From adding their own unique ingredients to jazz up a standard sauce base to answering the call for healthy, ethnically influenced recipes, Canadian chefs have a growing number of options for topping their creations with delicious sauces.
Canadian Restaurant & Foodservice News spoke to chefs and industry suppliers to get their take on the latest trends and innovations in sauce and base recipes. Read on to see what our panel of experts had to say.
Krista Brown, President, Linden Valley Gourmet
Graham Hayes, Corporate Chef, French’s Food Company
Ryan Marquis, Corporate Chef, C.W. Shasky
Marilyne Petitclerc, Culinary Marketing Specialist, Aliments ED Foods
What are some of the most exciting trends and developments when it comes to sauces and bases for restaurants in Canada in 2017?
Krista Brown: I am really excited about all the sauce and base trends that I am seeing. We are experiencing rare, unique flavours and textures that are introducing a new “bold” into common dishes. Some traditional dishes from contrasting backgrounds are finding their way into Canadian restaurants and hearts. Personal health is only picking up steam in the food and beverage industry. Healthy versions with lower fats, sugars and sodium have taken over the market. We are all creating sauces and bases that are light and fresh, creating flavours that complement the dish without overpowering its origin. One of the most popular trends in 2017 is all about fresh selections. You will find chefs are taking pride in growing their own ingredients and garnishes free of pesticides and herbicides. In many cases where they are unable to grow their own produce, you will see restaurants drawing from other local sources such as markets, farms and orchards.
Graham Hayes: Big, bold and real flavours are what I see in store for Canada for the rest of 2017. And by that I mean, I think more and more Canadians are starting to embrace real barbecue. Before I go on, there is a difference between grilling and real barbecue. If anyone has been to the Deep South in the U.S. they will know what I am talking about. There is nothing wrong with grilling at all, but in terms of flavour trends I see barbecue and smokehouses becoming increasingly mainstream. Of course when it comes to true barbecue you have to have the right sauce. These sauces have to be authentic and base in the real roots of barbecue.
Ryan Marquis: We are on the cusp of the smoky trend of sauces and flavours such as chipotle, smoked barbecue sauces, and guacamole entering mainstream. Influenced by the trend that people are seeking healthier menu items, new sauces that are entering the growth phase and aligning with this new trend and considered ahead of the curve are based around herbs and fruits. You’re beginning to see apple-flavoured barbecue sauces, lemon and herb dressings and sauces, cucumber flavours, ginger sauces and even basil sauces and drinks. The vast range of flavour between different fruits and herbs will open a large variance and change in flavour. This new trend of flavours will pair well with chicken, fish and salads and we should see an increase in these menu items.
Marilyne Petitclerc: Food trend predictions for 2017 unanimously call for healthy foods with benefits ranging from low sodium, to allergen free, to natural “clean label” ingredients, and others. These trends are significant as they will have a big impact on the health of Canadians. Our answer to this trend is our LUDA H line of gluten-free, lower sodium soup bases and sauce mixes for the foodservice market. Another mega trend that has an impact on sauces and bases is authentic ethnic foods, which also includes authentic Canadian flavours, such as poutine and maple. LUDA offers a large selection of authentic poutine sauces, with recipes expertly crafted by Québécois chefs.
What are the key factors that are currently driving recipe innovation and the use of sauces and bases?
KB: Gourmet made simple. With time being so valuable, consumers are looking for pleasure-seeking options that can be achieved in a short time frame. Sauces and bases play a valuable role here, giving new life to simple pasta dishes, stir-fries and even sandwiches. With more of the population becoming health conscious, consumers are looking for ways infuse flavor without the return of high calories and fats. Sauces and bases are a popular way to achieve these results.
GH: A major factor that is driving recipe innovation is that people want to eat so-called real food. They want to truthfully know where it’s from, who made it, what’s in it, and is it good to go into my body. People want real food and there isn’t anything much more real than eating food that tastes rich and full of flavour. The biggest challenge is knowing what foods to serve and how to make them fit on your menu.
RM: Millennials have caused a movement towards healthier dishes and more diverse options. Canada now boasts one of the most multicultural diverse countries and it shows in the restaurant business. Some of the trends we are seeing in this category are being led by ethnic flavours, maturity of customer tastes, and lifestyle trends such as healthy eating. Ethnic flavours are guiding flavour exploration in a big way, and this category has become an ideal vehicle to bring different flavours together.
MP: More than just a trend, “clean labels” are becoming the rule, as consumers expect the foods they buy to contain minimal, natural, and recognizable ingredients. This trend certainly influences recipe and product innovation at Aliments ED Foods. In answer to this trend, we developed the LUDA PRO line of “clean label,” meat-first bases containing only essential ingredients and that are flavorful, simple, and efficient to use. For chefs’ and operators’ convenience and storage needs, LUDA PRO products come either in a concentrated paste or in a dry base.
What are some creative ways chefs can include sauces and bases to expand beyond traditional recipes and dayparts?
KB: Just as mixing two unexpected textures or shades can create a masterpiece for an artist or painter, so can adding a sauce or a base for a chef. I like to use Linden Valley’s Strawberry Pomegranate dressing as a garnish on my cheesecake. Or sometimes I will whip in some cream cheese and icing sugar and use it for a dip with my fruit. For a succulent summertime treat you can add the Linden Valley Ginger Lemon Pepper to your burger patty, or even throw some Linden Valley Robust Raspberry Dressing into a saucepan with some olive oil and sundried tomato pesto to create a great topping for your pasta and veggies.
GH: I tell people to look at what they have on their menu. If you are concerned about trying a new recipe find a platform that your guests love and trust, then use that familiar platform to introduce a new product, like a burger. So let’s top it with pulled pork in a Cattlemen’s® Mississippi honey barbecue sauce, some slaw on a fresh bun, now we have something that is a winning dish and everyone is happy! Cattlemen’s has six options for barbecue right now; two of which are barbecue sauce bases: our Texas Smoky and St. Louis Original, which are meant to be just that, a base sauce. You can add other flavours or liquids to the sauce, to enhance and create your own custom mix. For example, you can take your favorite craft beer, and add it to our St. Louis Original base, and have an incredible sauce for your pork ribs. Or work with your spirits provider and add some whiskey to our Texas Smoky to add to your burritos to give it some kick.
RM: I think Chefs need to simply begin to cross some boundaries and avoid the norm — something like sriracha scrambled eggs in a breakfast burrito. You could also try and use some Cajun sauce on breakfast sandwiches. Really try to think unconventionally and use different sauces from different cuisines. Add more herbs and spices into dishes that are unconventional. Beginning to cross different-cultured flavours like maybe an egg sandwich topped with curry sauce.
MP: LUDA sauce mixes are building blocks to enhance flavour in any dish. Chefs can use a vegan sauce mix, such as LUDA H demi-glace sauce mix, to recreate a plant-based version of a carnivorous comfort food favourite, such as a vegan shepherd’s pie. The LUDA H demi-glace sauce mix will give the dish an umami and meaty flavour with none of the animal-based ingredients.