To maintain its edge in the competitive breakfast-and-lunch segment, the R&D team at First Watch makes frequent “market exploration tours,” says corporate chef Shane Schaibly. “Chilaquiles is a dish we continued to see in places like Chicago and New York, showing us that it wasn’t just a West Coast thing,” he says. In Mexico City, chilaquiles evolved into a popular hangover cure; the grease and spice soak up and sweat out alcohol, imbibers believe. To lighten the recipe for First Watch’s more mainstream, health-minded customers, Schaibly cut the fat and added fresher ingredients—many of which already were in-house. “When we tested our version, it became the best-selling LTO, and it has remained in that spot since it rolled out nationwide,” he says. Easy execution won over operators, too, Schaibly adds. And the timing is right—the 2016 National Restaurant Association culinary forecast cited ethnic-inspired breakfast items as the top breakfast/brunch trend.
The traditional recipe features fried and quartered tortillas smothered in crema and melted cheese, often with refried beans and chorizo on top. Instead of frying tortillas in lard, Schaibly uses purchased tortilla chips to save labor and calories, then specs lower-fat feta cheese, used in First Watch salads and other items, for the crema-melted cheese component. Grilled chicken breast goes on next, and it’s topped with salsa verde. “Going with green salsa instead of the heavier red sauce keeps the dish brighter in color and lighter in flavor,” Schaibly says. Everything is cooked in one pan “so it’s easy on the line,” he adds.
|Instead of...||Try this...|
|Crema and melted cheese||Feta cheese|
|Refried beans||Black beans|
|Red salsa or mole sauce||Salsa verde|