As food and labor costs continue to inflate, some chefs are struggling to design standout menu items that can be executed consistently. Not innovating isn’t an option, either—with foot traffic beginning to decline as a result of inflation, menus have to be trendy and exciting in order to earn consumers’ dollars.
“We’ve been consistently hearing that operators want a culinary canvas on which they can innovate,” says Mark Slutzky, director of culinary at McCain Foods. “They are also looking for ways to meet demand for something veggie-forward, which is one of those trends that continues to grow.”
These are the forces that inspired McCain’s new line of award-winning, chef-driven, coated-vegetable items, V’DGZ™ (pronounced: veggies). The line was launched with the intention of giving operators an easy way to add something vegetable-forward to the menu. Each product is delicious on its own, but can also be used as a canvas to spark innovation and create exciting customized menu items.
Here’s a closer look at the line of three products, each product’s versatility, and some innovative ways each can be used in order to tap into new and ongoing trends.
Each item in the V’DGZ line is something craveable and shareable. “Shareable is so important right now,” Slutzky says. “Considering where we’ve been over the past few years, now everyone wants to get back out there and spend time with the people they’ve missed.”
Cauli W’ngz are a unique spin on cauliflower wings, which have grown 323 percent on menus in the past four years, according to Datassential. Made of pickled cauliflower florets in a clear, crispy coating that’s ideal for dunking, Cauli W’ngz are perfect for diners craving a social experience.
“That slightly sweet pickling gives it a really unique flavor,” Slutzky says. “This is a product that’s delicious even if you serve it alone with a sauce, and is a great example of a product chefs can work with to incorporate into other trends.”
Vegetable-based dishes have exploded into the mainstream over the past few years. Slutzky is one of many culinary minds who believe a second wave of products—one that goes far beyond plant-based burgers—is beginning to catch steam. Plant-forward rather than plant-based, if you will.
“For us, plant-forward means celebrating the vegetable,” Slutzky says. “Bruss’lz is a great example of this. These are Brussels sprout halves. You’re seeing the vegetable, it’s a celebration of it and its already bold flavor.”
There is no shortage of global flavors trending on menus. Sometimes, however, it can be a struggle for chefs to find ways to showcase each trend. This is yet another area where the V’DGZ™ line offers chefs a solution.
For example, Corn R’bz can easily be converted into an Instagrammable Elote-style offering, or used to showcase Asian-inspired influences. When it comes to showcasing the next hot trend, the entire V’DGZ™ line offers a variety of possibilities.
“We see V’DGZ™ as being this beautiful jumping off point,” Slutzky says. “In a way, chefs can adapt any and each of these products to their menu to fit the type of consumer they are targeting. If you’re a Mediterranean place, or an Asian concept, you can find ways—really trendy ways—to include V’DGZ™ on your menu.”
Since V’DGZ™ launched in January, Slutzky and his team have been thrilled to see a growing number of unique food applications featuring the products. His team has gotten an impressive amount of positive feedback from operators who love the no-hassle nature of the trendy products.
“V’DGZ™ puts a modern twist on menu favorites diners are looking for,” Slutzky says. “They’re versatile and flavorful with minimal prep, which is ideal for today’s operators.”
For more menu ideas, visit the V’DGZ™ website.