Menu trends: Going back to the basics

Food trends — like all trends — come and go, but some foods have stood the test of time. Innovation is the only way for that to happen,  which is why potatoes, beef and eggs are three ingredients that are still a huge part of most menus. Here’s a look at how chefs are using them in new ways to drive innovative options.

Hot potato

While French fries and baked potatoes have been menu staples for eons, the spud is enjoying new positioning at breakfast and brunch, said Don Odiorne, vice president of foodservice, Idaho Potato Commission.

“Breakfast hashes with reds, yellow and fingerlings are popular for brunch time, too,” he said. “House-made tots or ethnic meat- and cheese- filled croquettes and potato pancakes with interesting fold-ins of fresh herbs, vegetables, such as roasted red peppers or corn or kale are trending, too.”

The versatility and low cost of potatoes make the spud the perfect canvas for all dayparts, said Susan Weller, global foodservice marketing manager of the United States Potato Board.

“They can be served at any meal occasion and having been popping up and are part of current foodservice trends including poutine, potato pickling, tots and smoking,” she said. “They are a much-loved comfort food and meet customers’ need for freshness. In fact, a recent study showed diners are less likely to order a substitute food if potatoes are not available.”

Old Chicago Pizza & Taproom is one brand trying something new with potatoes. Its latest LTO is a Buffalo Poutine — French fries smothered in buffalo gravy and topped with fried cheese curds tossed in Buffalo sauce, tomatoes and green onions. Another chain, Smoke’s Poutinerie, specializes in the loaded fries. Based in Canada and now open in the U.S., the chain serves 30 varieties of its poutine.