Menus Get Cheesy


While many chefs choose specialty cheeses that tie into their
restaurant’s cuisine, some get a little edgier. These dishes highlight a few top choices.


Fiscalini Farms Cheddar Cheese Soup

“Fiscalini is a great farmstead cheese that is made in nearby Modesto, just 100 miles from here,” says Percy Whatley, executive chef at Yosemite Park’s Ahwahnee Hotel dining room. “The 18-month aged bandaged cheddar I use here is my favorite because of its sharpness.” To add to this soup’s California character, Whatley uses all local ingredients, including Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. Of the artisan cheeses in Ahwahnee’s inventory, 90 percent are from California. “Our strategy is to keep our carbon footprint to a minimum.”


Gruyere Gnocchi with wild Burgundy snails, yellowfoots and bortaga

Cheese shows up in many courses at One if by Land, Two if by Sea, a New York City landmark. Executive chef Craig Hopson sources a mix of imported and domestic products from Murray’s Cheese, a wholesale/retail operation just a few blocks away. Although gnocchi is traditionally made with Parmesan, Hopson looked for something “nutty and sharp” to give these a more definitive flavor. “I tweaked the gnocchi recipe to get in the maximum amount of Gruyere without compromising the texture,” he says.

Ballyvolane House Cheese Souffle

Dinner is a four-course seasonal spread at this country hotel and restaurant, located in County Cork, Ireland, with local produce, meats and cheeses playing a starring role. This signature souffle is made with shredded Kerrygold Dubliner, a hard cheese with Cheddar, Swiss and Parmesan notes. Owner Justin Green likes to serve the souffles hot from the oven in individual ramekins accompanied by balsamic vinegar-dressed baby greens as a salad course.

Halloumi Saganaki

Produced on the island of Cyprus for centuries, halloumi is a semi-hard, handmade cheese made from sheep and goat milk. It’s used extensively by Michael Psilakis, chef-partner at New York City’s Anthos, who imports the most authentic ingredients for his upscale Greek-inspired menu. “Halloumi is the only cheese that maintains its integrity through cooking; the unique texture allows me to roast, grill, dehydrate or fry it without losing its shape,” he notes. Here, Psilakis grills the versatile halloumi to accompany a salad for a first course.

Baked Brie with buckwheat honey sabayon

While at Zola in Washington D.C., chef Frank Morales developed this sweet-savory dish for the Epcot Food & Wine Festival. Fine-dining restaurants are increasingly pairing cheeses with honey varietals to entice customers into ordering a cheese course. Morales took this trend a step further by creating a recipe that combines the two; the robustly flavored buckwheat honey offers just the right counterpoint to the creamy brie.

Wisconsin Cheese Plate with Turkish figs and spicy pecan brittle

A classically composed cheese plate covers a spectrum of flavors and textures, ranging from sweet and runny to semi-soft, hard and blue. At Denver’s Solera, Goose Sorensen presents four Wisconsin varieties—Camembert, Grand Cru Gruyere Surchoix, Italico and Creamy Gorgonzola—accompanying them with house-made condiments. “Both the figs and pecan brittle are updates on traditional accompaniments of fruit and nuts,” Sorensen says. “The acidity and crunch cut the richness of the cheese.” He often sources Wisconsin artisan cheeses because he appreciates the history each cheese maker brings to the product.

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

The menu served at Ottawa General Hospital in Ottawa, Ontario, is headed for an overhaul after its CEO and management team ate a strict hospital food diet for a week and were unhappy with their options. The foodservice department has been fielding patient complaints for years, but decided to take action after facing the issue head on.

“Getting food managers to eat three meals of hospital food a day for a week brought the point home that much of the food being served was bland, institutional and not what people would normally eat,” Director of Food Services Kevin Peters told Ottawa...

Industry News & Opinion

With overtime pay likely to become a reality for some salaried foodservice employees after Dec. 1, operators are rethinking what they expect managers to do off-site as part of their responsibilities. Answering email or scheduling shifts at home didn’t matter when the employees were exempted from overtime if they earned more than $23,660 per year. But with that threshold more than doubling on Dec. 1 to $47,476, a half hour spent here and there on administrative tasks could push a salaried manager over the 40-hours-per-week threshold and entitle him or her to overtime. And how does the...

Menu Development
frozen raspberries

“As a chef, I pretty much have grown up through the business thinking that fresh was always better—produce, fish and meats, especially,” says Ryan Conklin, executive chef for UNC Rex Healthcare’s culinary and nutrition services. “But the more ‘re-educated’ I get, the more I’m learning that some frozen options may be more appropriate for me to be using on my menus.”

Right now, the perception of frozen foods doesn’t match the reality, especially for high-volume foodservice operators, says Conklin. Often, chefs and operators picture not-great product that’s been sitting in a block of...

Sponsored Content
Roasted Beet Salad Pickled Blueberries
From Blueberry Council.

What’s trending in the culinary world? The basics! According to the NRA, diners today are craving authenticity, simplicity and freshness on menus. But basic ingredients don’t have to lead to boring menu options.

It’s easy to fall into the latest craze to capture consumer attention and drive sales. But we’ve learned it’s not always about novelty. Instilling a feeling of nostalgia and familiarity by using well-known and well-loved ingredients in new, experimental dishes can lead to an increase in adventurous dining decisions, while staying in your customers’...

FSD Resources