View from the Kitchen
Chefs in and outside the industry forecast
the next “it” ingredient.
In honor of our first chef-focused issue of QSR, we
queried chefs inside the industry and out about what might
replace the chipotle pepper as the next big ingredient in
foodservice; which world/ethnic cuisine would most influence
quick-service kitchens; which flavor trends stood a chance in
the limited-service market; and which gourmet cooking technique
was most likely to trickle down.
The response we received contained common
threads—Latin and Asian cuisine, sous vide, and braising.
But there were some unique takes, too: references to sea salt,
cherries, figs, and pestos. Rather than paraphrase, we decided
to let the chefs speak for themselves. Here’s what they
had to say about…
The Next Big Ingredient
I see an increased presence and interest
in integrating ancho and Habanero peppers. Both can be used in
many forms, including marinades, glazes, salad dressings,
sandwiches, and salsas.
— Jon Miller
Director of Research & Development, El Pollo
The next big ingredient in quick-service
is sea salt. It is simple, has a natural cue, and has wide
consumer appeal. I could see it being used on french fries and
perhaps on artisan bread.
— Sean McGrath
Director, Sara Lee Foodservice
Individual quick-frozen cherries and
cherry juice, due to year-round availability and high nutrient
content, can easily move into competition with other popular
“super fruits” used today, notably the acai, [which
is] used in such quick-service establishments like the Jamba
— John Johnson
Executive Chef, TOWN
The next big thing is pancetta bacon. We
are starting to use it more and more in pastas and on pizzas. I
like it because it is not real salty and is nice and mild. It
tastes best warm, so it is not a good fit for salads. Pancetta
bacon helps release a lot of flavors in pastas.
— Eric Hickman
Artuzzi’s Italian Kitchen
Ancho peppers have become popular. Not
only is the flavor mild enough to be accepted by the general
public but also it is easy to say—which is a big deal
when compared to chilies like guajillo.
As figs gain mainstream popularity, they
show a lot of promise for quick-serve. They have nutrition
appeal and are versatile for both dessert and breakfast
applications. Figs can be held in either refrigerated or in dry
storage which makes them easy to work with in the quick-service
environment. They are also an excellent fat substitute,
providing both mouth feel and moisture.
— Matt Burton
Director of Culinary Innovation, ConAgra Foods
The next big ingredient is going to be a
blending of ingredients. This is going to come in the way of
curry. We could see curried potato chips much like we saw the
— Mike Leitner
Chef, Campbell Soup Company
Pestos, in general. Poblano, cilantro,
basil, red pepper, avocado, and sun-dried-tomato pestos used in
dressings, spreads, pizza-sauce bases, and pasta sauces.
— Rob D’Ors
Director of Product Development, Retail
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