Keeping new and engaging items on the menu is a constant struggle for many Chefs. We here at College Chefs, however, think we've figured out the best ways to do it. And with a combined total of over 15,000 unique menu items per year, our Sorority and Fraternity Chefs know a little something about keeping a menu fresh. Here are our top three tips for keeping your menu current.
Regardless of where you cook or who's sampling your delicious food, staying as local as possible will always be appreciated. For our Chefs, local food goes a long way. If you're in a position to buy foods from local producers or suppliers, you definitely should. We've done it and had a lot of success because of it.
Unfortunately not every Chef is in a position to control where the ingredients they use come from. If you can't control supply, try to change the menu to feature local foods. Regardless of your region, chances are there are a few foods that your particular corner of the world does better than anyone else. Make sure they're on the menu.
Staying on top of national and international food trends is something every Chef can do easily with the help of the internet. Every year, countless organizations put tons of research into highlighting exactly which food trends will take hold. Bon Appétit
, Food Technology Magazine
, and US News & World Report
do it, just to name a few. College Chefs' Director of Operations Jake Sanders puts it this way, "We keep our menus fresh by following trending food. We research different restaurants, we pour through magazines, and the Food Network to keep our ideas trending and fresh."
Additionally, getting involved via social media and blogs will go a long way toward keeping your menu fresh. If you're struggling to figure out what to suggest, why not give a reputable Pinterest or Instagram account a look - but only if it's College Chefs ;-) . The point is that just by utilizing the vast array of social media channels out there, you can get tons of new ideas to try at your next meal.
It may seem an obvious observation, but it needs to be said nonetheless. If neither of the above tips are working for you, it may be time to reevaluate your culinary tastes in general. This is not a bad thing! We all hit slumps every now and then. The trick is getting out of them.
Have you traveled lately? Maybe it's time to renew that passport, get down to South America, and sample a whole new cuisine. When's the last time you did some bare-bones cabinet cooking, as described by College Chefs Supervisor Heather, and forced yourself to cook something incredible with whatever's lying around? Maybe it's time to try and get on Iron Chef?
In all seriousness, the point here is that somewhere in the world there exists some challenge or adventure which will re-spark your interest in your profession. Once you find that, updating that menu will become the easiest thing in the world.