Humans have used fire to cook food since the dawn of time! Cultures around the world use grills to make delicious dishes, and people just can’t get enough. BBQ has proven itself to be more than just a trend: it’s a staple cuisine.
While many people associate BBQ with summertime, restaurants can leverage their grills all year long. Here are Chef Brown’s tips for exploring new approaches and diversifying your menu … using fire.
4 ways to showcase BBQ on your menu
- Please crowds with tradition: Homestyle BBQ techniques make consumers feel at home, and are great for appealing to the masses. Lean on local, traditional flavours that people already know and love! During the winter, you can spotlight BBQ dishes as a “taste of summer” special, while promoting the preserved fruits and vegetables you made during the summer: try serving grilled preserved peaches with Fior di Latte cheese for dessert.
- Tap into your uniqueness: Create your signature flavour profile by playing with heat levels, trying unique wood chips, and even adding fresh herb stems to the fire. Elevate different menu items – like this chicken parmigiana burger – on the grill, and experiment with grill-friendly cheese varieties like Haloumi and feta.
- Celebrate the process: Share your preparation process with your customers. Do you brine, cure, dry age, marinate, or slow cook your ingredients? Do you make your own sauces, grow your own vegetables, or partner with local brands? These details give your dishes an artisanal vibe and make customers feel more connected to your food.
- Finish on a high note: Use the grill as a finishing touch for different dishes. With ossobuco, for example, you can either grill the meat before cooking it or take it out of the sauce for a quick char. For beef bourguignon, you can char the meat instead of pan-searing it. Experiment with grilling as a finisher for slow-cooked meals and classic recipes too!
Using the grill to maximize your revenue
Focus on more profitable ingredients
Lower-cost vegetables and proteins can be elevated by masterful grilling and seasoning. When paired with the right cheese, they can easily be transformed into a higher-margin dish.
- Root vegetables go well with flavourful cheeses, like soft fresh goat cheese, Cheddar, Raclette, Gorgonzola, and Bleubry. You could use an emptied and grilled squash as a bowl for cheese fondue, or add goat cheese crumbles on top of grilled beets.
- Use fresh cheeses to complement acidic vegetables like tomatoes or cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts. Try dipping some broccoli in balsamic vinegar, then grilling it and topping it with fresh mozzarella cheese, such as Fior di Latte or Bocconcini.
- Fruits like apples, peaches, pineapple, berries, and bananas also work well with fresh cheeses – particularly Mascarpone and Ricotta. We love these grilled angel food cake and grilled Haloumi cheese cocktail garnish inspirations.
- Chicken pairs well with salty cheeses like feta, Haloumi, and goat cheese. Go big on savoury flavours by melting goat cheese medallions on top of chicken while it’s still on the grill.
- Use sweet or nutty cheeses to jazz up pork dishes – like Grana Padano.
Think beyond the grill
You can use the grill to sell lots of delicious foods in addition to your regular menu!
- This summer, sell ready-to-grill kits for small groups (5-10 people), so customers can entertain friends in the backyard without spending time alone inside doing prep. These kits are an innovative approach to meeting clients’ needs in an easy, practical way.
- Prepare marinated skewers for people to grill at home, from meat-based options to Haloumi cheese skewers.
- Sell pre-seasoned BBQ sides, like root vegetable purées, with soft fresh goat cheese crumbles on top.
- Offer ready-to-grill papillotes that include vegetables, a protein, and a cheese.
- For those who don’t own a BBQ but want a similar taste, marinate and lightly smoke certain dishes, then let customers finish them in the oven.
- Sell your signature BBQ spice mix so people can use it at home and provide inspiration for additional uses, like a rub for Haloumi cheese skewers.
- Sell bottles of your homemade BBQ sauce, hot sauce, marinade, or compound butter. You can sell them on your website, in-store, and even feature them at other local shops.
The grill can add depth and character to simple ingredients, and is a wonderful tool to cook with year-round. Our chef’s advice: always look to create contrast with flavours, colours, and textures. Cheese checks every box!
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