Riding the Heat Wave

Published in Menu Strategies

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

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