Do-It-Yourself Seasonings

Despite a plethora of spice blends and seasonings on the market, chefs do like to make their own.

In an age where convenience is king, many chefs prefer to “do it old school.” They understand the benefits of, and are not shy about using, commercially prepared spice blends, sauces and seasonings. But they also understand that you can’t really call a recipe your own unless you’ve brought something unique to it.

We asked three chefs to share with us examples of their special flavoring techniques and mixes.

Chef Cameron's Turkey Brine
Cameron Clegg
Executive Chef (Parkhurst Dining Services), Highmark, Pittsburgh

“My arrival at Highmark coincided with preparations for a Thanksgiving dinner. I came up with this brine that we used with the turkey, and it was a big hit. I used it because it helps break down the turkey, adds flavor and keeps it moist.

Brines are very forgiving and can be adjusted in many ways. The aromatics such as the herbs and garlic can be changed out with anything you prefer. You can also change the sugar to honey, molasses, agave nectar or any other sweetener. I love to add citrus. Any of those flavors—orange, lemon, lime—match up with poultry and pork products wonderfully.

Brines are especially popular for smoked items, and smoked turkey can be a great way to change up your normal holiday dinners. I use mine also for duck and pork, and you can even use it with beef on special occasions.”

See full recipe

Omar & Craig’s Guajillo Rub and Barbecue Seasoning
Craig Mombert
Executive Chef, Vail Commons, Davidson College, Davidson, N.C.

“The reason I like to make my own seasonings is because I have most of the base ingredients in house. I can control the flavor and heat profile, it is cost-effective for my bottom line and I am able to market on my menus that the rubs are housemade. Omar Rodriguez, who is one of my chefs, assisted me with these two blends: Barbecue Seasoning and a Guajillo Rub.

The Barbecue Seasoning has the right amount of sweet with heat. We played with this for a bit to come up with a flavor that complements the meat. I added ground espresso beans to the rub to give it some color and to balance the sweet with a touch of bitter. We use this for our barbecued chicken and ribs.

The Guajillo Rub was created when we started making beef barbacoa. Omar experimented with the rub to replicate the flavors his family has enjoyed. He wanted it authentic, using only guajillo and ancho chilies and Mexican oregano.”

See Omar & Craig’s Guajillo Rub full recipe
See Omar & Craig’s Barbecue Seasoning full recipe

Herb-Seasoned Roasted Potato Wedges
Laura Catala
Chef/Manager (Flik Independent Dining Services), Horace Mann Lower School, Riverdale, N.Y.

“The right blend of seasoning can transform a seemingly average dish into one full of flavor. Herbs and spices are also a great way to add flavor without unwanted fat and calories. In this simple recipe, the potatoes are roasted for crunch without frying in oil and the dry herb mix adds delicious flavor.”

See full recipe

More From FoodService Director

Menu Development
sauces

Adding an entirely new cuisine to the menu can feel daunting. But what if you could dabble in international flavors simply by introducing a few new condiments? For inspiration, FSD talked to operators who are offering a range of condiments plucked from global regional cuisines.

“Most ethnic cuisines have some sort of sauce or condiment relishes that go with their dishes,” says Roy Sullivan, executive chef with Nutrition & Food Services at UCSF Medical Center in San Francisco. Condiments offered to diners at UCSF Medical include chimichurri (Argentina), curry (India), tzatziki (...

Ideas and Innovation
turnip juice brine

Give leftover brine new life by adding it to vegetables. In an interview with Food52, Stuart Brioza, chef and owner of State Bird Provisions in San Francisco, says that he adds a splash of leftover brine while sauteeing mushrooms to increase their flavor profile. “We like to ferment turnips at the restaurant, and it’s a great way to use that brine—though dill pickle brine would work just as well,” he says.

Menu Development
side dishes

Operators looking to increase sales of side dishes may want to focus on freshness and value. Here’s what attributes consumers say are important when picking sides.

Fresh - 73% Offered at a fair price - 72% Satisfies a craving - 64% Premium ingredients - 56% Natural ingredients - 49% Signature side - 47% Something familiar - 46% Housemade/made from scratch - 44% Something new/unique - 42% Large portion size - 42% Healthfulness - 40% Family-size - 40%

Source: Technomic’s 2017 Starters, Small Plates and Sides Consumer Trend Report , powered by Ignite

Ideas and Innovation
earth

When putting together our surveys, FoodService Director’s editors tend to ask operators about big trends that we’re seeing throughout the industry. For the November "Besties" issue , we asked readers to share the best ways they’re menuing things like plant-based dishes, trending international cuisines and creative DIY options.

Great responses flooded in from across the country, and it was tough to narrow down which would make it into the cover story. A few even came in after the piece was finished. Laura Thompson, resident district manager for Aramark at James Madison University,...

FSD Resources