Riding the Heat Wave

Inspiration comes from a variety of places, allowing for menus to flaunt the delightful flavors of summer in new ways.

Published in Menu Strategies

When it comes to summer, chefs and mixologists alike are challenged with offering guests food and libations that are not only satisfying, but also refreshing. Inspiration comes from a variety of places, allowing for menus to flaunt the delightful flavors of summer in cool new ways.

Ryan McNulty, Metz Culinary Management, Dallas, Pa.  

When brainstorming summer menu ideas for Metz Culinary Management’s 160 noncommercial foodservice accounts, director of culinary development Ryan McNulty often looks to the boldly flavored cuisines of hot climate lands.

“Places like Southeast Asia, the Caribbean, Ethiopia, the Mediterranean and India are good inspirations,” says McNulty.

A light and lively Southwestern wheat berry salad is a leading example. It features chilled wheat berries tossed with fresh vegetables, legumes and cilantro cumin vinaigrette. An optional protein addition, such as grilled chicken or turkey or sautéed shrimp, rounds out the offering.

“People like it because it is healthy and filling as well as enjoyable,” says McNulty.

Also popular are Southeast Asian-style lettuce wraps—julienne vegetables, sliced proteins, cilantro, ginger and mint—bundled in lettuce leaves.

He also recommends such ingredients as Greek yogurt, fresh cheeses like ricotta, goat cheese and mozzarella, and eggs, either deviled, hard boiled or in vegetable-stuffed omelets. Chilled soba noodles with julienne vegetables in zesty vinaigrette is another winning item.

Hummus is a pleasing, light way to add protein to summer menus. Metz has a repertoire of 30 hummus variations, McNulty says, including roasted red pepper, cucumber and feta, artichoke, sweet potato, artichoke and wasabi.

Nor should menu makers overlook sushi. “Sushi sales go through the roof,” McNulty says. “We do a sushi program once a week with a local restaurant vendor. Sometimes 30 or 40 individual packets sell out.”

Menu Sampler: Metz Culinary Management accounts

  • Southwestern Wheat Berry & Black Bean Salad with Cilantro Cumin Vinaigrette
  • Open-Faced Grilled Chicken, Artichoke Hummus & Arugula on Toasted 7 Grain Bread
  • Sourdough Toast with Smashed Avocado, Ricotta, Sautéed Dandelion Greens & Poached Egg
  • Toasted Israeli Cous Cous, Fresh & Dried Stone Fruit and Minted Berry Vinaigrette

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
chefs

We started inviting chefs and FSDs from other districts to come prepare lunch. Through featuring different chefs and chef-inspired meals, I’ve found the students have been looking forward to coming into the cafeteria. They are willing to try new things with crazy names, and to ask for their favorite outside items turned healthy.

Ideas and Innovation
tapas

I’ve created a high school “focus group” to see what future college students will want in terms of foodservice. This year, I called up two now-seniors from the last group to get 10 of their friends together. I also include a sophomore or two so that I always have a contact for next year. Tapas, grain bowls and late-night breakfast all originated from this group.

Ideas and Innovation
making meals

This summer, we teamed up with a church to deliver meals to three housing projects. We brought the meals to the church, and then the church recruited volunteers to deliver the meals to the children. We’ve been very impressed with this new model, and it shows great promise in getting meals to children who otherwise would not be able to leave their housing project.

Industry News & Opinion
sharing love

Having never personally experienced a hurricane, I can only imagine the horrors faced by the millions of people whose lives were affected by Harvey and Irma in late August and early September. It’s a group that comprises uncounted noncommercial operations, including Houston Independent School District, which serves 215,000 students.

But from that tragedy has come one of the most impressive feats of foodservice I’ve seen since coming on board at this magazine, partially spearheaded by Nutrition Officer Betti Wiggins , who only just joined the district. For the entire school year,...

FSD Resources