With its focus on salads, wraps and smoothies, Freshii customers consider the healthy fast casual more of a lunch destination, says Andie Shapira, in-house nutritionist for the 200-unit concept. To beef up the menu and attract dinner traffic, Freshii debuted Turkey Sriracha Chili in late October as a seasonal special. It piggybacks on the success of last fall’s chicken chili—the most popular menu item during that quarter, says Shapira.
Sourcing a new protein
For a twist on an already successful dish, the culinary team replaced the chicken with a comparable lean protein, a draw for Freshii’s health-conscious customers. They chose a pulled turkey product, instead of ground, that comes into each unit cooked and shredded; it then is steamed to order. “We plan to cross-utilize the turkey in wraps, salads and other applications,” says Shapira.
A bed of vegetables
Freshii’s vegan chili base is the starting point for the new LTO. It’s a combination of chickpeas, black beans, pinto beans, corn and carrots flavored with onions and green pepper. To finish it off, the kitchen team adds a scratch-made tomato-chili sauce spiced with Sriracha, jalapenos, cilantro and garlic.
Turning down the heat
Sriracha is in the chili’s name because guests relate to it as an ingredient that packs a punch, says Shapira. “We wanted them to know there was some nice spice in the dish, but we played around to get the heat level right. During tests, my mouth was on fire.” The chili was toned down for broader appeal, but diners can add more Sriracha from bottles on the table.
The Lighter side
Guests can order the turkey chili over brown rice or a romaine salad. “In response to demand, we are offering a lighter salad option this year,” says Shapira. To complement the salad and mellow the chili, Freshii also introduced a housemade ranch dressing based on Greek yogurt.
Pulled turkey will be featured in a new catering item for the holiday season, the Turkey Cranberry Group Salad.
Some of the more senior members of the team smile at the junior staff who are excited to uncover an interesting trend in “eatertainment” or the latest single-ingredient concept. We try not to be condescending when we suggest they do some research by looking at past issues of Restaurant Business or old Technomic top chain reports before calling it the next big thing.