Operators need low-labor menu options that are high-quality and satisfy the customer appetite for culinary trends.

As the labor crunch and supply chain woes continue, it makes sense that restaurant operators are turning to speed-scratch ingredients to be the workhorses of their menus. Customer expectations for the dining experience are soaring, and operators still need to minimize labor for back-of-house staff.

While low-labor prepared options are certainly convenient, chefs may struggle to find products that truly rival the quality of fresh ingredients. Adding culinary trends to the equation only increases the complexity of the problem. Every ingredient counts, and every ingredient has to measure up. How can operators even begin to source options that have to tick so many boxes?

Potatoes, for example, are a versatile mainstay—but fresh potatoes have a relatively short shelf life and are labor-intensive to prepare, even if they’re purchased already peeled.

Idahoan recently introduced a line of speed-scratch, clean-label sides called Honest Earth® to tackle these challenges for operators. Honest Earth uses a specialized cooking method to prepare their Fresh-Dried™ potatoes, which ensures they maintain the look and taste of fresh potatoes.

“Imagine a traditional baked potato with a nice crusty outside, and you open it up and the insides are white and fluffy,” says Richard Hoelzel, corporate chef at Idahoan. “That mouthfeel and that taste is what Honest Earth provides. You can actually feel and taste the texture of the potato. You get a ‘fresh potato’ presence without the labor and without the waste. And even when you open up a package of one of our Honest Earth products and pour it out dry, it’s recognizable. It looks purely like potato that has been cooked and dried.”

Honest Earth offers Creamy Mashed Potatoes, Rustic Mashed Potatoes, and Hash Brown Shredded Potatoes to help operators replicate the potato recipes their customers prefer—and to create new menu items. Made without sulfites, preservatives, artificial flavors, or artificial colors, Honest Earth products are plant-based and allow operators to embrace the “better-for-you” trend.

According to the National Restaurant Association’s 2022 What’s Hot Culinary Forecast, plant-based options rank among the top five trends—along with sustainability. Idahoan and Honest Earth are committed to sustainable practices. From repurposing food waste on the farm to reducing water consumption and air pollutants throughout their operations, Idahoan works to adhere to the “reduce-reuse-recycle” credo. The company has also tasked itself with reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“Think about shipping a truck full of our Honest Earth product right from our warehouse in Idaho Falls to any given point across the country, versus shipping a frozen or fresh product,” says Dennis Leikam, senior manager of environmental health and safety at Idahoan. “Companies shipping frozen or fresh potatoes are shipping about 80 percent water, because that’s the water content of potatoes. But Honest Earth potatoes are fresh-dried, so they take up 80 percent less space on the truck. We can be seven times more efficient in transportation when compared to shipping raw potatoes. That means fewer trucks on the road and reduced CO2 emissions. There are just so many benefits along the way.”

To learn more, visit honestearthfoodservice.com

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