Lessons from the Mediterranean: How Plating More International Flavors Can Increase Food Traffic

There is a place that produces dishes seasoned with craveable, mouthwatering spices, grains, spreads and sauces packed with unique flavors that are desired and consumed around the world. It’s called the Mediterranean. And, it’s the place from where the experts at Grecian Delight cull their insights, recipes, standards for quality & authenticity and combines that with decades of foodservice and retail experience. The Mediterranean also produces many of the menu items that consumers are demanding right now.

Ethnic food is a mainstream phenomenon. Emerging global cuisines are opening up a whole new world of culinary experiences to American consumers of all ages, due to the nearly infinite range of ingredients, forms and flavors they offer.

The New Generation of Restaurant Patrons

Younger people, particularly millennials and Generation Z, have set the stage by eating new foods and wanting to build their palate with bolder flavors. This younger age group is showing the older generations how to eat and explore new cuisines. With 62 percent of consumers responding that they purchase ethnic or ethnic inspired foods from restaurants and other foodservice locations at least once a month[1], this trend continues to grow and offers operators in all segments an easy way to keep up with their customers’ needs and differentiate themselves from menus stuck with the same old fare.

The increased rise in popularity for Modern Mediterranean provides a lucky break for foodservice operators because Mediterranean flavors are extremely adaptable to other cuisines. Many ethnic menus are open for international cross-flavoring that complement the bold seasonings and flavors from the Mediterranean, particularly through its sauces and spreads.

Add Excitement with Sauces

Mediterranean sauces and spreads make other dishes pop. In fact, there is a rise in consumer interest in Mediterranean/Mexican fusion items and concepts[2]. To accommodate this growing trend, Grecian Delight recently launched Jalapeno Hummus to capitalize on the growing popularity of Mediterranean through Texas and the Southwest, and to blend together some of the leading flavors of this new trend with regional favorites.

Eateries of all styles and service methods can implement Mediterranean ideas for optimum value. For QSRs, international street foods are a great fit with the portability and accessibility of most quick-service concepts. To fit with traditional American dining concepts, adding some Mediterranean flair with a bread carrier like a pita or flatbread is a great idea.  Recent Grecian Delight flatbread portfolio additions capitalize on this opportunity for international fusion flavor and portability with introductions to the 9 inch wrap line like Cilantro Lime and Red Chile flavors. Sauce additions like a feta, hummus or Harissa sauce, to menu staples can also be a fun way to add big flavor to a quick service item and drive new traffic.

Snacks & Shareables

For full-service operators, Mediterranean doesn’t just provide the trending tastes and flavors consumers are looking for, it also engages consumers in a style of eating. Mediterranean’s mezze concept encourages diners to share food among their friends, families, or associates.

Particularly popular with millennials and Generation Z, this unique serving style allows those at the table to share, sample and experiment with different flavors. What has made this style popular in the Mediterranean, and that many Americans have yet to realize or embrace, is that when the flavors, food and dishes are flowing around the table, so too are the good times. For operators interested in utilizing mezza platters, using Gyro or Shawarma meat with mini Flatwraps or Pita wedges enable more experimentation and trial of those items than is possible with full sandwiches. Falafel with dipping sauces is also a great addition to give a plant-based protein boost to these shareable platters.

The versatility of Mediterranean cuisine is undeniable. And operators would be wise to take notice of this emerging culinary trend, and take these lessons to heart to indulge the adventurous side of a customer base growing more experimental every year.

[1] “3 new ethnic food trends making menu waves”, Restaurant Business Online, 3/22/18
[2] Datassential’s Creative Concepts: Mashups, April 2018