To gain a competitive advantage, menu the ingredients and flavours your diners will be searching for in the coming months. Read on for our short list of emerging flavour trends that will help you stay on top of the latest in modern menu development. Plus, get ideas on how to incorporate these exciting trends into your recipe development.
With comfort food taking center stage during the pandemic, finding menu inspiration in familiar-yet-new fare makes the most sense when looking for the next star. Technomic suggests keeping it simple with “indulgent comfort food,” and creative takes on quesadillas fits the bill.
The quesadilla, one of Mexico’s most iconic comfort foods, is having a moment, and chefs across Canada are demonstrating its creative potential, moving it from late-night snack to restaurant-level fare. The quesadilla trend gained traction thanks to its homey familiarity, but the driving force is the flavour-forward touches in market today, from crispy cheese crusts layered onto the exterior of the tortilla when griddling to changing up the carrier from the traditional tortilla to an Indian paratha, and adding eclectic mash-ups to the fillings, turning the quesadilla into a signature flavour experience. Look to other Mexican comfort food to catch on in 2022, too, including snackable taquitos, birrias, tortas and chilaquiles.
Give the quesadilla an Indian twist by loading a paratha with tandoori chicken and a sprinkle of Mozzarella Cheese, then toasting it and finishing it with Renee’s Jalapeno Lime Aioli and pineapple salsa.
With the joy of bright colors and the sense of escapism, tropical fruits hold huge appeal for today’s consumers. From a menu development perspective, they’re also primed for the spotlight, balancing both savoury and spicy profiles with their juicy fruitiness, natural sweetness and nuanced tones. Guava, mango, passionfruit and pineapple are leading the pack here, playing well with trending global cuisines from India, Southeast Asia, China, Latin America and the Caribbean.
Use aggressive cooking techniques to bring out complexity and supply evocative marketing language that helps with premium positioning: charring, roasting, pickling, caramelizing, grilling…
Add grilled and fine-diced mango to Renée’s Thai Tangy Sauce or Richardson Ultimate Barbecue Sauce; pair with braised pork shoulder or pulled chicken.
Spice blends are always within arm’s reach in a professional kitchen’s pantry, boosting flavour effectively in all types of cuisines. Today, they’re more important than ever, an effective tool to elevate the ordinary, add authenticity and introduce unique flavour narratives. In surveying the global landscape, three spice blends representing three trending regions are making the biggest moves. Japanese togarashi, Middle Eastern za’atar and Mexican al pastor seasoning promise adventure, giving chefs redolent, bold, complex profiles to play with and giving consumers easy pathways to adventure.
Za’tar is a Middle Eastern blend of sumac, sesame seeds, thyme and oregano, with tart, herbal nuttiness that opens up other flavours. As a fragrant seasoning, it’s a great way of introducing diners to unexpected, exotic variations on menu classics.
Season roasted mushrooms with za’atar, then tuck into a grilled fluffy pita with feta cheese and drizzle of Renée’s Caesar Dressing.
Togarashi is a Japanese spice blend of chile, citrus peel, sesame seeds, ginger and seaweed, with bright, lively and bold flavours. Its differentiating factor is its complexity, serving as a low acidity alternative to conventional spicy seasonings. Emphasize its complexity, noting the acid-free notes as a differentiator for guests seeking a replacement for conventional hot sauce.
Add togarashi to Richardson Ultimate Wing Sauce, then glaze chicken wings with it, bake, then topped with crispy ramen bits.
Al pastor seasoning is a blend of assertive Mexican ingredients—onion, garlic, chiles, achiote and cumin—that’s commonly featured as the pork seasoning in tacos al pastor. With the growing interest in regional Mexican cuisines and the continued love affair with bold flavours, al pastor seasoning offers big opportunity in moving into unexpected area on the menu, amping up flavour in plant-forward dishes and giving a variety of proteins a street-food vibe.
Combine al pastor seasoning with orange juice and brown sugar, then brush mixture on pineapple slices and grill; serve on a burger topped with Heinz Mayonnaise swirled with tomatillo.
Whatever trend you’re translating in 2022 and beyond, don’t forget to go big on flavour. According to Technomic’s Ignite Menu (Q2 2020-Q2 2021) research: