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Frozen ProduceFlanagan Foodservice Blog Frozen Produce

By Alasko Foods

 

 

When it comes to nutrition, fruits and vegetables have always been the go-to in terms of healthy eating. Tried and true, their combination of practicality, taste, and nutritional benefit are second to none. However, frozen rather than fresh produce has several unique benefits which make them a clear choice for the resourceful restaurant operator.

 

Here are five reasons why:

 

1) Always in season

Frozen fruit is actually richer in nutrients on average than their fresh counterparts, according to a study by the University of California-Davis.¹ This is because of its enhanced preservation through a unique freezing method. Companies like Alasko, which utilize IQF (individual quick freezing) technology, do so because it locks in freshness, flavour, colour, and taste.

 

Individual quick freezing takes single pieces of food and, as the name suggests, freezes them individually at extremely low temperatures. This prevents the formation of large ice crystals that conventional freezing would cause, and preserves the high-quality state that the food is currently in.

 

IQF fruits and vegetables are always in season, simply because that’s the state at which they are frozen in.

 

2) Always available

Thanks to worldwide sourcing—which market leaders such as Alasko benefit from due to their extensive global supply network—it is feasible to obtain the best possible product from whichever region it happens to be currently in-season. Using IQF technology, the produce that ends up in your recipe and menu items is as fresh as it was when picked.

 

3) Convenience

Frozen produce has a lot more potential to it than meets the eye.

 

Rather than having to peel, chop, and prepare a fresh fruit or vegetable, IQF produce is frozen in a state that is ready to use. Simply toss fruits in a blender to make a smoothie, chop them up and make a salsa, or incorporate them into a smoothie bowl. Easily mix vegetables into a stir fry or casserole, or into a dip.

 

The possibilities are extensive!

 

4) Extended life

The disadvantage of fresh produce is that it needs to be consumed in a certain window of time before it starts to become overripe. This can put a lot of pressure for you to make use of it as quickly as possible. (Granted, frozen produce still has this window as well, but it is far lengthier—typically 24 months, as opposed to a week or so.²)

 

Simply take out the portion you need, and put the rest away where it will remain frozen and unspoiled.

 

5) Cost efficient

Using frozen fruits and vegetables minimizes your expenses in the areas of labour and food waste. Frozen produce is already cut, washed, and ready to toss in a recipe, and unused quantities can be put right back into the freezer. Even better, frozen produce can be less costly than their fresh counterparts.³

 

When it comes to the ingredients to put in your recipes, you are constantly faced with choice. Frozen fruits and vegetables have several benefits that are often overlooked in comparison to the alternatives. Whether it’s the heightened nutrition, convenience, or cheaper cost: frozen fruits and vegetables are definitely worth it.

 

For delicious IQF products to use in your next recipe, contact your Flanagan Foodservice sales representative or call our Customer Relations team at 1-855-FLANAGAN.

 

About Alasko

Alasko Foods is a leader in global sourcing of conventional and organic frozen fruits and vegetables, with a reputation for providing superior, world class service to customers across Canada, the US, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Committed to delivering the safest and highest quality products, without compromise, Alasko Foods will source, process, pack, label, brand and distribute the best fresh-frozen fruits and vegetables the world has to offer. Learn more at alasko.com.

 

References:

[1] Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture c 87:930–944

[2] U.S. Food & Drug Administration, 2015; Foodsafety.gov

[3] United Stated Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, 2016

 

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Close up butternut squash soup

 

Working with soup bases can save you time, labour and money. Two experts share their chef tips and soup-er recipes. 

 

A good soup base can be an immeasurable asset to the foodservice kitchen. It adds depth of flavour to dishes, can be built upon to create signature recipes and eliminates the cost of raw ingredients required to make a consistently flavourful stock.

 

There are many advantages to using a soup base as the platform for soup innovation:

 

1. Time- and labour-saving

Making the switch from scratch recipes to “speed scratch” recipes, including those using and building on a good soup base can mean significant time and labour savings for operators. “Scratch made stocks, and sauces derived from these stocks, can take hours of skilled labour,” says Kyla Tuori, corporate chef at Unilever Food Solutions.

 

“The cost of raw ingredients used to make a consistent flavourful stock can be a hassle, as well as the storage needed for these raw ingredients.”

 

2. Cost-saving

On the rising cost of labour across North America, Gerald Drummond, executive chef, North American Foodservice, Campbell Soup Company, says, “As minimums continue to increase, chefs and operators need to be creative in driving down costs while continuing to give customers creativity. It’s always a delicate balancing act.

 

3. Inventory-saving

“Having a good-tasting and well-balanced base helps the operator have greater variety on the menu while not increasing their inventory,” Chef Gerald continues. “It allows for the ability to offer multiple menu items while using the same product, as well as being able to stay relevant when it comes to food trends.”

 

4. Creative

What makes a good soup base? Beyond lending great flavour and aroma to dishes, Chef Kyla says, “a good commercial base is a concentrated product meant to be diluted to mimic a scratch-made stock (yet is also) so much more, and can be used for seasoning, marinating, and enhancing other scratch-made recipes.”

 

When it comes to which base(s) to choose, knowing what you want to achieve will help dictate what is important to look for. “Not all soup bases are created equal, or alike,” she continues. “With the variety of formats, ingredient decks, and (nutritional or special diet) claims, there is a base for every application and operator.”

 

5. Versatile

Beyond soup, many soup bases can be used in a variety of applications. Chef Gerald suggests turning a cream soup base into sauce for flatbread or pizza, Alfredo sauce for pasta or as a rich and flavourful base for chicken pot pie. “Powder bases can be used in their raw form for seasoning dishes,” says Chef Kyla. “Since these bases are often ‘salt first’ in the ingredient decks, they can add a lot of flavour where it may otherwise be lacking.

 

“Paste bases, due to their consistency and ‘ingredient/meat first’ ingredient decks, are great for rubs and marinades,” she adds. “They will adhere easily to the item that you are marinating and infuse it with flavours. Liquid concentrated bases can be used for seasoning dishes, marinating, glazing, and as a finishing enhancer. They are the most versatile of bases due to their consistency and flavour complexity.”

 

It's time to soup up your creativity in the kitchen, as well as your profit margin, with the addition of soup bases.

 

A simple way to make soups feel fresh

Garnishing is a simple way to make soups feel fresher, more premium and more delicious. Patrons perceive garnished soups as higher value, so you can charge up to 25% more!

 

Step up your presentation with these garnishing ideas using Campbell’s Signature Soups:

 

Beef Pot Roast

Add texture with sautéed garlic chips, crouton lardons, creamy aioli or horseradish. Sprinkle with minced thyme and marjoram for extra flavour.

 

Broccoli Cheddar

Go for the green with broccoli florets, green onions or chives. Add indulgence with sharp Cheddar cheese crisps.

 

Buffalo Style Chicken with Blue Cheese

Top with sour cream and minced chives. Or make it hearty with sliced chicken tenders, hot sauce and blue cheese crumble.

 

Chicken Corn Chowder with Sweet Peppers

Amp up the colour contrast with diced red pepper, fresh corn kernels or chopped chives.

 

Chicken Tortilla

Up the authenticity with tortilla strips, sour cream, queso fresco or avocado.

 

Classic Chicken Noodle

Garnish with chopped parsley or a parsley sprig for a pop of flavour and colour. Add rotisserie pulled chicken or fried noodles for culinary flair.

 

Harvest Butternut Squash

Amp up the flavour with toasted pumpkin seeds, butternut squash frites and a dollop of crème fraîche.

 

Hearty Beef Chili with Beans

Balance the spice with sour cream or shredded Cheddar. Brighten the bowl with scallions, green onions or chives.

 

Loaded Baked Potato

Re-load with Cheddar, sour cream, bacon, green onions, chives or waffled fries.

 

Sautéed Mushroom and Onion Bisque

Add key ingredients like sautéed mushrooms, fried or diced onions or leeks.

 

Southwestern Vegetarian Chili

Top with fresh avocado and tortilla strips, sour cream and minced cilantro for authentic flavour.

 

Tomato Bisque with Basil

Add indulgence with sour cream, tomato concasse or fresh basil.

 

Vegan Vegetable

Add freshness with julienned carrots, diced smoked or sautéed tomatoes, and roasted red peppers in balsamic syrup.

 

By Alison Kent

 

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Lady enjoying a sandwich and Cavendish fries while another unseen guest eats fries and steak

Cavendish Farms is a family food company that puts pride and dedication into everything they grow and make. Their varied product lines include clear coat, fine coat, and fresh cut fries; medallions; breakfast potatoes and more.

 

Cavendish is breaking down the advantages and benefits of both fresh cut and clear coat fries. Each option has low operating costs, consistent quality and taste, and the "crispy" factor—the #1 attribute of a great French fry.²

 

Cavendish FreshCut Fries

Restaurants that cut their own fries find that their costs are higher and the consistency of their fries are lower compared to restaurants that by a quality frozen product.

These are the top 10 reasons an operator drops hand-cut fries from their menu:

 

Too much labour - 38%
Difficult to keep consistent flavour - 34%
Takes too long to prepare - 31%
Found a frozen product of quality - 28%
Too much waste - 14%
Too difficult - 12%
Customers can't tell the difference - 10%
Other - 9%
Requires too much fridge space - 9%
Too expensive - 7%

 

Benefits

Available 3/8”, 7/16”, Shoestring, Slim Steak cut sizes, small/large diced and chips
Available Dark Red Norland, Kennebec and Russet potato varieties


On trend

  • Satisfy your customers’ desire for clean eating, simple ingredients and a made-from-scratch look
  • Consistency- Enjoy the advantages of a consistent, premium quality frozen fry year-round
  • Taste - Nothing beats the taste of fresh. Our FreshCut fries and chips are made from premium potato varieties to offer authentic taste
     

The FreshCut Advantage over cutting your own:

  • Greater yield per pound, no waste
  • Eliminate the need to blanch
  • Lower operating costs with less oil consumption
  • Year-round consistent quality
  • Cut cook time by up to 60%
  • No additional labour costs; simply fry and serve

 

Satisfy your customers’ growing demand for “real food” with Cavendish Farms® FreshCut. These premium skin-on fries and chips are the smart choice to deliver fresh, authentic potato taste.

 

Enjoy all the advantages of consistent, premium quality frozen fries available year-round. Straight from freezer to fryer, there are no extra labour costs. Get more servings per pound and use significantly less oil.

 

Clear Coat Fries

Cavendish clear coat fries with steak and veggies

Customers love golden fries with a real buttery taste and that’s exactly what Clear Coat delivers.

 

Clear Coat offers the perfect blend of hold time and crispness that will ensure your customers have the perfect fry!

 

Benefits

  • Available 3/8”, 7/16”, Shoestring and Slim Steak cut sizes
  • Available in regular and sweet potato varieties
  • Great for delivery - Off premise restaurant visits are up 7%1. Coated fries are perfect for take-out or delivery because their coating keeps them crispy in transit.
  • Stay hot and crispy - Coated fries stay hot and crispy longer than traditional fries.
  • #1 attribute - When asked to name the #1 attribute of a great French fry, an overwhelming majority of consumers answered “crispiness.”2
  • Coated frozen potato products have grown +8% in Foodservice in Canada over the past year3.

For 20 years, Cavendish Farms® has been a leader in coated fries. Their proprietary recipe ensures these fries provide an unbeatable taste every time.
 

NEW from Cavendish: DeliverCrisp™ Fries 

  • Exceptionally crispy
  • Superior hold time
  • Consistent quality
  • Crunchy texture
  • Quick preparation time
  • Minimum breakage
  • More profit

Promoting DeliverCrisp™ fries adds profit that helps offset delivery costs!

55% of restaurant delivery occasions are incremental, often replacing cooking at home. Fries are playing a profitable role on menus, and are the fastest-growing item on delivery orders.

 

Learn more about DeliverCrisp™ here, reach out to your Flanagan sales representative, or contact us.
 

Taste the goodness of the farm

Cavendish Farms is proud of their food. That’s why they use only premium ingredients and seasonings. You know you’re eating a Cavendish Farms potato or crispy appetizer when you taste the goodness of the farm in every bite.

 

 

Cavendish Farms logo

 

Article provided by Cavendish Farms®

For more information about Cavendish Farms products, speak to your Territory Manager, call Customer Relations, or visit www.cavendishfarms.com.

 

Sources:

NEILSEN: INGREDIENT STUDY AUGUST 2016 (Top 10 Reasons Operator Drops Hand-Cut Fries)
NPD CREST CANADA YE AUGUST 2017
CAVENDISH FARMS CLP RESEARCH, APRIL 2015
NPD POTATO TRACK YE DECEMBER 2018

 

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Colourful biodegradable straws in a row

 

A compostable straw option, biodegradable straws oxo-biodegrade rapidly after disposal and will subsequently oxo-biodegrade with no harmful residues. When discarded in soil in the presence of microorganisms, moisture, and oxygen, the straws will achieve 60% oxo-biodegradation, decomposing into simple materials found in nature within 20 to 24 months.³

 

It’s estimated that Canadians use more than 50 million plastic straws every day (typically for only a few minutes).¹ These straws then live in landfills and in the earth’s oceans for hundreds of years.

 

More than 330,000 pieces of plastic waste were picked off of 2,800 kilometers of Canada’s shoreline in 2017, including more than 15,000 straws.² Sea birds, fish, and sea turtles are among the three marine animals hurt most by the discarding of plastic straws. Because straws are relatively small, it’s not likely that they are properly recycled once consumed. In fact, 91% of plastic within Canada is not recycled.¹

 

Canadians are becoming more conscious of the single-use plastic problem, and some operators have taken a stand and banned plastic straws altogether (like The Last Straw initiative on April 21, 2018 by Last Straw Canada).

 

Though it is possible to completely evade the use of straws within a foodservice establishment, it may not be that simple or feasible. Consider a more mindful approach and shift the perspective of your customers, too.

 

An alternative to completely banning the use of straws—and reducing the environmental impact of single-use non-degradable plastic products—is the use of Stone Straw’s biodegradable straw products.

 

Promote the use of your biodegradable straws as an alternative to single-use plastic. Be not only on-trend (or ahead of the curve), but positively perceived as an environmentally-conscious operation.

 

Advertise Your Biodegradable Straws

1. Website

Feature your decision somewhere easily visible on the hub of your digital presence; your website.

Some restaurants have a lightbox pop up within seconds that describes the harmful effects of plastic on our planet, and their decision to use biodegradable straws as a way to reduce their plastic footprint.

 

2. Social Media

Spread the word on your social media accounts and maybe consider creating a clever hashtag for your initiative.

 

Run a social media contest for customers who post a picture of their biodegradable straw beverage; participants can be entered in a draw to win a gift card to your restaurant. The photos spread your restaurant’s name across guests’ own social channels and starts a positive conversation at the same time.

 

3. Table Tents

Educate guests as soon as they’re seated.

 

4. Wait Staff

When taking beverage orders, have your wait staff ask guests which straw they’d prefer. Coupled with your table tent and any other promotion customers may have seen, it could help them make a conscious decision to choose biodegradable.

 

¹ laststrawtoronto.ca, Last Straw Canada
² CBC.ca, 'Banning Plastic Straws'
³ As described in American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) D5988

 

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Hot water being poured into a tea cup

 

1. Tea has great health benefits

Studies have shown that drinking tea may reduce a variety of diseases and health problems, thanks largely to the antioxidant catechin.

 

2. Tea is better linked to weight loss

Black, Green and White teas all contain theaflavins and thearubigins speculated to slow weight gain. They are also made up of compounds from the Camellia sinensis plant that boost your metabolism and are estimated to burn an extra 50 calories a day.

 

Green tea is proven to be helpful in naturally losing fat—particularly, the harmful, abdominal fat. This is due to the caffeine and the antioxidant ECGG (Epigallocatechin gallate) contained in green tea, which collectively boost the metabolism.

 

3. Tea is proven to reduce stress

Coffee can stimulate the cascade of hormones and increase cortisol levels (a stress hormone), exacerbating the stress response. Many teas contain calming ingredients, mainly L-theanine, which can be found in any of Higgins & Burke Naturals™ black, green and oolong teas.

 

4. Tea is better for your teeth

Coffee has been found to erode tooth enamel. According to Japanese researchers, tea does not contribute to tooth enamel erosion. In fact, it can help decrease tooth loss by changing the pH levels in your mouth and has been linked to preventing cavities.

 

5. Especially in the colder months, tea can improve the immune system.

Teas that are rich in the antioxidant polyphenols, like green tea, are known to be powerful immune boosters.

 

Article provided by Higgins & Burke Naturals.™

 

Higgins & Burke products

 

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Drizzling sauce over a steak dish

 

Chef Technologist Paul Torrance oversees bloom. restaurant at the Waterloo campus of Conestoga College. As a certified Chef de Cuisine who teaches in the school’s culinary program, Torrance sees sauces as critical to boosting the value of virtually any dish, and at the same time, helping showcase your restaurant and the cooks who work there.

 

Sauces turn the ordinary into the extraordinary, where a humble chicken breast can evolve quickly and inexpensively into a finer dish.

 

Sauce doesn’t need to be difficult, and there are alternatives. Though the thought of sauces scares some operators—either they don’t have the time or the skill and knowledge in the kitchen—sauces can increase your bottom line. They aren’t just for high-end dining, either. Use a wide variety of sauces like basil pestos and aïolis for paninis; it's the sauces like these which can turn any item into your signature sandwiches.

 

Trending sauces that closely resemble popular condiments (such as aïoli, mayonnaise, and mustard) have been revived to top everything from flavourful cuts of meat to vegetables to pizza. Sriracha’s popularity continues to influence chefs and foodservice operators to find the next hot (literally and figuratively) global sauce.

 

Fruit sauces are also being modernized with savoury and spicy infusions. Think bright citrus with miso and soy sauce, and sweet pineapple combined with fiery habanero flavour. Fruit sauces featured on menus are also great seasonal indicators. It’s another valuable way to promote support of local farmers and commitment to ingredient freshness.

 

According to Torrance, there is a comfort-food appeal to sauces in that great chefs just about anywhere will recall “sauce with food” memories growing up as a cook, including simple sauces like Hollandaise or mayonnaise. There may only be three or four ingredients, but it’s more the technique and skill to produce it that makes the difference.

It’s important to remember that presentation matters, too. Customers “eat with their eyes first,” and though the sauce might be last on the plate, it is the first thing the diner notices.

 

Top 4 trending sauces in Ontario:

  1. Red Wine Jus
  2. Sesame Sauce
  3. Mango Sauce
  4. Worcestershire
  5. Top 5 fastest-growing sauces in Canada:
  6. Mignonette Sauce
  7. Chickpea
  8. Halibut
  9. Fennel
  10. Bechamel

 

Technomic Menu Monitor; Canadian operator purchases, 52 weeks ending September 2017.

 

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Grille and Galley beauty shot of cooked steak

Brian Hopkins is excited. Flanagan’s Vice President of Sales and Marketing has seen the new Flanagan’s Grille & Galley Gourmet line launch with unprecedented impact. In fact, says Hopkins, every customer who has been shown the new line “has become a client of Grille & Galley”—every one!

 

Grille & Galley Gourmet is Flanagan’s brand of fresh, superior quality meat and seafood. In more technical terms, it is “a fresh portioned protein program.”  For restaurant owners, Grille & Galleyis a one-package answer to a whole menu of challenges.

 

For consumers, it means great steak, pork and chicken, and superb seafood.

 

Flanagan’s launched Grille & Galley in the fall of 2009. The program is designed to fill a need felt by the company and their customers. Today, Grille & Galley customers can order exactly the fresh meat and seafood they want—size, cut, and all—and it will be delivered fresh, not frozen, within 48 hours.

 

The steaks are superior quality—Triple A or better—and aged for at least 30 days. The seafood (salmon, mahi-mahi, lobster, shellfish and more) is fresh and packed in coolers. “They’re all,” says Hopkins, “high-end products.”

 

Flanagan’s Marketing Representative Jackie Oakes says that there are several important advantages for Flanagan customers in addition to being able to access the best meat and seafood they will find anywhere. Customers can “customize” their orders. If they want 8 ½ ounce steaks, or 11 ounce steaks, they can order exactly that. This provides great marketing opportunities, and allows restaurateurs to “differentiate themselves from their competition.”

 

Oakes notes, as well, that the meat is packed in small boxes to “maximize your counter space.”

 

Hopkins says that the Grille & Galley products appeal to “all our clients who want to serve a high quality product,” including restaurants that offer fine dining, or family dining with a range of options... “anyone from the mid-range to high-end restaurants.”

 

Utilizing the new, fresh meat and seafood supplies requires only a minimal amount of menu planning and program projection, says Hopkins. Restaurants need to order 48 hours in advance, but Flanagan’s guarantees that all such orders will be met.

 

He is confident that all clients–and their dining customers–will be thrilled with the food. “Response has been excellent,” he says. “The cuts are fabulous. The quality is ‘melt in your mouth.’”

 

There are clear advantages for customers. They can customize their order, and the products are perfectly prepared. For example, the steaks are not only well aged, they are expertly trimmed, ready to be the “center of the plate” highlight. Hopkins notes that many restaurant operators face serious challenges in obtaining high quality meat, properly and professionally prepared and trimmed. “For restaurants today, quality butchers are simply not available.” Many kitchens have to carry out those tasks in house, and not always is there a staffer on hand with the expertise to prepare and present high end cuts. The result is often excess waste - which has already been paid for!

 

Those problems are now fully solved in the Grille & Galley products.

 

Hopkins, Oakes and the Flanagan team are determined to make Grille & Galley a significant part of Flanagan’s overall business, but they aren’t daunted by the challenge. Hopkins firmly believes a customer will only have to try Grille & Galley products once to become firm believers in the program. “The quality is the key to repeat customers,” he says - both from Flanagan’s perspective, and from the perspective of restaurants looking to build their repeat customer base.

 

Grille and Galley steak, salmon and chicken beauty shots

 

To date, the most popular Grille & Galley products are steaks and salmon. There’s a lot more on the menu, but Hopkins and Oakes expect those choices to remain at the top of the charts. Once diners sample a Grille & Galley steak or salmon dinner, they are going to come back for the superior quality.

 

The launch of Grille & Galley came without a lot of fanfare. Hopkins says that Flanagan’s sales representatives were introduced to the new line last fall at a tasting seminar, and then started taking the new line to clients.

 

Business has blossomed, and Grille & Galley will be prominent at the spring Flanagan Food Show, with a major booth and samples hot off the grille.

 

Hopkins hopes that clients become as excited as he is about Grille & Galley. He sees the new line as an important growth opportunity for Flanagan’s. “We want to make sure Flanagan’s becomes known for quality meat products. We’re seeing this as a whole new category for us. It’s going to take us in a new direction. We’re anticipating that Grille & Galley will become one of our major products.”

 

“Coupled with our distribution expertise and dedication, this will take us well into the future.”

 

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Burger on a plate

 

Young and old, now and then, hamburgers continue to be enjoyed by just about everyone. The humble patty of ground beef started in the seaport of Hamburg, Germany, set sail one day and likely made its North American debut at Delmonico's in New York as early as 1834. What a journey it's been.

 

Today, the hamburger remains solid diner fare (at a few bucks a pop) and at the same time has become an upscale luxury food (at $20 stuffed with Stilton or $40 for a Wagyu beef version). No matter how it's prepared, the hamburger is a harbinger of summer as it sears and sizzles its BBQ aroma across neighbourhoods and on busy restaurant patios.

 

It doesn't stop there. Obviously the best hamburger starts off with the best beef available: that we have known from decades of experience that indicates to us the continued mass appeal of burgers.

 

Yet, while it stoutly maintains its presence as a backyard-grill staple and roadhouse regular, hamburgers are getting quite a going over, according to Nancie Lillie, district sales manager at Flanagan Foodservice. It's a combined effort with inventive chefs who want to differentiate their product from a mass-produced one, but it is also diners who are looking for exciting new renditions of a childhood favourite.

 

"From what I see, burgers are trending in this way. Restaurants are starting to offer more than the regular beef burgers including good veggie burgers, chicken burgers, and even tuna burgers. We're also seeing meats like lamb and bison more and more."

 

Quantitative research supports the anecdotal evidence we hear about $40 Kobe beef burgers, says Shawn Barrette of Maple Leaf Foodservice.

 

"We are seeing reports like those from Technomic that, I quote, cite consumers are relying now more than ever on restaurants to provide value in hamburgers through what it calls premiumization."

 

Technomic reports that, when choosing a burger, 75% of consumers ranked quality of meat as the first or second most important characteristic.

 

Price points have gone up in some respects, says Lillie, but always with a significant value that is added by grinding and blending the meat-mix in-house and forming the burger by hand. That's something that attracts customers' attention and is a good way for a restaurant to differentiate itself from the crowd.

 

"The toppings are unique and move away from Cheddar and bacon, too" she explains.

Barrette adds that the burger category has expanded as well to include sandwiches and wraps and they continue to grow in popularity because they are accessible to many a dining demographic, and they remain affordable.

 

"We are catering to the demand for premium burgers that deliver hearty texture, prime-rib flavour and a succulent bite in five-ounce and eight-ounce sizes. On the fully cooked side, we have Angus burgers which offer a premium flavour and texture, and provide operators with more consistent quality and reduced food safety risks."

 

Different meats, whether it's Angus, pork, turkey or elk, can accompany the regular favourite, beef. But the use of one of those proteins in your burger will immediately say to a customer perusing your menu that things are new and dynamic at your establishment.

 

The "Customization-Factor"

That's the burger-key. Whatever cut it is, burgers offer an important and inexpensive "customization-factor:" they can be dressed up gourmet-style or chug along quite happily in standard format with the topping-trinity of ketchup, mustard, and relish.

 

"Customization means finding your own burger niche," Lillie says. "And toppings can be the key. The Australians put pickled beets on hamburgers like we would use a dill pickle."

 

Those toppings, in fact, have become the crowning achievement of the "new" old hamburger: traditional or iconoclastic, the sky is the limit. Hamburgers, points out Barrette by way of the American restaurant chain Cheesecake Factory, can become "glamburgers" with basic melted Cheddar or with pulled pork and coleslaw. Otherwise, it might be dried cranberries, fried eggs, chili, roasted corn and black bean salsa, he notes.

 

There are a variety of sauces ranging from apricot to spicy sour cream, not to mention a unique Canadian favourite back bacon, or blue cheese or fiery Thai seasonings.

 

"It might be provolone cheese or avocados on top. Grilled pineapple is popular, which tells me that people are really running with burgers to make them different," Lillie says.

 

And as burgers continue to capture diners' imaginations with new flavours, toppings, and buns, it is their classic popularity that keeps calling out customers' names, suggests Lillie.

 

"Who doesn't like a burger whether it's a beef burger or one of the many more exotic burgers? People just love a fresh burger. It's a comfort food that when cooked right, and at the right price, appeals to everybody."

 

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Image of Frape & Sons Boutique Bitters

Nestled just one hour north of Toronto in Newmarket, Ontario, is a unique food business that is one of the newest additions to the Flanagan Market.

 

What makes Frape and Sons unique is that, to owner Justin Frape’s knowledge, it is the only excise-exempt craft distillery in Canada. The distillery dedicatedly produces craft cocktail bitters for domestic and international markets.

 

Equipped with brewing and distillation equipment from the hills of Kentucky and Tennessee, Frape and Sons makes batches of no more than 500 bottles at a time using ingredients local to the province of Ontario.

 

Mr. Frape, Chief Executive and Head Distiller, has been an avid fan of craft spirits for many years, but a nudge from his lawyer (of all people!) opened up his mind to the possibility of producing distilled spirits using local ingredients.

 

In the fall of 2014, Justin decided to make the jump and purchased an all-copper column reflux still from a coppersmith in Ballard County, Kentucky and grain mashing and brewing equipment was sourced from Knoxville, Tennessee.

 

Frape and Sons was born in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada when the first distilled spirit base started pouring into a finishing jug on the evening of May 3rd, 2015 in the presence of Justin, his wife Katherine, and a very curious neighbor who had been following the progression of the distillery.

 

Frape & Sons are distillers of craft cocktail bitters. Be careful to make the distinction, here; there are many formulators of bitters, who purchase bulk ethanol and steep botanicals and spices in the alcohol base. Frape and Sons are bitters distillers; they make their alcohol bases by hand with molasses from Ontario sugar refineries, local fruit and local grains. A hundred gallons of distiller's beer, which is the input for the still, will net them between five and eight gallons of alcohol base. It is relatively neutral following distillation, but it could hardly be described as smooth; they prefer single pass distillations for the character that they impart to the bitters.

 

What is unusual about Frape & Sons compared to many bitters producers is that they don’t use neutral spirits in their formulations; the alcohol bases play as much a role in the flavours as the botanicals. The resulting bitters have been described as a little boozy - but not overpoweringly so - with a very clean finish.

 

Frape & Sons bitters have broad culinary and beverage applications, and features botanicals from the boreal forests of northwestern Ontario, the fruits of food producers from the city of Thunder Bay, and water from Lake Superior, the world’s largest freshwater lake.

 

Purchase boutique bitters from Frape & Sons:

Find their products on Flanagan Market, Flanagan's e-commerce platform connecting you directly to local Ontario producers and more than 600 Ontario items.

Learn about Flanagan Market here and sign up to the platform here.

 

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Fresh sandwich on a white table

 

Sandwiches—like other versatile items such as salads, burgers, pasta and pizza—are constantly evolving to keep up with seasonality and trends. These appear on menus more often than any other dish.

 

As of 2017, sandwiches currently penetrate 71% casual dining, 74% midscale, and 69% fast casual operators, according to Technomic data.

 

The fastest growing sandwich flavours/ingredients on Canadian menus are basil, guacamole, Cajun, honey and applewood. Fastest growing breads are whole wheat wraps, brioche, hoagie, roti (Indian flatbread) and French bread.

 

Use these six ideas as inspiration for your existing sandwich menu:

 

1. Better for you

Simply choosing healthier alternatives to your existing ingredients can elevate your sandwich from delicious to delicious and “free-of-additives” or “made with chicken raised without antibiotics.” Your menu now appeals to health-conscious consumers who are mindful of what they eat.

 

2. Go global

Croque Monsieur (grilled ham and cheese) is undoubtedly one of the heartiest, indulgent sandwiches around, and is easily up- or down-scaled by altering the ingredients. Add Dijon mustard or a hint of sweetness with sliced pineapple or Granny Smith apples.

 

3. Stay local

Similar to “better for you” claims on sandwiches, local identifiers in menu descriptions are a major selling point. Why not build that classic Croque Monsieur using Ontario ingredients?

 

4. Elevate bread

Turkey and cheddar is fairly standard – but what about a turkey and cheddar sandwich on an onion baguette or pretzel loaf? An unexpected bread style is suddenly unique and stands out from the crowd.

 

5. ...Or, eliminate bread altogether

Consider eliminating bread altogether to appeal to gluten-free or carb-conscious consumers. Replace grains with cucumbers, tomato slices, or lettuce wraps, or simply offer other alternatives to bread such as wraps, paninis, or pitas.

 

6. Slide away

These small sandwiches pack big flavour–offering a smaller version of your most popular sandwich creates the perfect appetizer (or “two-to-go” as a lunch item).

 

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