One Hot Food Trend: Say Cheese!
Any way you serve it—sliced, grated, wedges—cheese has plenty of menu potential.
In the quest for flavor, cheese may be the ultimate utility infielder.
Cheese brings richness, class, and craveability to any daypart in any segment and taps into the popularity of top food trends, such as bold flavors and comfort food. From mild to sharp, robust to downright funky, there’s a cheese for everyone and practically any recipe. Use multiple cheeses to create flavor innovations and add layers of flavor throughout the menu.
Food Trend: Ways to Add Cheese to Your Menu
Top salads with cheese
Most diners say they enjoy some type of cheese especially cheddar, mozzarella, or Parmesan in or on their salad. Expand their options by using bold, distinctive, and/or regional cheeses such as feta, Monterey Jack, pepper Jack, fresh chèvre, or Wisconsin cheddar.
Add Cheese to Hot Sandwiches
Use flavor-forward cheeses to kick up the flavor, richness, and indulgence factors.
Layer multiple cheeses to create a sophisticated signature grilled cheese. Examples: young, soft cheese with firm aged cheese; sharp cheese with mild cheeses (e.g., Muenster with Colby; sharp cheddar with Swiss/Havarti/mozzarella; Gorgonzola with mozzarella/provolone/cheddar/Taleggio); multiple regional versions of the same type of cheese—e.g., Vermont, Oregon, and British cheddars. Crust the exterior of the bread with Parmesan to enhance flavor and texture.
Top hot sandwiches (roasted-vegetable or stacked-meat) with a thick piece of cheese and pop them under the broiler until the cheese runs over everything for a flavor bomb that makes for a decadent presentation.
Enrich Entrées with Cheese
Craft “adult” versions of mac ’n’ cheese by blending in five different cheeses, adding flavorful proteins, and using pasta substitutes. Examples: Southern fried chicken and pimiento cheese mac ’n’ cheese; Swiss-style mac ’n’ cheese with Gruyère and spaetzle.
Menu Cheese for Sharing
There’s a huge comfort aspect to signature, indulgent, molten, gooey, melted-cheese dishes, such as Swiss fondue, Italian fonduta, Latin queso fundido, raclette, and Greek saganaki. Top cheese options include Gruyère, Emmenthaler, Gorgonzola, fontina, queso rico, and kaseri cheese.
Cheese spreads and schmears continue to be dining-consumer favorite and they’re a great way to add innovation to the menu.
Use uncommon and unexpected cheeses, such as young Parmesan whipped until creamy. Serve spreads such as pimiento cheese in little glass jars. Mix kimchee or kale into fresh chèvre. Accompany spreads with colorful chutney, local honey, or a squeeze bottle of hot sauce.
Smothered fries and poutines are craveable, indulgent, and easy to update in ways that keep menus fresh. Examples: in poutines, substitute chunks of washed-rind cheese or cheddar for cheese curds; upscale smothered fries with bold-flavored cheeses and multiple-cheese blends.
With their intoxicatingly rich, and complex flavor, cheese plates have become an anchor menu offering in full-service casual and casual–upscale restaurants. In most cases, what you can serve on your cheese plates will be inherently more artisanal, higher quality, and diverse than what’s available in retail cheese cases. Train your servers to guide customers through the cheese-plate experience (selections, beer/wine pairings, etc.).
Menu three to six cheeses—as long as you mix the flavors and balance colors and textures, anything’s fair game. Classic combinations include a trio of cow, goat, and sheep’s milk cheeses or themed selections (by country, region, type, etc.). Arrange cheeses in a progression of youngest/softest to most aged/firm; mildest to strongest. Offer options such as build-your-own cheese plates or single-cheese plates. Garnish cheese plates with greens, herbs, or fresh fruit and serve with flavorful go-withs—artisan honey, chutney, preserves, seasonal fresh fruit, poached fruit, toasted nuts, etc.
Get on the Burrata Bandwagon
One of today’s most luxurious—and easy-to-menu cheese experiences comes from burrata, a fresh, hand-formed mozzarella ball filled with bits of fresh mozzarella and luscious heavy cream. Creamy like a washed-rind cheese, but mild, burrata holds broad appeal and is both widely available and affordable.
Ask your Gordon Food Service Customer Development Specialist about our specialty cheeses, guidelines for curating and menuing them, and our full line of recipes featuring cheese.