Castello’s artisan cheeses can bring flavor to a variety of items.
Sometimes a product line can help tap into a chef’s adventurous side. Pamela Woods, SVP of sales at Arla Foods USA, has seen firsthand the way the company’s Castello specialty cheeses have driven innovation across the industry.
“Experimenting with a versatile ingredient like cheese can add infinite and flavorful variations to the menu,” Woods says. “We encourage restaurants to try the entire range, fall in love with our cheeses, and find a memorable way to incorporate Castello into the menu.”
Here are a few directions she suggests:
1. Elevate comfort foods
High-quality cheeses can help elevate familiar menu items, turning them into something revelatory. Think of this approach as the “amplification of comfort foods.”
Take a classic, fan-favorite dish like macaroni and cheese, for example. Chefs can bring this menu item to new culinary heights with the right choice of cheeses, and Castello’s Havarti, Gouda, and English Cheddar are all good selections—the creamy, slightly tangy flavor and meltability of the cheeses takes baked macaroni and cheese to new places.
2. Top the pie
While the Havarti and Gouda offerings from Castello are most popular, the company offers a number of award-winning cheeses. And to help educate restaurant operators about each product, Castello uses a “strength scale,” ranking cheeses from 1 to 6 in strength of flavor. At one end of the spectrum, the 1-rated Castello Havarti brings a creamy, mild flavor, while Danish Blue, which clocks in at a 6, features a bold and bright flavor. Embracing that range can help restaurants bring new life to pizza menus.
For example, Castello has seen chefs top artisanal pizza with its Chipotle Gouda or Danish Blue, which—while perhaps not traditional pizza cheeses—can create diverse flavors in combination with other fresh ingredients. Woods notes that one of her personal favorites is a fire-roasted flatbread pizza topped with arugula, pancetta, and Castello Danish Blue finished with a drizzle of spicy honey or balsamic glaze.
3. Order dessert
Another unique and trending use of Castello specialty cheeses is on dessert menus.
Combining savory and sweet flavors is one playful (not to mention delicious) way to keep consumers interested. Simple approaches produce great results—think grated cheese incorporated into pie crust or ice cream, or cheese paired with fresh fruit and chocolate. Woods also noted that a grilled panini with Castello Aged Havarti, raspberry preserves, and chocolate hazelnut spread is “a heavenly example we encourage everyone to try.”
4. Focus on presentation
Sometimes innovation comes in the way a menu item is presented.
Restaurants can call out specific cheese types and their origin in otherwise familiar menu items to increase consumer appeal. A ‘California Veggie Burger’ is one thing, but a ‘Santa Fe Vegetable Burger with Danish Creamy Havarti’ is on another level entirely.