How to Elevate Your Appetizers

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Ajinomoto Foods North America

With omnipresent challenges like inflation, labor, and supply-chain shortages, many chefs are left with little time to innovate. That’s understandable, says Michael Castagna, vice president of foodservice marketing at Ajinomoto Foods North America, but it also means restaurants are not always meeting demand for trendy menu items.

“If you’re not innovating, you’re falling behind,” Castagna says.

In fact, it would appear that now is the wrong time to stop innovating. Inflation and uncertain economic times have hit the wallets of consumers, too. Foot traffic has been falling industry-wide of late, meaning it’s as important as ever for restaurants to offer differentiation.

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Ajinomoto Foods North America
Revel Eats

Enter: Revel Eats, a new coated appetizer brand recently launched by Ajinomoto Foods North America, a company that believes it sets the standard in the prepared frozen foods space. Revel Eats is born of a five-year research and development journey that identified white space when it came to elevated, high-quality appetizers. Each product in the new line can be added to a menu and instantly help operators meet demand for something new and craveable.

“We’re looking beyond what’s offered today,” says Kari Cox, senior category marketing manager with Ajinomoto Foods North America. “Revel Eats enhances menus by offering that next generation of appetizers with buzzworthy appeal.”

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Ajinomoto Foods North America
Queso Loaded Tots

The Revel Eats brand now includes three versatile appetizers. The first: Queso Loaded Tots.

According to Datassential, loaded tots have grown 146 percent on U.S. menus across four years. Revel Eats’ Queso Loaded Tots are billed as “a loaded baked potato with a twist.” The tots are a potato-filled treat with a savory blend of various cheeses and a combination of bacon and jalapeño peppers, with a crispy tortilla chip coating.

“This appetizer can stand alone as a signature menu item or be paired with a variety of signature dipping sauces,” Cox says. “You can pair the Queso Loaded Tots with a chipotle ranch, jalapeño cheddar sauce, or even an apple cheddar chutney for a craveable flavor combination.”

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Ajinomoto Foods North America
Guacamole Bites

The Revel Eats lineup also includes Guacamole Bites with guacamole stuffed inside of a crispy tortilla chip breading. Cox says the menu item is a new spin on an already popular menu item: Chips and guacamole, which are featured on 70 percent of ethnic menus, according to Datassential.

“Everything Revel Eats offers is grounded in industry insights,” Cox says. “With the Guacamole Bites, we’re accomplishing something that is both trend-forward and familiar—it takes a popular item and makes it really easy for chefs to execute in a new way.”

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Ajinomoto Foods North America
Creamy Mango Habanero Bites

Creamy Mango Habanero Bites is the third Revel Eats appetizer, billed as a “sweet-heat treat.” It’s a fried appetizer stuffed with cream cheese, diced mangos, and habanero peppers.

“The sweet-heat trend continues to take off,” Cox says. “This is also an item that touts menu versatility, where you can serve it as an appetizer or even pair it with ice cream or raspberry sauce and menu it as a dessert.”

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Ajinomoto Foods North America
More to Come

Revel Eats gives operators a high-quality, ready-to-serve product that will help their appetizer menu standout. The brand plans to launch new items in the future, too.

“These are appetizers that are beyond what is offered in the foodservice marketplace today,” Cox says. “It’s the new standard for premium, trend-forward appetizers.”

For more on Revel Eats, visit the company's website