The menu item that boosts immunity with a story to tell
Leaders are being pulled in more directions than ever before, with the labor shortage, as well as supply chain inflation, extending into 2022. Meanwhile, consumers are still looking for a exceptional dining experience every time they dine, with a focus on health elements that could boost immunity. Datassential reports that 70% of consumers say certain foods and ingredients can help boost immunity against COVID-19 and other viruses, which could explain the demand for such items.
The challenge for chefs then becomes to thread the needle: how can they work within the limits of limited help in the kitchen, with a finite amount of reliable ingredients, while still creating something healthy and memorable? for the guests?
“The labor shortage is definitely the topic of the city’s conversation right now in foodservice,” says Leah Krafft of the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, a public-private partnership between the State of Alaska and the Alaskan Seafood Industry. “What goes with it are shrinking menus, restaurants with fewer pantry ingredients on hand, and chefs needing ingredients that go further and help them do more with less. Something like breading and whipping proteins by hand is an example of something they don’t want to have to focus on.
Barton Seaver, an author and chef who has dedicated his career to sustainable seafood, sees seafood as a great way to live in the moment. Specifically, Seaver endorses breaded and breaded Alaskan seafood, which has become mainstream thanks to advancements in technology. Now it’s easier than ever for managers to integrate the product and use it in a multitude of applications across segments while reducing operational complexities.
Many Alaskan seafood companies offer breaded and breaded fish as a single, frozen SKU for chefs and operators. Chefs no longer bristle at the idea of frozen seafood, Seaver says, because they’re no longer seen as inferior.
“To be completely honest, when I started out as a chef, I learned that frozen seafood was inferior,” Seaver says. “I think a lot of chefs have done it. But there are so many reasons why this has changed. Freshly frozen seafood (when seafood is frozen to optimum freshness) is a complete game-changer in that it helps chefs get produce all year round and reduces carbon emissions because they reduce the number of deliveries to be made. Now you get fresh quality with all the benefits of a longer shelf life.
Breaded and battered seafood can be used in a long list of familiar applications, such as tacos, bowls, sandwiches, and salads. It can also be dressed up in something playful and decadent like the Fish Stick Panzanella that Seaver recently put in a cookbook. Consumers will love these breaded and breaded seafood-centric apps, Krafft says, because the focal point perfectly straddles the line between health and comfort.
“Consumers say fish is the number one protein for boosting immunity – if that’s not a good selling point to put on your menu, then I don’t know what it is,” Krafft says. “And it’s always desirable – you get that halo of health with the omega-3s, but it’s still something crunchy that diners love.”
Many diners opt for seafood when looking to change their diet, whether the desire for a change is due to a New Year’s resolution or Lent. In fact, according to Datassential, among diners looking to reduce their meat consumption, 58% said they wanted to increase their seafood consumption. Datassential also reports that 29% of consumers see fish as an ingredient that boosts immunity and reduces recovery time in the event of illness. In this case, the fish beat other healthy foods such as avocado, eggs and various vegetables.
And when properly stocked, seafood helps communicate a story to diners. That’s why Seaver has a soft spot for Alaskan seafood, which Datassential has identified as the number one protein brand on menus today, which means checking the names of seafood from l ‘Alaska on the menus goes a long way.
“When it comes to what people want, both through the contemporary prism of the pandemic, but also where the trends have been going for some time – towards healthy, creative dishes that tell a story of ingredients and source – breaded and breaded Alaskan seafood works well. so well in this discussion, ”says Seaver. “And now, in the midst of a workforce and supply chain crisis, modern technology has literally made this a convenient menu item that’s easy on your kitchen. I mean, really, wow. It’s starting to gain a lot of momentum and it seems to require more seafood on the menu more often.
To learn more about the Alaskan seafood menu, visit the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute website.
By Charlie Pogacar