Because of inflation, labor challenges, and supply issues, running a restaurant has never been more difficult. Burrows points to TRES COCINAS® Authentic Pepper Pastes as a great way to make things a little bit easier in the face of all the craziness.
“With the price of everything inflating, a bag of peppers might cost an operator twice what it did prior to the pandemic,” Burrows says. “The labor to then process those peppers is going to cost more, too. Here’s a way to bypass all of that and be able to easily add unique flavors and ingredients to your menu.”
For more on TRES COCINAS® Authentic Pepper Pastes, visit the MegaMex website.
A list of ongoing trends in the restaurant industry would be incomplete without name-checking some peppers. Consider the guajillo, which was featured on the National Restaurant Association’s “What’s Hot” 2023 culinary forecast. Or ancho pepper, which according to Datassential grew 60 percent on menus between 2016 and 2020.
“Everybody is putting peppers on everything now,” says Dan Burrows, consulting chef for MegaMex Foods. “It feels like there’s always a hot new pepper that everybody’s talking about.”
The problem with menuing many of these peppers, Burrows says, is that they can introduce operational complexities for restaurants. Having a team member in the back of house stemming, seeding, and chopping them up for a variety of applications can be challenging—especially for short-staffed kitchens.
MegaMex Foods introduced TRES COCINAS® Authentic Pepper Pastes for these exact reasons. The pouches are an operator-friendly way to incorporate the bold, unique flavors of the trendiest peppers—without any of the hassle.
If there’s a pepper that everyone’s talking about right now, Burrows says, it’s the guajillo. Famous for its balanced heat with a hint of berries, the guajillo is a versatile pepper that can be used in something like an ever-trendy birria, or leveraged as a welcome twist on a dish all diners will be familiar with. Some mixologists even recommend using the guajillo in cocktails—like a Guajillo Margarita, for example.
“If people are eating out less, when they do go out they want menu items with ingredients they don’t want to deal with at home,” Burrows says. “So one thing all of these peppers have in common is that they can draw diners in. If somebody is looking at a menu, trying to decide where they might eat and they see a Guajillo Mac and Cheese on the menu, now they’re like, ‘Well that’s something that sounds amazing that I can’t make at home.’”
Ancho and Pasilla
Burrows proclaims his favorite of the three TRES COCINAS® Authentic Pepper Pastes to be the Ancho and Pasilla variety. The paste can be used as the centerpiece of a dish—think Ancho Chicken—or as an ingredient in a signature sauce.
“It works really, really well in things like barbecue sauce, or glazes,” Burrows says. “Any time you’re looking for a little kick in a glaze—this paste is what you’re looking for.”
Chipotle in Adobo
Chipotle in Adobo is a classic flavor that is above and beyond in terms of its versatility across menus and dayparts. It can be used in everything from salad dressings, to aiolis, to soups and stews. The smooth, dark flavors even work in dessert applications like Brownies a la Mode.
“One place where these pepper pastes really shine is on the ingredient label,” Burrows says. “A few big foodservice companies will maybe have a base of Chipotle and Adobo where you add water and mix it. Well, if you look down the list of ingredients, Chipotle peppers might be 12 ingredients down. Ours is literally just water and Chipotle and Adobo and a couple of other ingredients to balance out the flavors.”