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Food

Drive menu innovation with varied textures, flavors

Photograph: Shutterstock

Eating and enjoying food involves all of the senses—but does any one sense have a bigger impact than the others? According to Charles Spence, Oxford professor of experimental psychology, human perception is typically dominated by what an individual’s eyes see. And in one experiment that dealt with this concept, researchers added red, tasteless coloring to white wine and watched as wine experts attributed traditionally red wine characteristics to its taste.

It turns out people really do eat with their eyes, as the sayings goes, and their food experience begins with what they can see on their plates or in their cups. That means the texture—visual or tactile surface characteristics—of the food being served is an opportunity to elevate that experience.

While the texture of all food matters—consider the appeal of a firm strawberry compared to a mushy one or crisp lettuce compared to wilted—it is particularly important when it comes to meat, and especially chicken. Chicken’s texture can suggest whether the meat is overcooked and dry or, conversely, whether it is too slick and perhaps dangerously undercooked. In fact, Technomic’s 2019 Center of the Plate: Poultry Consumer Trend Report found that 38% of consumers say they are very concerned with food safety when ordering chicken at restaurants. 

Using the right kind of chicken will help operators reduce food safety concerns while also providing consistently quality chicken that looks as appetizing as it tastes. For instance, Tyson® Precision Cooked™ Chicken is pre-cooked in the French Sous Vide style, which locks in moisture, speeds up prep time and offers consistent quality. Plus, since the chicken is already fully cooked, food safety risks are lowered.  

The same Techonomic report found that when consumers eat chicken, 41% say their primary reason is quality/taste. What’s more, chicken is a mainstay of most consumers’ diets: 70% report eating it weekly with 34% saying they’re eating more chicken than they were two years ago.

Because chicken is not only popular but also versatile, restaurants can experiment with pairing it with ingredients that deliver a more complex or ethnic-inspired taste profile. For instance, sliced chicken breast can be served in a lettuce cup with scallions and sesame seed garnishes as an Asian-inspired appetizer, while chicken thighs can be used to make a curry chicken salad sandwich served with greens on a croissant. Pulled chicken can serve as a topping on flatbread with pesto, feta, artichokes and capers.

Using Tyson® Precision Cooked™ Chicken, which operators can trust to be both delicious in appearance and taste, will improve customer experience while granting the kitchen the freedom to play with new and innovative flavor pairings.

This post is sponsored by Tyson Foods, Inc.

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