Consumers are dining out less. Black Box Intelligence reports that year-over-year same-store traffic declined 3.5 percent in April 2023. That’s a number that every chef and operator should be taking a hard look at, suggests Dan Burrows, consulting chef for MegaMex Foods.
“Consumers are hurting when it comes to inflation,” Burrows says. “They’re dining out less and making more stuff at home. For restaurants, that means when diners go out they’re looking for something that may be tough to make at home.”
Burrows says that the flavors from Mexican cuisine can help create all types of dishes that would be complex for a home chef. And, the more authentic the dish, the more likely a consumer will find it to be novel, and worth coming back for, when they dine out.
“There’s been a big-time resurgence of authentic Mexican flavors on menus,” Burrows says. “I think that chefs are continuing to explore authentic cuisines beyond our traditional Tex-Mex-style cuisine to create authenticity for the diner. Because truly, Mexican cuisine has all of these different unique flavors and traditions that you can even break down by region—just like we have here in the U.S.”
Here’s a look at a few labor-saving solutions from MegaMex Foods that can help restaurants deliver authentic Mexican flavor—and be able to execute it time and time again.
The complex heat derived from Mexican chile peppers is a key ingredient in creating Mexican fare, Burrows says. “It can take a dish up a notch and make it really authentic,” Burrows says. “And somebody isn’t going to be able to simulate that at home because they don’t want to deal with de-stemming and de-seeding and incorporating the peppers themselves.”
For those same practical reasons, the flavors from chipotle, guajillo, ancho, and pasilla peppers can also be difficult for chefs to create–restaurants don’t always have someone available to spend the time to properly prep and process chile peppers. That is why the TRES COCINAS® Authentic Pepper Paste products can be a chef’s best friend.
The line features three SKUs: Chipotle with Adobo, Guajillo, and Ancho and Pasilla. Each allows chefs and cooks to squeeze authentic Mexican flavor right out of the pouch—no prep necessary.
Because Mexico produces more avocados than any other country, the versatile fruit has long been a staple of Mexican cuisine. That means avocado is a must for any restaurant looking to produce authentic Mexican food that will drive foot traffic.
Some operators may grimace at the ever-fluctuating price and labor-intensive nature of fresh avocados. Because restaurant costs have risen to unprecedented levels and restaurants generally have fewer prep cooks in house, sourcing the beloved fruit may require extra consideration.
This is the value proposition offered by the makers of WHOLLY® AVOCADO products, a line of avocados that is picked, pitted, and packed at peak ripeness. “I think one of the ways that WHOLLY® AVOCADO really works for the operator is that it guarantees the right amount of ripeness,” Burrows says. “It’s just like when you’re trying to buy avocados at the store—some are underripe, some are overripe. Restaurants deal with that, too. WHOLLY® AVOCADO products are picked at peak ripeness, so you get the best product every time.”
There are a number of Mexican menu items that have skyrocketed in popularity. Burrows points to elote, or Mexican street corn, as one of the trendier imports appearing on U.S. menus. One up-and-coming item he thinks will start becoming increasingly popular is tlayuda, or Oaxacan street pizza, made with Oaxacan chile peppers and other ingredients on a tortilla base.
Whatever type of Mexican dish a chef is trying to create, MegaMex Foods, the makers of the TRES COCINAS® Authentic Pepper Pastes and the WHOLLY® AVOCADO brands, has a host of labor-saving solutions that includes many other brands and products, from salsa to avocados to pepper pastes and beyond.
“I think when you talk about authenticity, what you’re talking about is making food that tastes like it would where it originated,” Burrows says. “MegaMex Foods is saying, ‘let us do the heavy lifting for you so that you can build something really authentic that people will love.’ I think the pepper pastes are an example of something that gives you really good flavor and balance and a ton of versatility—and you can squeeze it out of the pouch. It doesn’t get more simple than that.”
For more on building authentic Mexican food items, visit the MegaMex Foods' website.