Savory Strength

 
For decades, McCormick has predicted emerging flavors – like chipotle chilies, coconut water, sea salt, wasabi and quinoa – that are now found everywhere from restaurants to retail shelves. This year, Flavor Forecast 2017 identifies five cutting-edge flavor trends to help chefs, restauranteurs and others refresh their menus for the year ahead. Savory plays a prominent role.
 
In 2017, McCormick predicts global twists on breakfast bowls from the Far East, the Middle East and Africa; plancha grilling from Spain, the Basque region of France and Mexico; and Modern Med, a new cuisine created through the blending of Eastern Mediterranean flavors with classic Western European dishes. Building on last year’s heat and tang, this year’s report also points to a surprising pairing of sweet with black pepper, the next wave of spicy flavor.  
 
Technomic has been tracking trending flavors, as well, watching as they evolve from the introductory stage into a menu mainstay. “The Technomic Lifecycle is pushing the envelope by showing us real-time ingredient innovation,” says Bernadette Noone, vice president at Technomic. “We've noticed with the growth of consumers' desires to remain healthy, that tofu is the leading cutting-edge protein used in sandwiches.”
 
Other ingredients like Muenster cheese, truffle aioli and English muffins were also identified as innovators in the sandwich category.
 
On the other hand, Technomic often finds that ingredients can be mainstream in some meal categories, while being unique and competitive in others. A perfect example would be “chipotle mayo.” When paired with chicken sandwiches, it is often found in the mainstream part of the lifecycle, while adding it to steak sandwiches places it on the introductory and growth scale.
 
Global flavor adoption is happening quickly at some bakery cafes. For instance, infusing international flavor into the classic Bruegger's Bagels menu is the Mo Rockin' turkey sandwich, which features harissa, a spicy, aromatic red pepper paste used in African and Middle Eastern cuisine. Bruegger's Bagels mixes harissa with creamy Greek yogurt, creating a distinctive flavor. Other ingredients in the sandwich are roasted turkey, Swiss cheese, fresh arugula, seasoned tomatoes and pickled red onions on toasted brioche bread.
 
"Our seasonal menu offers a culinary adventure that guests can enjoy for a hearty winter breakfast or lunch," says Bruegger's Bagels vice president of marketing Judy Kadylak. "We're also bringing back seasonal favorites, like our French Toast coffee, which has the comforting flavor and aroma of buttered French toast with a touch of cinnamon, drizzled with maple syrup."
 
For the first time in more than two years, Bruegger's Bagels introduces an all-new variety to its 100 percent made-in-Vermont cream cheese lineup. New Spicy Cheddar Pimiento, made with grated sharp cheddar, chopped pimiento peppers, jalapenos, garlic, onion and black pepper, adds a kick of spice and texture to any bagel or sandwich. 
 
Turning up the heat a little more is the new Spicy Bellapeno Egg sandwich, featuring a fresh-cracked egg, chorizo sausage and Spicy Cheddar Pimiento cream cheese. It is piled high on the new Bellapeno bagel, made with red bell peppers and jalapenos. 
 
The winter menu will be available through April 4 at participating locations. Bruegger's operates more than 275 Bruegger's Bagels bakeries in North America.

Beyond flavor trends, independents in the bakery café sector are breaking new ground, supported by mounting evidence that consumers love local.

“Major full service chains, especially in the casual dining sector of the market, are really struggling,” states Joe Pawlak, Technomic managing principal. “Consumer economic uncertainty, value issues, and undifferentiated positions are putting strains on many full service chains. However, independents seem to be holding their own as consumers are gravitating to these establishments due to their unique offerings, local orientation and strong value propositions.”
 
With these trends in mind, Great Harvest Bread recently announced the company will be looking to expand in all areas of the United States, primarily in the Northeast region. The company will begin offering a “hub and spoke” bakery-cafe franchise opportunity. With the new model, franchisees can purchase a large territory that includes a single Great Harvest Bread Co. bakery operation, and as many cafe-only units as they desire in surrounding towns. The bakery locations would be equipped with ovens and ample space to produce and deliver the hand-milled breads to the nearby cafe-only locations throughout the day.
 
The total average cost to open a Great Harvest Bread Company bakery cafe is about $315,000, compared to more than three times the amount for competing larger footprint concepts, according to the company, which is looking to open 25 locations with the new model in the next 15-18 months. While the new model is ideally suited for multi-unit operators, single-unit franchises in smaller territories will still be available. 
 
Dubbed “bread heaven” by fanatic customers since 1976, Great Harvest Bread bakeries make their bread from whole grains milled right on the premises – typically a five-hour process that starts every day as early as 2:30 a.m.
 
Great Harvest continues to mill its own high-quality wheat and bake bread fresh daily, according to Great Harvest Bread president Eric Keshin. “Our customers love us for that. We continue to grind wheat berries ordered from local Montana family-owned farms. We curate the outside of the sandwich to the inside. We offer every potential customer a sample slice of whatever bread’s available, hot out of the oven. Once they fall in love with our breads, they’re back for sandwiches, grain bowls and other menu items.”