Packing heat

Customers’ demand for spicy foods brings a wide variety of chiles to menus.

Published in FSD Update

By 
Lindsey Ramsey, Contributing Editor

Customers like foods hot, and operators are turning to chiles for new ways to deliver the heat. The customers at a Bon Appétit B&I account in Folsom, Calif., love spicy food so much that Matt Kurtz, executive chef, had Sous Chef Bobby Georges create their own hot sauces for the café’s condiment station.

“We took it upon ourselves to get a bunch of different chiles, dried and fresh, and play around with them to make a really good variety of super, super hot sauces,” Kurtz says. “We’ve made sauces that I myself find too uncomfortable [to eat].”

Georges says the most popular sauce is called The Four Horseman, which uses the four hottest chiles the department could source from its produce company: habaneros, ghost chiles, serranos and Thai bird chiles.

“We basically just grind the chiles up in a food processor and add some lime juice, cilantro, salt and pepper,” Georges says. “The customers seem to love that one. Another one is called After Burner, and for that we fry habaneros with some onion in the oil. Then we blend it with the fry oil and make a really rich, spiced spread.”

The department has made about six versions of hot sauces and it tries to carry at least two at a time. “We keep these hot sauces in their own little area of the condiment station so they don’t get into the other stuff,” he says. “[Customers] use these sauces on anything from burgers to fries to pizza.”

Elsewhere in the café, Kurtz uses chiles in a few other dishes, including the café’s Drowned Burrito.

“We take our normal burrito and drown it in a red serrano chili,” Kurtz says. “It’s a very interesting chili. We get it from a local farmer. Normally you buy green serranos, but this farm lets them overripen, then they pick them and dry them. It’s got a clean heat, but it’s a little on the sweeter side.” The sauce is made with the chiles, onion, garlic and puréed tomato.

Kurtz says the café also does a lot of moles with chiles. A recent version was made from dried ancho chiles, pumpkin seeds, nuts and chocolate, which was served over tilapia. Because chiles pack dishes with lots of flavor, Kurtz says dishes like this one are great for a station where they don’t use salt.

More From FoodService Director

Menu Development
eggs

Loyola University Maryland took a new approach to all-day breakfast with an egg-focused concept.

Breakfast options were top of mind for students when asked what they would like to see on the menu at the university’s revamped Boulder Garden Cafe. Instead of creating an all-day breakfast station, however, the Baltimore-based dining team went beyond traditional options and created a concept that services all mealparts with eggs.

“It can be somewhat mundane,” says Executive Chef Don Crowther on why the team strayed away from the trendy all-day breakfast. At the eatery’s Sunny...

Industry News & Opinion

The University of Kansas has added a retail pass that allows students to purchase one to-go combo meal per day at cafes and markets on campus, the University Daily Kansan reports.

The pass is available on two different meal plans and is geared toward on-the-go students who don’t have the time to sit down and eat at a residence hall.

“It has increased the participation rate,” Jamie Reed, a service assistant for the school’s dining services, told the University Daily Kansan.

Over 1,800 students have used the pass since its debut at the beginning of the semester....

Industry News & Opinion

The University of Minnesota dining team has created a vegan student group in an effort to improve the school’s vegan offerings, Minnesota Daily reports.

The group was created by the school’s foodservice vendor, Aramark, and its campus sustainability coordinator, who is vegan, after receiving numerous complaints from students about the lack of vegan options on campus.

The group will this week host its first meeting, during which members will be able to share feedback and provide solutions to help enhance the school’s vegan offerings. Members will also keep a photo journal...

Industry News & Opinion

Panera Bread Co. announced today that it intends to buy the Au Bon Pain brand as a way of opening more bakery-cafes in colleges, healthcare facilities, office buildings, travel centers and malls.

Au Bon Pain, which was Panera’s sole business under an earlier incarnation of the company, consists of 304 bakery-cafes. Several units are located in noncommercial venues.

Panera owns or holds the franchise rights to about 2,050 restaurants, few of which are located outside of strip malls.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Immediately after the deal was...

FSD Resources