Mushrooms, Malaysian food and Pizza Hut's new pie

Menu Talk: Pat and Bret discuss the latest food and beverage trends and feature a conversation with James Wozniuk of Malaysian restaurant Makan.

This week, Pat Cobe, senior menu editor of Restaurant Business, reported from Atlanta, where Menu Directions, a conference hosted by sister publication FoodService Director, had just wrapped up. Meanwhile, Bret Thorn, senior food & beverage editor of Nation’s Restaurant News and Restaurant Hospitality, reported on happenings in New York City.

Foodservice Director covers on-site dining, so attendees were mostly chefs from healthcare, schools, corporate dining, etc., rather than restaurants per se. Pat reported that they’re a nice group eager to share ideas. This year that included strategies for using artificial intelligence in menu development, as well as approaches for reducing waste—such as using leftover coffee grounds as part of a spice rub for roasted beets and meats.

Bret, meanwhile, attended a party thrown by the Mushroom Council where he enjoyed cocktails as well as lettuce wraps and tostadas made with different varieties of the fungus, and learned that the trade association is trying to make Mushroom Mondays a thing. Mushroom products also were on display at Menu Directions, blended into beef meatballs by Mush Foods, Pat said.

Bret also attended the launch of Pizza Hut’s new Chicago Tavern-Style Pizza, a thin-crust pie that’s actually more popular in the Windy City than the better-known deep dish pizza.

And he interviewed James Wozniuk, the chef of Makan, a Malaysian restaurant that started in Washington, D.C., and just opened a second unit in Charleston, S.C. The chef discussed why he loved Malaysian food, how he discovered it as a non-Malaysian, and how he went about developing the menu for Makan, which means “to eat” in Malay.

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Menu Talk is a collaboration between Restaurant Business Senior Menu Editor Pat Cobe and Bret Thorn, senior food & beverage editor of Nation’s Restaurant News and Restaurant Hospitality. You can subscribe to it wherever you listen to podcasts.

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