Contrary to popular belief, opposites do attract. Always have, always will. From the collaboration between Cleopatra and Julius Caesar to the harmonious partnership of McCartney and Lennon: opposites attract and often bring out the best in one another. This is useful knowledge to take back to your restaurant, because finding the ultimate combination of ingredients can provide a truly sublime food experience. Why do you want combinations that astonish even the most demanding customers? Because your food and dining experience drives the success of your business, and finding new ways to reinvigorate product categories bolsters your profits! In this blog post, we’ll share the secret of surprising combos that will have your guests beating a path back to your door for more!
Experiments for the jaded senses
Salmon and white wine, bacon and eggs, cranberry paired with game or fowl – classic combinations that not only complement, but mutually reinforce each other, giving our taste buds a treat in the process. But in today’s fast-paced world, new flavour experiences are a constant requirement as market demand switches to the next thing in the blink of an eye. Social media, increased wanderlust and hunger for adventurous food and drinks all play a big role in this constant craving for new experiences, especially among younger generations like Millennials or Gen Y (born between 1981 and 2000) and Centennials or Gen Z (born between 2001 and 2015). Your diners want to be surprised, excited and tantalised with new flavours. That means experimenting with your product categories. A risk? Possibly, but most likely it will offer new opportunities to grab your customers’ attention!
Never forget! You are the expert
As the chef, you have a huge advantage over your guests. You’re the expert, so explain your recommendations, just like a sommelier would explain their wine choices. Why pair these sweet potatoes with that curry, or advise a craft beer to go with this juicy steak? Advise, but never impose. Customers want to hear your insights and professional point of view, but in the end, they want to make up their own minds. In short? Put your expert knowledge to use and offer your expertise to turn a regular meal into a fun gastronomic experience. You’re not only the authority that knows best, you’re also the guide serving them a unique food adventure. Ensure a total dining experience that tickles their senses with sweet & savoury, hot & cold, and creamy & crispy, keeping them coming back for more.
The stranger the combo, the tastier
Don’t worry! You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. The smallest addition to an average dish can work wonders. Just try the sweet and savoury union of bacon and maple syrup. Who knew those ingredients would work together so mouth-wateringly well? The same goes for pretzels dipped in chocolate. Sweet, salty, crispy… to die for! And don’t even get me started on chocolate with hints of caramel and sea salt. Who would have thought! All in all, combining multiple product categories and flavours into one is a major trend. Let’s get back to the chocolate: think of the different new flavour combinations that are now available, from your regular dark chocolate to dark chocolate with lavender, earl grey, raspberries or coffee. Ultimately, it’s all about finding that new flavour that brings out the best in the core ingredient. Or, in this case: the chocolate.
Inspiration for such fun and amazing new food pairings can be found almost everywhere. Find it through your creativity (and that of your peers), by researching global and local food trends, or by analysing the market. Inspiration can even be found at the supermarket just around the corner. Just look at all those bags of crisps, harbouring the seemingly strangest flavour pairings such as ginger-flavoured potato crisps paired with the national wine-based cocktail spritz – a hit in Italy.
These three tips will start you off in the right direction:
- Share your knowledge and put your recommendations into writing. On menus or on a chalkboard, your advice becomes accessible for everyone. Bonus: you present yourself more strongly as the reliable authority you are.
- Visiting the supermarket? Hop over to non-food aisles for some unexpected inspiration. New, on-trend products like cucumber-melon shower gel might just tickle your creative bone.
- Beer and food make a great couple. Many chefs even think beer pairs better with food than wine. Turn this trend up a notch and go for homebrewed craft beer to accompany your food. Right on trend and right up the alley of Millennials and Centennials.
Feel like cooking up some unexpected food pairings after reading this blog? Let your creativity run free! Remember to do your inspirational research, even if it takes you beyond the food industry. But also make sure you have a clear overview of your menu to find your opportunities. Category management can help you do this. Claim your authority, astonish your customers, and you’ll have even the most ‘well-travelled’ ones coming back for more as your business thrives.