Menu Inspiration

Comeback Foods Get a Warm Welcome

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For trendwatchers, the phrase “everything old is new again” has special resonance. Tastes change. Foods and techniques go in and out of fashion. Menus are constantly revamped.

Perhaps that’s why, when it comes to all-important factors like flavor, the dining experience or even their relationship with the food, forward-thinking operators look to the past for inspiration. That’s the case right now across the country – and the results are building excitement.

comfort food, reinvented

There’s no universal comfort food. But chefs are contemporizing comfort foods of all sorts. “Comfort foods are making a comeback, but in a healthier way,” notes Chef Kelli Welby, Shamrock Foods Business Review Specialist. Popular updates include Sloppy Joes with ground turkey breast instead of beef, and mashed cauliflower in place of mashed potatoes.

Vive La Reminiscence

“We’re seeing the re-emergence of French food,” says Chef Tim Maness, Shamrock Foods Business Review Specialist.

With its emphasis on traditional techniques, rich bases and classic recipes, French cuisine can add cachet to many foods as an element in signature mashups. Think éclair s’mores, French tacos with Mornay sauce, French onion mac ‘n cheese, or tempeh and mushroom bourguignonne.

“Consumers long for grandma’s cooking, but it’s not just about feeding yourself – it’s about the dining-out experience.”Chef Kelli Welby, Shamrock Foods Business Review Specialist

Flavorful French sauces, in particular, are on the upswing according to 2018 research by Datassential:

  • Bordelaise, Mornay, beurre blanc, persillade
  • Remoulade, béarnaise, béchamel, beurre noisette, wine reductions
  • Hollandaise, vinaigrette, mustard sauce
  • Retro Resurgence

    Some dishes practically bear a time stamp. Consider the Wedge Salad, ubiquitous on ’50s and ’60s menus. In 2017, Datassential reported a resurgence of demand for the wedge, with 49 percent of consumers saying they were interested in it. Innovative chefs are reinventing it as something cool, crunchy and exciting with toppings such as guanciale, pulled pork, grilled sirloin, tomato jam, gorgonzola or feta crumbles, chopped hard-boiled farmstead eggs and housemade citrussy vinaigrettes. Adding to the salad’s renaissance: over-sized wedges carved into sections are ideal for shareable-appetizer menus.

    Newfangled versions of retro dressings (green goddess, ranch, hot-bacon) are also back. Infused with fresh, flavorful and unexpected ingredients, they appeal to consumers.

    “Consumers want knowledge. Share a dish’s culinary history.”Matt Trusela, Shamrock Foods Enterprise Business Consultant

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    • Tell a Compelling Story

      “Consumers want knowledge,” notes Matt Trusela, Shamrock Foods Enterprise Business Consultant. “Share a dish’s culinary history. The operations that will stand out are those that can tell a strong story that connects on an emotional level.”

    • Add A Twist to the Familiar

      Put your own spin on comebacks by giving them a health halo, incorporating local and sustainable ingredients, or adding an indulgent sauce.

    • Spread The Word

      Promote comeback foods on menus, table tents and videos. Train servers to share the story.

    • Make It Personal

      If your grandmother brought her family’s recipe for lasagna al forno to this country, or a dish involves classic sauce techniques you learned in France, tell that story.

    Preparing the Meatball Dish

    1. Combine ingredients over medium heat.
      Whisk until sauce lightly bubbles. Set aside.
    2. Place meatballs in deep commercial pan.
    3. Heat frozen product for 11-13 minutes in oven or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
    4. Toss meatballs with sauce.
    5. Garnish with blue cheese and parsley.
    6. Plate and enjoy!

    This Great American Favorite from Prairie Creek® is a consistent product that provides consistent food cost!

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