Today, flavor plays a big part in differentiation. Any foodservice operation that wants to distinguish itself from “the place down the street” needs to come up with flavors that are distinctive, delicious and on-trend. Patrons – particularly the highly desired younger generations – are constantly in search for new flavor experiences.
Many operators are finding that an easy way to give customers flavor they can’t get anywhere else is to customize accompaniments such as sauces, spreads and condiments. Not only can these additions provide a point of differentiation—they also can help drive a higher price point for a wide variety of menu items.
While sandwiches, burgers, salads and even breakfast items are all prime territory for more culinary adventure, even ordinary French fries are ready to be dressed up. According to Technomic’s MenuMonitor database, menu mentions of “loaded” fries grew by 12.5 percent and poutine is up 22 percent over the past two years.
And these customized accompaniments are definitely on trend. In the National Restaurant Association’s “What Hot 2016 Culinary Forecast” survey, house-made condiments placed third in the “other ingredients” category.
Here’s a look at how some foodservice operators are adding value and excitement to their dishes with flavorful house-made additions:
- The Catalyst Restaurant, a casual American concept in Cambridge, Massachusetts, accompanies its lunch sandwiches with aiolis, including sriracha and avocado varieties. A smoked paprika aioli is an important part of the Mexican corn salad esquites, served as a dinner side.
- Celebrity chef Tom Colicchio’s ‘wichcraft sandwich chain features sandwich spreads that are as trendy as the rest of the menu. A hummus sandwich is accented by a mint pesto; the Cuban sandwich is spread with the green chile sauce aji verde and a kale pesto takes a grilled cheese sandwich out of the ordinary.
- The seven-unit Florida-based Burger & Beer Joint specializes in “massive burgers with a gourmet twist.” The chain adds flavor excitement to its burger menu with 15 sauce choices, including cilantro sour cream, tarragon remoulade and spicy garlic mayonnaise.
- Perhaps the ultimate in condiment customization can be found at the Vesta Dipping Grill in Denver, where each entrée on the dinner menu comes with two suggested sauce pairings. But for those who want to take customization to the next level, there are no less than 20 sauces to choose from. The sauces run the gamut of flavor profiles, from jalapeño remoulade to peanut sauce to black pepper aioli.
This post is sponsored by Minor’s®