Chef's Blog

February 14, 2016

An App that Hits on All Cylinders


I wanted to share a new appetizer/sharable plate concept from one of our latest ideation sessions. I call it the Party Sampler Platter.

I love this concept as a diner and as an operator. From a guest perspective, I love the idea of being able to sample a larger variety of menu items in smaller portions. It makes this somewhat unique and adventurous because you’re given a variety of sauces and dippable items to mix and match. And look at these numbers: According to Datassential’s SCORES report, 98% of respondents to an independent survey of 1,000 people indicated that would be very likely to try this item.

Diners have the ability to personalize and can have the freedom to be more exploratory with some of the selections—without the fear of fully committing to something new. Never had red Thai curry? Give it a try (you’re going to love it!), but if it’s not your cup of tea there are four more sauces you can choose to complete your platter. It makes ordering for group easy because you don’t have to cater to the lowest common denominator. Everybody wins!

From an operator perspective, this is a great opportunity to fully utilize your existing inventory, boost check averages, and create signature dishes beyond the sampler platter. There are some really awesome, creative, and profitable dippables available on the market nowadays. By adding a couple new items to your existing menu selections you can really add some pop to the dippables portion of this menu concept.

To build, I recommend a combo of 6-8 items: unique fries, house-made chips, tater tots, jalapeno bottle caps, or onion pedals. The best part is they never go bad. Then take your existing condiment selection to the next level.

A good place to start is the Minor’s Plus-One Ingredient Matrices. There’s a plus-one matrix for shelf-stable Ready-to-Use (RTU) Sauces and one for refrigerated Flavor Concentrates. Now that Minor’s bases are ready-to-eat, you can add a touch of savory umami to any cold condiment or dish using your favorite Ready to Flavor™ bases.

By adding just a little base or flavor concentrate you can take any run-of-the-mill commodity and turn it into a premium sauce that adds value to your menu items. Cowboy Ketchup (Minor’s chipotle flavor concentrate + ketchup), Bacon Blue Cheese (blue cheese dressing + Minor’ s bacon base), Smoky Honey Mustard Sauce (honey mustard + Minor’s ham base) are all as simple as whisking 2 ingredients together. Add some Minor’s General Tso’s or Red Thai Curry RTU Sauces and you’re well on your way to a signature appetizer.

As an operator I always featured a shareable appetizer (suitable for 3-4 people) because it’s a way entice a group customers who were on the fence about whether to order appetizers or not. I found it’s much easier to get a group of 4 to order one sampler type platter than to order two appetizers. By menuing just one shareable app you’ll increase the frequency of appetizer orders overall. It’s like found money.

Lastly, now that you have 10 ‘house-made’ sauces (be sure to menu it that way) in your pantry how do you maximize their value? Use them to create other signature dishes. Take a grilled chicken sandwich and add smoky honey mustard, ham, and Swiss for a delicious Cordon Bleu. Or add umami mushroom aioli and crispy onion pedals to your sliders for signature twist. It’s not an entirely new idea, but what is new is the ability to truly customize your condiments with a wide array of bold flavors.

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