As we say goodbye to summer, we look forward to all the tastes, menu inspiration, and great seasonal autumn bounties.
As we open our recipe boxes for fall favorites and discover new twists on seasonal classics, we turn to our R&D Specialist, Amanda Webb, for a glimpse into what she and her team have on the burners for clients’ menu development, dish ideas, and inspiration this fall:
Foods That Tell a Story. “Whether a menu has 10 items or 100,” says Amanda, “choosing items that have a bit of a story behind them will almost always catch a diner’s eye.” We love bringing guests into our client’s storylines and the personalization and connection that helps provide. Amanda and her team are delving even deeper, into the widespread trend of “eating local.” They’ve implemented this theme successfully for clients, and the feedback has been great. For example, at Founding Farmers they’ve connected the restaurant group’s scratch-made, source matters mission with a maple syrup program straight out of NY State’s Adirondacks. Why New York and not Vermont? “The Grade A maple syrup served at Founding Farmers restaurants is derived from over 200 acres of forest where approx. 6,000 trees are tapped as part of a teaching farm & facility partnership with Cornell University, helping to support the world’s largest acreage devoted to sugar maple research.”
Foraged Foods & Wild Greens. We all want what we seemingly can’t have, right? For Amanda and her team, that means foods that are available for a minuscule amount of time. Enter: fiddleheads & ramps. “In the Northeast,” Amanda says, “the window for foraging for these food items is so small that it seems just getting them on the plate is half the excitement!” Fiddleheads, the small curls that bud up from ferns and harvested for use as a vegetable, disappear if they are not foraged. Ramps (also known as wild leeks) are a delicious, garlic-onion flavored green found deep in the woods in large patches that self-propagate every year. Both are delicious in even the simplest of preparations. Another popular wild green that Amanda suggests experimenting with? Dandelion. You can eat an entire dandelion plant – flower, leaves and all – the leaves in particular make a great addition to salad and the flower can be diffused into a deliciously sweet syrup. “As much as we love seeing food innovation taking strides,” says Amanda, “there is something really comforting and satisfying in finding ways to eat in a simple manor, straight from the ground, without any big food companies or factories involved.”
*photo: a glimpse into the Founding Farmers/Cornell University maple program.