Desserts: Global Desserts

Operators find sweet success by adding treats with worldly flavors.

Published in FSD Update

Montana’s bread pudding.

Lemon tart. Tres leches. Thai rice pudding. What do these dishes have in common? They’re part of the global dessert trend sweeping the country. As diners are more adventurous and educated than ever, operators are finding success taking their desserts international.

Take Justin Johnson, executive chef at Watertown Regional Medical Center, in Wisconsin, who recently added lemon tart, crème brulee and gelato. “They’re classic European desserts that have stood the test of time,” Johnson explains. “There’s a visual appeal and an immediate familiarity without being something that looks processed or is too foreign.”

Other operators take it a step further. Timothy Gee, executive chef at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, in New Brunswick, N.J., has offered a variety of Latin American desserts, including dulce de leche rice pudding, flan and tres leches. “It allows us the opportunity to give customers something different and exciting,” says Gee, who hosts international theme days featuring desserts. 

Lindsay Marshall, executive pastry chef at the University of Montana, in Missoula, recently added several global options to her dessert menu, including Brazilian bread pudding, macaroons and Thai rice pudding. 

So, what’s the secret to their success? Here are a few:

  1. Research. Visit local ethnic restaurants to better understand flavor profiles, Gee suggests. Read about a country’s native crops and staple dishes and look at their history, Marshall adds.
  2. Follow the rules. “Master the traditional recipe and understand the provenance and preparation before you reinvent it,” Johnson says. “For example, if you whisk a custard too vigorously to speed up the process, you’ll incorporate too much air and it will deflate when it cooks.”
  3. Do as much advance prep work as possible, even making desserts the day before, which allows flavors to blend and develop more, Marshall suggests.
  4. When forecasting how much of an item you’ll need, take into account your demographics and a cuisine’s popularity,” advises Marshall, adding that desserts don’t usually sell as frequently as entrées.
  5. Keep desserts small, Johnson says. “The flavors diminish after the first few bites, like the law of diminishing returns, plus you don’t have to worry about using fake substitutes to save calories.”
  6. Put together an experienced and enthusiastic team. “Our dessert program has had so much success because our staff fully embraces taking fare from around the world and making it Montana,” by adding local products such as huckleberry French macaroons, Marshall says. Utilize your diverse staff, Gee adds. “They know the authentic dishes from their country and what will sell the best.”
  7. Educate your customers by demystifying foreign terminology, explaining the history of a dish and how it tastes, Johnson says. If a dish is really exotic, give out samples, Gee adds.  

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
ISR

The Illinois Street Residence Hall (ISR) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has come a long way since the start of the summer. What was just a hole in the ground now looks like an actual building. Its steel structure is up, and workers have constructed exterior temporary walls to allow them to begin tackling the interior.

“Now, it’s really about pulling all the electrical and all the plumbing. All of those things are becoming realistic for us,” says Director of University Housing Alma Sealine. “We actually won’t have walls up on the interior for a while, but that’s...

Menu Development
Culinary Trends

Fresh, made-from-scratch menu items are table stakes for restaurants these days—they’re what customers expect from fast casuals on up. So how can operators meet that expectation when labor costs keep rising and the labor pool keeps getting smaller? The unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been in 30 years, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, and industry competition for skilled cooks is at an all-time high.

Simplifying the menu is one solution, finds Donna Lee, founder of Brown Bag Seafood Co., a fast casual with four units in Chicago. But simplifying doesn’t necessarily...

Menu Development
Shawerma

Grab-and-go options are growing in every operation, but customers are looking for choices that go beyond the same-old sandwiches, salads and packaged snacks. In fact, 29% of consumers overall and 40% of those in the 18-34 age group are looking for ethnic items specifically described as street foods, according to Technomic’s Ethnic Food & Beverage Consumer Trend Report , powered by Ignite . Not only are street foods a staple in many Asian, Latin and Mediterranean countries, they are typically portable and ready to grab-and-go .

Simplifying shawerma

“It’s important that fans...

Industry News & Opinion

Hawaii public schools are serving locally sourced sweet potato pie in celebration of Thanksgiving and their harvest of the month program.

The menu item is being served this month at over 200 schools throughout the state and will use local Okinawan sweet potatoes . This is the first time the Hawaii-grown sweet potatoes will be served in the cafeterias.

The recipe for the dish was created by one of the district’s cafeteria managers and her staff.

FSD Resources

Code for Asynchronous jQuery Munchkin Tracking Code