A Twist on Classics

Standout Dishes and Flavor Concepts; what makes the best dish?

In the restaurant business, there is this constant quest to create standout dishes that keep the customers coming back for more. Two notable restaurants seem to have “found the recipe” (pun intended) for creating the best chicken. Featured in September’s Media Spotlight, both start by taking a menu item they are known for, in this case, fried chicken. At the Maple Street Biscuit Company;
www.maplestreetbiscuits.com, the menu features fried chicken biscuit sandwiches with premium ingredients that kick up the concept. The sandwiches showcase ingredients such as shiitake mushroom gravy, fried goat cheese, pecan wood smoked bacon and collard greens.

Same Formula, Different Factors

In San Diego, the lively, Crack Shack, www.crackshack.com, has an item on the menu called the Coop Deville – it’s fried chicken, pickled Fresno chilies, lime mayonnaise and Napa cabbage on a brioche bun. They use Jidori chicken, a bird that some have called the “Kobe beef of chicken”. Jidori is a mixed breed, free-range chicken, which has a robust flavor that is seen mostly in fine dining restaurants. Crack Shack has taken the chicken restaurant to another level.

The ‘WOW’ Factor

Catch the pattern? It’s not just about taking what you do best and adding in a few locally sourced ingredients. It is also about capturing the essence of the region you are in and then throwing in an element of flavor surprise. When I think of southern cuisine, I think about gravy, farm-fresh cheese, pecans, and collards. When I visit California, I expect to find a Latin influence in the way the food is prepared with a few trendy twists. Anyone (like me) who has taught customer service or worked in the service industry knows that perception is reality. You meet customer expectations when you give them what they anticipate (in this case it is capturing the essence of the regional flavors). You EXCEED expectations when you throw in that little element of “wow” (frying the goat cheese – pickling the chili peppers, using an upscale chicken).

All Star Support

Think of creating a familiar item with a twist like a producer thinks about casting a well-written movie. It’s not just about casting the right star – it’s about finding the best-supporting actors and actresses – and when a supporting cast member pulls off a surprisingly impressive performance, you walk away from the theater wanting to see that movie again

Eat well.

Mary Kay

Media Bites– A monthly review with the freshest culinary insight! All of our
posts are inspired by our Menu Innovator® system of Culinary Intelligence for new product development. To learn more visit us at www.menuinnovator.com

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Tony Lagana

Chef Tony is a 42-year veteran of the food industry and is often known by his peers as “The New Product Guru.” Throughout his illustrious culinary career, he’s earned several notable titles and positions including Acquisition International’s “Most Influential Product Development Expert, U.S.” in 2019.

In 1997, Tony also founded Culinary Systems Inc., a group of culinary consultants that assist with culinary training, restaurant start-ups, concept development, and more. Since then, Tony and his team have generated over two billion dollars in sales for their clients in restaurants, retail, and manufacturing.

The strategic, technical, and culinary skills of Tony and his team can be seen on the menus of national chains, in the portfolio of national food manufacturers, and on the grocery shelves of products produced by major retail companies.