Standing out from the competition should be one of your top goals if you are in the restaurant business. From introducing unique dishes to offering exclusive promos, you should constantly be thinking of ways to differentiate your establishment.
One of the simplest and most cost-efficient ways of distinguishing your food business is by offering homemade sauces, spreads, and condiments. By making use of natural ingredients and even some pantry staples, you can serve your dishes with these tasty additions and get the opportunity to up-charge, thereby increasing your bottom line.
Elevating Your Dishes With the Right Condiments
Leading food flavour suppliers share below the latest trends in sauces, spreads, and dips which you can consider adding to your menu:
Heat is still in
Sauces with different heat levels continue to be crowd favourites.
The XO sauce, for instance, a traditional spicy seafood condiment from Hong Kong, is very popular in many Asian restaurants. It is spicy, salty, smoky, and savoury, thanks to the combination of chilies, dried shrimp, cured ham, oil, onion, and other ingredients.
Unlike other sauces served with grilled, barbecued, or fried meat, XO sauce has a chunky texture, making it look and taste more like a chutney or relish.
In many food businesses, XO sauce is not only paired with off-the-grill meat. It is also served with a variety of dishes, including vegetarian options.
Hot sauce, garlic chili hot sauce, scotch bonnet ginger, and habanero remain popular spicy condiments, as well. So, offer them as add-ons to some select dishes.
Sweet and spicy flavours
Not all people can stand hot sauces, dressings, and dips. To entice diners that are not big fans of hot condiments, offer sweet and spicy options.
Creating this flavour combination is not difficult at all. One trick is to add honey to spicy sauces and you will get that balanced taste that will surely tickle your diners’ taste buds.
If you want to offer something unique, create a sweet and spicy dressing. You will elevate your salads with your unique take on this essential flavouring.
To elevate your chips, nachos, and other finger food appetisers, serve them with a sweet and spicy cream cheese dip or pineapple dipping sauce or offer them as add-ons to your usual offerings.
Plant-based condiments and spreads
With many people choosing to go vegan or vegetarian or want to have a healthier diet, sauces, dips, and spreads are big this year. We expect their popularity to remain, too.
Leading the pack are pasta sauces. Although most are already plant-based (think tomatoes, basil, and bell peppers, among others), several vegetables and fruits, such as broccoli, kale, cauliflower, and chickpeas, are finding their way in these dishes.
Alfredo and carbonara sauces with cauliflower and broccoli (whole, ground, or incorporated in the sauce itself), for instance, are now popular crowd-pleasers. Many restaurants serve them without bacon or other proteins.
Hummus, a favourite dip, is already plant-based since it contains chickpeas, lemon, and other natural ingredients. However, many manufacturers and chefs have decided to put their own spin on this condiment. The most popular variants that came out are hummus with cauliflower and with turmeric.
Other plant-based dips that are getting recognition are almond milk yoghurt ranch and veggie French onion dip.
The superfood avocado continues to be a favourite ingredient for vegan and vegetarian dips, dressings, and even spreads. It is the go-to accompaniment for bread, nachos, and other appetizers.
Aside from guacamole, avocado spreads with jalapeno and ranch dressing have been added to various menus and are being sold as products in groceries and other food establishments.
Sweet dips and spreads
Sweet-tasting dips were quite popular in 2020, and their popularity continues this year.
Chocolate and dark chocolate hummus caught the attention of numerous foodies. Aside from these flavours, many chefs have been experimenting with other variants including red velvet, brownie batter, and snickerdoodle.
Although sweet spreads have been added to create new flavours. Nut butter, for instance, has been infused with vanilla and cocoa hazelnut.
However, the most unusual spread that has been introduced so far has been coffee-flavoured nut butter. If you’re up to offering a unique sandwich or dessert topping in your restaurant or café, consider experimenting with this flavour profile.
Incorporating spirits in sauces and dressings
Innovative and forward-thinking chefs are always experimenting with ingredients. Many of them have been getting their inspiration from a popular area in their establishments: the bar.
Beer, sake, rum, and wine are typical ingredients in many dishes. They are widely used for marinades since they enhance the flavour of the meat and tenderise them as well.
However, chefs are also thinking of ways to incorporate other spirits that are not usually used in cooking, such as moonshine, vodka, tequila, and whiskey.
Moonshine, in particular, adds a distinctive flavour to barbecue and hot garlic sauces.
Tequila, on the other hand, can be used as a substitute for rum in barbecue sauces. It also elevates tomatillo-based verde salsas and spicy salsas.
Bourbon is another alcoholic beverage that can be used in sweet sauces, and added to custards, pies, and ice cream. With this ingredient, you can enhance the sweetness and fruity flavours of your dessert.
Millennials are drawn to unique and exciting sauces and condiments
If you are doubtful about offering unusual, out-of-the-box flavours, you have to know that there is a ready market for these unique offerings: millennials.
Millennials are fond of dining out and ordering takeaways and deliveries. Moreover, they are always open to trying new flavours and are drawn to homemade food or house specialities.
Many millennials are drawn to menu items that come with an original sauce or condiment that they can only get from a specific restaurant. As such, experimenting with different flavour profiles and coming up with your own mixes is something you should consider doing.
If you want to take small steps, start by introducing new flavours to established favourites. For instance, pair chips with sriracha aioli or bread with mashed spiced avocado toppings.
Sauces, spreads, and dips are staples in any dining establishment’s menu. If you are looking for ways to boost your sales and profits, try tweaking your offered condiments and price them accordingly.
Lamia Rochdi is the Marketing Manager at Bell Flavors & Fragrances EMEA. A successful family-owned business, Bell’s core competencies include customized solutions for the food and beverages industry, the household and personal care sector, and the perfume industry.