Datassential reports that 75 percent of diners say they like it when restaurants menu ethnic-inspired foods, meaning that creating globally inspired dishes is one pivotal way to connect with diners. But not every restaurant is able to create authentic feeling dishes without adding a host of SKUs and new ingredients. Plus, many kitchens are having trouble finding a full staff, making it as challenging as ever to shake up menus with new and exciting offerings.
“The number one problem for chefs is always going to be labor,” says Dan Burrows, consulting chef for MegaMex Foods. “I think that’s going to lead operators toward looking for ways to deliver the best flavors and menu items without having the labor they’re used to.”
MegaMex Foods recently developed three TRES COCINAS™ Authentic Pepper Pastes that are made with the modern chef and diner in mind: Chipotle with Adobo, Guajillo, and Ancho & Pasilla flavors. The three pastes help bring a kick of authentic flavor to dishes without the labor-intensive challenges of prepping and working with those peppers.
This slideshow looks at what makes chefs so excited about TRES COCINAS™ Authentic Pepper Pastes and the applications they’re helping create.
Perhaps no international cuisine is more beloved in the U.S. than Mexican food. But it’s not all Tex-Mex dishes like nachos and burritos—diners are looking to all types of restaurants to menu innovative traditional Mexican dishes that feel new and exciting.
Chef Burrows enjoys using the line of Authentic Pepper Pastes to create traditional Mexican dishes like birrias and tortas. He says the pastes are perfect for any type of restaurant, meaning chefs at Mexican and non-Mexican brands alike will appreciate the authentic flavor each paste helps add to a variety of different menu items.
According to Datassential MenuTrends 2020, peppers experienced double-digit percentage growth on menus from 2016 to 2020. Pepper callouts on menus are starting to catch some serious momentum, too. Ancho peppers have grown in that respect by 23 percent over the past four years, while guajillo peppers are among the top ten fastest-growing peppers. Chipotle peppers lay claim to being the second most featured pepper on menus nationwide.
“For a long time, the trend in the U.S. driving the growth of peppers was all about heat,” Burrows says. “People wanted to see how hot something could be and if they could endure it. But now I think people are really starting to appreciate the unique flavors of each individual pepper. With these pepper pastes, you get those dynamic, recognizable flavors and it helps create these amazing eating experiences without having to do much of anything but squeeze the pouch.”
These peppers are growing in popularity despite the fact that they are difficult to work with, Burrows says.
“With most peppers, you have to take the seeds and stems out, toast them, soak them, and then puree them,” Burrows says. “Operators don’t have the labor to do things like that right now, and that’s what these paste products are all about. They give operators that ancho flavor, that pasilla flavor, that guajillo flavor while taking the labor out of the mix.”
The versatility of each paste can’t be overstated, says Burrows, as the pastes can be used in everything from a marinade, to a signature dipping sauce, to a cocktail, to a soup, to a dressing. And the Chipotle with Adobo Authentic Pepper Paste even works in unique dessert applications like Chipotle Brownies a la Mode.
“I’ve made desserts that are sort of inspired by mole, getting those chocolate and cherry flavors where you’re using a bit of kick to counterbalance the sugar,” Burrows says. “Pairing it with ice cream, or replacing the liquid in brownie mix with a couple of squirts of the Chipotle with Adobo Authentic Pepper Paste can give that smokey heat in the background that makes those brownies really unique and interesting—the flavors of these pastes work in literally hundreds of different applications that people will love.”
MegaMex was founded to bring alive Mexican flavors in kitchens across the country by using years of culinary expertise to create convenient, bold products with chefs in mind. The research and development process used in creating the TRES COCINAS™ Authentic Pepper Pastes involved sending the product to chefs across the country at a wide variety of different types of kitchens. The feedback that was received helped drive an end product that offers these bold new flavors while eliminating prep.
“Through our research, we know consumers want these flavors because they’ve told us they want them,” Burrows says. “But we knew some of the flavors were hard to come by because of labor, but that operators wanted the flavors to differentiate, to create signature sauces and dishes, and these pastes give them an excellent and versatile way to do that.”
For more on adding bold flavors while cutting labor, visit the MegaMex website.