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June 29, 2015

Salsa: The Sauce That's Not Just a Sauce

Salsa_foodcentricSalsa is the Spanish word for “sauce”, and it has also come to mean the same thing in English. However, this iconic condiment, which can consist of vegetables, fruit, herbs, spices, and even grains, and which can range from mild and tangy to searing hot, is much more than a simple topping.

There are numerous categories of salsa, some uncooked (salsa cruda) and some cooked.

  • Salsa verde is “green salsa”, which is typically made from pureed tomatillos, green chilies, and cilantro.
  • Salsa roja or “red salsa” usually includes cooked red tomatoes, onions, and chili peppers.
  • Pico de gallo is a popular form of uncooked salsa made from lime juice and coarsely chopped raw ingredients including tomatoes, onions, and cilantro leaves.

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June 16, 2015

Fast Casual Foods of India: Who Will Wrap It Up in America?


Fast_Casual_IndianThe cuisine of India has always been somewhat of a tough sell to American consumers, who seem to either love it or hate it without much in-between. For those who love it, especially vegetarians, the combination of spices, often with a little heat from chilies, presents a bonanza of choices. For those on the other end of the spectrum, the extensive menus, unfamiliar spices and flavors, and yes, murky food colors, are too daunting to try. Yet slowly but surely, Indian foods are making mainstream inroads. Naan, for example, has become as ubiquitous as pita bread even at the big box groceries. And then there’s curry. Sure, everyone knows what it is. It’s something and something, with some sort of spices and sometimes sauce.  Or, it’s that powder on the spice shelf with a label that says—wait for it—curry.   

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May 15, 2015

Food Trends From the James Beard Awards Reception Gala

 

Braveheart foodcentric
Our chefs served about 1,300 porcini-roasted Braveheart Beef filets.

We’re settling back in from the glitz and glamour of the 2015 James Beard Awards in Chicago, Ill., that took place early last week. As a sponsor for the reception following the awards ceremony at the Lyric Opera, we sent Chef Derin Moore, CMC, and Chef Ron Warner to serve our Braveheart Black Angus Beef to more than a thousand hungry guests alongside a host of former James Beard award-winning restaurants. A few lucky members of the marketing team were able to ride on the coattails to foodie fame and pick up some food trends at the pre-event parties and the reception. Some of these themes just might inspire Spring and Summer menu items.

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April 24, 2015

Trend Report from Taste of Vail

Tov1
Photo credit: Zach Malone for Taste of Vail

In the mountain town of Vail, Colorado, there’s a ritual that has become a rite of spring for the last 25 years—the Taste of Vail. Distinguished from other food events by its mountaintop picnic, The Taste also features an American Lamb Cook-Off and a Grand Tasting. This year the James Beard Celebrity Chef Tour Dinner, with national and local chefs, arrived in Vail in conjunction with the Taste. All the events were a good way to wake up winter dormant taste buds and find out what foods may be on everyone’s plate in the coming season.

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April 6, 2015

Top Trends from the International Pizza Expo

Expo Booth FoodcentricWe just got back from the International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas, Nev. Yes, it was a tough task stuffing our faces at the largest pizza show in the world, but someone had to do it. While our Roma Italian brand celebrated its 60th anniversary, we scouted out new trends to complement our Old World-inspired collection. Here’s a roundup of what we came back with.

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March 16, 2015

Restaurateurs Invest in a (Bone) Broth

Bone brothBone broth—the hottest trend in 2015 so far—is one of those commodities that came out of seemingly nowhere, and is somewhat of a mystery to diners. First, because the name “bone broth” sounds like it’s the favorite dish of cannibals everywhere; and second, because the name doesn’t give much of a clue as to what it is.  Any chef worth his weight in the kitchen knows how to make stock using bones, so how is bone broth any different?  

 

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February 5, 2015

The New Gold Rush: Citrus

  Buddhas_Hand
The citrus season is on. And with fun (and funny sounding) varieties such as Buddha’s Hand, Sumo, and Cara Cara, the food lover’s fruit basket is overflowing.

When the term citrus comes up, it’s difficult to know which ones will capture the public’s fancy unless you–and Shakespeare–know what’s in a name. For years, it was navel oranges or Valencia oranges, lemons or limes, grapefruit and other generic citrus. But, when a producer of a small, easy-to-peel mandarin orange came up with the name, “Cutie,” the rest as they say, was history. Now there is no end of producers and the clementine, one of the mandarin orange varieties, has become synonymous with this brown bag favorite.

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January 19, 2015

Staying Up-to-Date with Consumers’ Conflicting Needs

Caviar deviled eggConsumer food demands are all over the map these days. A curious mixture of health-driven, convenience-driven, and taste-driven, diners want it all at a restaurant. They want to veer from something comforting, to something healthy, to something decadent—and back again.

No one can cater to everyone, but restaurateurs can check out these possibilities if they want to satisfy those wacky needs.

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December 30, 2014

What's On The Menu: 2015

Grasshoppers
Will we see you eating bugs in 2015?

This is the time of year when everyone looks into their crystal bowl for restaurant trends in 2015. Some of them are obvious—the increased use of technology-at-the-table for instance, so that customers can order, entertain themselves and pay their bills on a restaurant-supplied tablet—all without ever making eye contact.

Then there are those calorie counts that must be included on menus in restaurants with 20 or more outlets, movie popcorn, vending machine foods and alcoholic beverages. This one is interesting because it may—or may not—lead to consumers making more informed choices. Or it might scare them away altogether, like drinking that morning coffee without that morning pastry (sigh!). Restaurateurs are already offering smaller portion sizes (mini scones, two-bite desserts) and reconfigured menu items to make dishes lower in fat and calories.

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December 23, 2014

Ask the Chef: Crab Dip

Crab dip blogLast week Blanche in Charlotte, N.C., wrote to us asking for a spinach crab dip recipe. We asked our team of chefs and received two right away! Since this is a popular party dish, we thought we'd share them both with our readers.

The first is from Chef Lonnie Varisco in Houma, La.. He says, "In New Orleans seafood is king. This is a great twist on the classic spinach and artichoke dip. Using crab boil in the recipe provides that classic boiled seafood taste everyone loves down here."

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