everywhere. Some Foothill Farms products will feature a bold red band for traditional offerings or an easily distinguishable bright green band indicating the trademarked Flavorwise™ healthier options. A Flavorwise label means products have 310 mg of sodium or less per serving, fat free or low fat, have 0g trans fat and contain no cholesterol or added MSG. In addition, both packages will have highly visible identifiers, such as “gluten-free,” “fat free,” or “no MSG” as special markers on the packages in efforts to provide customers with information to help them make informed choices about the products they purchase and serve to their customers.
Inside the new packaging, are the same quality ingredients which have helped commercial kitchens embrace speed-scratch concepts to prepare delicious, consistent results time after time. Our endeavors to create an easily identifiable packaging system mirrors the concept of the actual products themselves, providing foodservice solutions to commercial kitchens.
The evolution of our new packaging streamlines the consolidation of two former brands, TUF® and Milani®, now simply under the Foothill Farms umbrella of products. This merging has nearly tripled the amount of Foothill Farms mixes which encompass salad dressings, seasonings, gravies, cheese sauces, and desserts to name a few. The new packaging will be phased in gradually.
So whether you are reaching for Foothill Farms® Ranch dressing or a Flavorwise Chili Seasoning Mix, the right product will always be at hand. Our mission is to help simplify your commercial kitchen and your dry storage with quality easy-to-organize products. Red or green, the choice is sure to make a flavorful dish!
There will always be room on the menu for hot dogs with the traditional ketchup and mustard toppings. Imagine turning everyday beef hot dogs into extraordinary “haute” dogs with the addition of ingredients like a wide variety of cheese sauces, roasted poblano chiles, fried okra, or roasted purple cabbage, to name just a few.
Let’s start with a few soon-to-be favorites like the Carolina Dog and the Philly Dog. The Carolina Dog features pulled pork, sautéed onions, fried okra, and Carolina Cheese Sauce made with Foothill Farms® Cheese Sauce Instant Mix. Using the same cheese sauce instant mix, take a quick trip to Philadelphia for a Philly Dog loaded with cheese sauce, sautéed peppers, onions, and hot sauce. Why not add a “steak roll” bun to complete the Philadelphia experience? Our dry mix cheese sauces keep the preparation and execution of recipes easy, while still allowing an endless variety of tempting recipes.
Feeling like spicing up the hot dog menu a little? Heat things up a bit with our Chipotle Dog with its roasted pablano chiles, red onion, and chipotle cheddar sauce made with Extra Sharp Cheese Sauce Instant Mix. You can also prepare the Mariachi Dog with the same extra sharp cheese sauce, adding chili con queso to the recipe to keep this dog dancing with flavor. Using the same dry mix base helps keep the menu versatile while keeping tabs on cost control, which is something every foodservice operator can appreciate.
Change mac & cheese from just a side dish to a new hot dog sensation with the Blues Dog featuring blue cheese cheddar sauce made with Three Cheese Mac & Cheese Sauce Instant Mix, blue cheese and bacon. Using the same mix with perhaps a younger diner in mind, make our simple, yet delicious twist on traditional macaroni and cheese via the Mac & Cheese dog. Two simple concepts combine: hot dogs and delicious mac & cheese!
Now that you have turned your hot dogs into something special with different toppings ideas and cheese sauces, why not do the same for your burger menu? “Haute” burgers, anyone? All of these recipes can be used for your burger menu, too and were pulled from our 18 Haute Builds For Hot Dogs flyer. Foothill Farms® offers the cheese sauce products and recipes to turn the everyday dog into an unexpected culinary delight. Whether your menu is sweet, spicy, cheesy, light or hearty, there is a “haute” dog for the occasion and a cheese sauce that steps up the recipe.
You have grown up but has your “Mac & Cheese”? Macaroni and cheese is thought to have been around since before 1769, according to an article by SmithsonianMag.com. From its simplest form as plain macaroni noodles coated in melted American cheese to the introduction of additional ingredients, “Mac & Cheese” is still a staple on U.S. menus.
For chefs, creating a signature macaroni and cheese menu item can be intimidating because of its known popularity and strict critics, some of which are under 10! The sauce consistency is important – not too thick and not too thin. Some desire a mellow flavor while others like to taste something unique. Our Three Cheese Mac and Cheese Sauce mix was designed to give those wanting to stay the course a delicious, satisfyingly simple pasta dish. For those ready to indulge, adding extra ingredients like bacon, vegetables, varieties of grated cheeses, and using a different sauce can turn a simple Mac & Cheese dish into a rich memorable experience. A perfect example is Lobster Mac & Cheese. It incorporates chunked lobster meat, béchamel sauce and white cheddar to make a luscious sauce that combines with your choice of pasta noodles and bakes with a Caesar bread crumb topping.
Macaroni and cheese doesn’t have to stay in the bowl! Some chefs are beginning to experiment with this 2 ½ century old staple. Traditionally, bread is served alongside pasta but what about serving pasta between bread? Our Chef Martin has created a recipe that does just that – Alfredo Pepperoni Mac ‘N Grilled Cheese! The recipe starts with an Alfredo based macaroni and cheese and incorporates spicy pepperoni that is placed between two slices of Texas toast and griddled until golden brown. The results are nothing short of outstanding!
Don’t forget the newest hot trend – Sriracha sauce! The benefit of using a dry mix is that you can easily kick up a sauce mix by adding extra ingredients like steak sauce, hot sauce, and BBQ sauce. In fact, a signature version of “Mac & Cheese” can be made using any of our unique cheese sauces recipes: Cheddar Cheese Steak Sauce, Chipotle Cheddar, KC, or Memphis Cheese Sauce to name a few.
With a little imagination and some simple ingredients, you can create unique recipes for macaroni and cheese that appeals to every appetite. What do you think about Mac, Cheese & Waffles?
Don’t miss out on our newest foodservice rebate. From October 1 until December 31, 2014 we are offering $5 off each case of gravy or stuffing mix up to $200. With cooler temperatures and holiday dining rapidly upon us, it’s time to start stocking up on these comfort food items. Remember, Foothill Farms® dry mixes are shelf-stable for one year. There is no refrigeration required, so there is no need to worry about food waste. Simply mix with water when ready. Check out our newest mixing videos on YouTube.
A few of our gravy mixes are even sodium conscious, containing 220mg of sodium per serving or less. These mixes fall into our Flavorwise™ product line are especially helpful to K-12 schools as well as healthcare facilities.
Twenty gravy and stuffing products qualify for the rebate. Simply submit a rebate coupon with a copy of the distributor invoice or electronically generated proof of purchase. Your request must be postmarked by January 1, 2015. This foodservice rebate is only available to operators. Distributors, contract customers, purchasing groups, cash and carry, and bid accounts cannot participate. Chains and affiliated groups must participate as single units. Also, this offer is limited to USA foodservice operators only and cannot be combined with other rebates.
We hope this helps you get started stocking up on gravies and stuffings. Foothill Farms understands this time of year requires careful planning for fall/winter menus and preparing for heavy traffic during the holiday season. Our gravies and stuffings are great additions to any foodservice kitchen’s operation. We would love to help you get started by sampling our products. Please comment on this blog or reach out to us via our contact page. We want to make sure that every chef and foodservice director has tried our products.
Finding the right mix between eating healthy and indulging in rich, calorie-laden dishes can be a tough balancing act. Consumers desire flavorful and satisfying dishes but also want those meals to keep them on the right track nutritionally. What’s a foodservice provider to do? In tennis, players aim for the sweet spot on the racket. In foodservice, we can do the same! The sweet spot on a plate is the place where flavor and nutritional elements combine to make a harmonious blend of great taste and healthy ingredients. Achieving both culinary goals will keep your customers fulfilled and coming back again.
One of the ways to keep indulgence on the menu is by enhancing nutritional food items like vegetables or whole grain rice and pastas with pops of flavor. Specifically, pumping up the flavor with cheesy goodness! Adding an element of creamy cheese sauce elevates “just healthy” to “now we’re talking”! Try whole wheat pasta topped with Three Cheese Mac & Cheese sauce. A perfect example of yummy nutrition. Whole wheat goodness and smooth cheese sauce combine to provide a vehicle for nutritious elements, perhaps by also adding sautéed vegetables or a protein such as chicken or tuna.
When talking about healthy indulgence, let’s talk sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes are very high in Vitamin A and B12. In addition, sweet potatoes provide some additional health benefits like regulating blood sugar, providing magnesium which helps lower stress levels, and aiding digestion with the fiber it provides. What’s the best thing about sweet potatoes? They make great fries, either cooked in light oil, baked as fries, or served baked like a traditional potato. The indulgent part of this dish is Cheddar Cheese Steak Sauce served on the side for dipping fries or topping a baked sweet potato. The rich undertones of steak sauce blends well with the cheddar cheese sauce creating a delicious match for sweet potatoes.
Dipping healthy items such as sliced vegetables and baked chips in Pepper Jack Queso is a great way to serve a nutritious side dish, or perhaps even an appetizer. Baked chips are a great bang for the buck, flavor wise and health wise, and are extra satisfying with this spicy, creamy cheese sauce dip. Zucchini strips, sliced carrots, diced yellow and red peppers are all improved with a cheese flavor boost and serving it on the side keeps the guest in charge of portion control.
Wanting a main dish featuring a vegetable your guests will love? Roasted Cauliflower Steaks which are made by slicing the vegetable head in half, quickly searing, and then roasting in the oven with seasonings is a unique dish that keeps health in mind, deliciously. Served with a blue cheese sauce, this dish has a rich flavor that is still indulgent with a blue cheese exclamation mark. Of course, raw or cooked cauliflower is always healthy and indulgent with a cheddar cheese sauce topper: another great option for healthier fare. There is no limit to that application: green beans, broccoli, asparagus, or practically any other vegetable you can think of is improved by cheese sauce. And for every vegetable you can think of, there is a variation of cheese sauce to match your mood.
Keeping your menu healthy and indulgent at the same time is critical to today’s food consumers who are very interested in making good food choices. Keeping that balance has never been easier with so many options available to prepare nutritious and tasty fare. Go for the sweet spot on the plate and the results will set your dish above “just” healthy to “wonderfully” healthy.