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.
Dorothy Sanderson, Flanagan Territory Manager, agrees. She says sauces turn the ordinary into the extraordinary, where a humble chicken breast can evolve quickly and inexpensively into a finer dish.
Sanderson points out that sauce doesn’t need to be difficult, and there are alternatives. “Thinking of sauces scares some operators,” she said. “Either they don’t have the time or the skill and knowledge in the kitchen. But sauces can make you a lot of money.” They aren’t just for high-end dining, either. “I was working with a customer who is using a wide variety of sauces like basil pestos and aïolis for her panini. It’s the sauces like these which are making these her signature sandwiches,” Sanderson said.
Rich, butter-and-cream-based sauces are on their way out (for now), and so are time-consuming reduction sauces. 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.
* Hot includes: Frank’s Red Hot, Cholula Hot Sauce, Tabasco Sauce, etc.
** Grands includes: Hollandaise, Demi-Glace, Béchamel, Béarnaise
Canadian operator purchases, 52 weeks ending June 2016.