Diners want something shareable that celebrates the season.
As summer approaches, chefs across the country are looking to build a menu fit for the season. Traditionally, that has meant coming up with a menu geared toward social, festive occasions.
“Summer is a time for gatherings, for eating outside together,” says Jordan Weber, kitchen manager at Nestlé Professional. “It’s a time for making the most of the season’s produce by trying a variety of different flavors and cooking techniques to serve up conversation starters with big, bold flavors.”
However, chefs are still battling inflated costs, and consumers are, too. That means designing a summer menu that stands out from the competition—without adding a bunch of new SKUs, or labor-intensive menu items—is as important as ever before.
With those things in mind, here are a few keys to designing the perfect summer menu—and how CHEF-MATE products can help chefs execute on that promise.
All across the country, consumers look forward to seeing summer’s rich, seasonal ingredients on their plate. Chefs like Weber relish a chance to work with those farm-fresh ingredients, too.
“Everything is brighter and more flavorful in summertime,” Weber says. “You can make a dish just based on things you’d find at a local farmer’s market.”
Weber also recommends elevating those fresh flavors of summer by using CHEF-MATE products as a “plus-one” addition to shareable plates. To elevate a grilled vegetable plate, for example, Weber recommends using CHEF-MATE Basic Cheddar Cheese Sauce.
“I recently designed a dish of Charred Broccoli with Gremolata and a Cheddar Cheese Sauce topping that was really delicious,” Weber says. “CHEF-MATE products are a great ‘plus-one’ because they are consistent, easy to use, and deliver really nice, bold flavors.”
As Weber alluded to, summer is a season where diners are getting together and sharing time. Because of that, having shareable options on a summer menu is a must.
“So many of the things you’ll see on a great summer menu are shareable,” says Kristin Minihan, marketing manager with Nestlé Professional. “Nachos, dips, sandwiches—that’s one of the big focuses we are working with on this summer menu campaign.”
Many of CHEF-MATE’s products excel in the shareable space. Products like CHEF-MATE Chili Con Carne can be served straight out of the can, or used as a perfect nacho topping, or chip dip. “CHEF-MATE Chili comes perfectly spiced with beans or without beans and it’s such a consistent, solid foundation for a number of menu items,” Weber says. “I love to top it with cornbread batter and bake for tamale pie, or use it as a filling for chimichangas that can be shared across a whole table."
Because of the inflating cost of goods and the continuing shortage of skilled labor in the industry, chefs are needing to get more out of each SKU in their kitchen. CHEF-MATE products allow for the perfect opportunity to elevate a number of different items on a summer menu to help control costs while delivering something on-trend and popular this summer.
“Operators are increasingly leveraging their existing pantry, thinking of ingredients they already have but maybe making a few additions,” Weber says. “When they do add an ingredient, though, they’re making sure it can be used in various and creative ways. Our products fit right into that because one SKU can fit into so many different applications. The products can be eaten as-is or added to existing or new menu items."
For more on creating a great summer menu, visit the CHEF-MATE website.