Packing heat

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

Published in FSD Update

By 
Lindsey Ramsey, Contributing Editor

Upping the ante

Chiles have taken root in a new concept that opened in January called The Bistro at McKay-Dee Hospital, in Ogden, Utah.

“We’re offering three sandwiches and three salads a week on a rotation,” says Executive Chef Tyler Ehlert. “The flavor profile for the concept allowed us to play with chiles more. We wanted to offer something special with a low price point, and chiles are a great way to add flavor and heat and just a whole new level of excitement to items.”

One example is The Bistro’s pulled pork barbecue sandwich, which has an ancho chile barbecue sauce. For the sauce, Ehlert takes dried ancho chiles and mixes them with apple cider to make a “lovely, warm, hot-to-the-mouth sauce.” Ehlert likes working with ancho chiles because they aren’t too mild and are adaptable.

Ehlert also uses Thai chiles in a Thai chicken lettuce wrap at The Bistro. “We put a little of [the chiles] in the sautéed chicken and then I put a smattering of it in with the peanut dipping sauce,” he says. “The wrap also features carrots, celery, onion, bell peppers and a hoisin brown sugar ginger sauce. Those chiles are really hot and it really kicks the level of that dish up a notch.”

Schools also are getting into the chile game, according to Kathleen Sanderson, food consultant at Foodservice Solutions. Sanderson, in conjunction with the Pacific Northwest Canned Pear Service, recently helped develop nacho recipes that use chipotles for K-12 schools.

“We came up with a barbecue chipotle sauce as a way to deliver the sweetness of the pears with some heat,” Sanderson says. The pear chipotle barbecue sauce is used as both the base and topping for the nachos. The nachos feature ground turkey, onions, Greek yogurt instead of traditional sour cream, cheddar cheese and scallions.

“We also use that sauce for ribs and pizza,” Sanderson says. “The pears deliver a sweetness to the barbecue sauce that would normally come from brown sugar or something similar. Chipotles are nice for schools because they come canned, so they are easy to work with and they’ve got that really rich smoky flavor that you work so hard to achieve.”

Layers of flavor

Marc Powers, executive chef for Bon Appétit at the University of Redlands, in California, has used chiles to great effect at PACCON, a conference for small boutique universities.

Powers, along with several other college Bon Appétit chefs, developed a menu based on a Southwest theme that featured quail stuffed with chorizo and apple with a jalapeño-sage jelly on top.

“We also did ancho-dusted scallops, where I ground up the ancho peppers really fine,” Powers says. “For dessert we did a habanero mocha semifreddo, which kind of messed with your mind a little because it was cold, then you get the chocolate flavor so it’s sweet, then you get the floral and the heat from the habanero. It’s not overwhelming so you really get to experience all those different flavors.

“I like the versatility of working with chiles,” Powers adds. “Most people just go for heat, especially when you are young, you go for what’s the hottest you can get. But when you get a little more seasoned in the industry you need to temper that and you find out that a lot of these peppers have more subtle flavors besides the heat.”

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

Food delivery company Good Uncle is expanding to 15 college campuses this fall, The Daily Orange reports.

The company plans to grow along the East Coast and is looking at opening at schools such as George Washington University, Pennsylvania State University, Villanova University and American University. Good Uncle hopes to open at 50 to 100 campuses by 2019.

Starting as a delivery-only kitchen in 2016, Good Uncle partners with local restaurants to recreate their popular dishes and then deliver them to college students. The company offers free delivery, no delivery minimum...

Ideas and Innovation
wahoo tacos

School lunch is heating up. As expectations rise in the noncommercial sector, the old-fashioned cafeteria has become a hot topic. Political pressure on schools has seesawed over the past eight years, and nutritional regulations on items like sodium and whole grains have been overhauled (and back again). Meanwhile, students, parents, teachers, administrators and policymakers are demanding more healthfulness and better taste from school meals, often for the same cost.

Yet the industry’s best are dedicated to getting better, even while looking to the future with caution. “There’s not...

Sponsored Content
WinCup product

From WinCup ® .

The shape of hospitality is always changing—and challenging. Take the boom in off-premise and takeout, for example, that is expanding foodservice beyond the four walls of the dining room. That trend is driving both commercial and noncommercial operators to rethink their packaging needs—from a practical operational standpoint as well as when it comes to addressing consumers’ needs and desires.

Take it away

The tide of takeout is rising: 49% of 18- to 34-year olds say they are ordering food to-go more often now than they were three years ago, with 36% saying...

Industry News & Opinion

The dining team at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., is concerned about the school’s upcoming switch to a new food vendor this fall, the Daily Northwestern reports.

While Northwestern says that its new vendor, Compass, will invite staff to join the company and dining employees will receive the same pay, benefits and seniority they have in their current arrangement, workers are still worried about the change.

Staff say that the university did not keep them informed while searching for a new vendor and that they learned about new developments through students and...

FSD Resources