Exciting flavour combinations

August 26 2014

Every good chef knows the secret to creating great food is flavour. Dishes that simply don't taste nice - or indeed of nothing at all - are one sure-fire way to ensure consumers leave through the exit quicker than they come in through the entrance. 

It's also a tricky balance because operators have to cater for a wide demographic who all have different tastebuds, preferences and diets. Add to that the focus on healthy eating and sustainability, and it's no wonder chefs have a lot to think about when coming up with innovative menu options. 

Here are some suggestions of exciting flavour combinations that could work well on menus to enhance consumer appeal.

Smoked salmon and greek yoghurt

While smoked salmon and cream cheese is a favourite - especially on a bagel for breakfast or brunch - Oprah Winfrey recommends this combination as being good for any time of the day, not just for morning cuisine. In fact, it could make a strong early afternoon choice, especially considering the millennial generation are more likely to miss breakfast and look for something of that consistency a little later in the day than their older counterparts. 

Both smoked salmon and greek yoghurt are packed full of nutritional value and this can definitely be marketed as a premium offering by restaurateurs. To give it an added touch of spice, considering adding some lemon juice, a little olive oil, salt, pepper and a bit of fresh dill. 

In terms of eating, it's recommended to serve it with bagel chips, bread or simply consume with a spoon - and enjoy. 

Strawberries and balsamic vinegar

The very concept of these two items being in the same dish may be enough to put you off the idea, but bear with it temporarily. The fiery nature of balsamic vinegar works well against the sweet, juicy taste of strawberries, leaving you with an innovative dessert idea that is notably healthier than slathering cream or melted chocolate over this fruit. The mixture of sweet and savoury - and even a typical dessert combined with a main course dressing - could really appeal to those wanting a little something different when they eat out. 

Chocolate and chicken

Continuing the savoury meets sweet theme, how about giving customers a cheeky way to enjoy chocolate with their main course as well as with pudding?

Chocolate is often used to enrich some savoury meals, such as pasta and tomato-based dishes including spaghetti bolognese and chili, but some operators are going one step further and making it an integral part of the overall meal. 

Los Angeles recently saw the opening of ChocoChicken and while co-founder Adam Fleischman concedes it sounds "super goofy" to combine these two opposite flavours, he adds: "But it doesn't taste goofy. It tastes amazing", according to the UK newspaper the Independent. 

The meat isn't fried in chocolate oil but covered in cooking chocolate until it turns a deep, rich brown. While this may not be a suitable dish for the health-conscious consumer, it could well appeal to those who want to treat themselves or try something quite unusual. 

Chili powder and fruit

For those who like their food hot, chili powder is an essential ingredient to give dishes that extra bit of a kick. Anyone who finds it difficult to eat a meal without this bit of heat may like to extend this policy to dessert by sprinkling pineapple or mango with the red stuff.

This can be another great way to avoid adding sugar onto sweet-enough fruit and at the same time bolster flavour, as the acidity of the pineapple is heightened to really bring out the best qualities of it. 

Make sure the spice mix - used for bean or meat chili - isn't used, as this can contain cumin, garlic and other spices that don't work quite as well with fruit.