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American Regional

May 25, 2016

One of my favorite reasons why I love living in Southern California, is that from a cuisine perspective the area is one of the most culturally diverse regions in the United States. From the late night hot dog vendors who set up their carts outside of various clubs and bars in Los Angeles, Vietnamese “mom and pop” noodle shops serving steaming bowls of Pho in Westminster, to watching Danish ebelskivers being griddled in Solvang, there is never a shortage of ways to find culinary inspiration. With the constant change and evolution of culture, global, and ethnic influences; regional menu offerings tend to follow suit. While being able to learn from different cuisines and cultures, it is important that we not forget the historical significance of what makes each of the seven US regions unique and distinct. As a chef, to me this is an extremely important detail.  

Rediscovering regional American food is all about the celebration of heirloom recipes and cooking techniques which are derived from specific areas in the United States (Pacific Northwest, Southwest, Deep South, Midwest, Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, and Southeast). America is a melting pot of people, as well as a melting pot of flavors. As the idea of what ‘American’ food becomes more blurred, hundreds of years of culinary tradition will continue to act as the predominant driver flavors in a region’s culinary identity. Rediscovering dishes which blend tradition and culture, redefines what American cuisine stands for. Someone coming from the Deep South may favor dishes with charred spice and more heat packed into them, while someone from the Pacific Northwest might favor dishes with more grains and wild-caught fish. Each region has its own unique traditions and its own unique flavors, which vary even within the region.

When I think about how Chefs are inspired by cuisine that crosses time zones and geographic borders, it’s enlightening to see the evolution of American cuisine. One of my favorite Southwestern cooking methods involves using a “comal” – a smooth, flat griddle; it’s a great tool for toasting spices, searing meat, preparing tortillas, and more for a faster and a cleaner preparation. One of my favorite Southwestern ingredients is Nopal fruit – “prickly pear”, an ingredient commonly used in Mexican cuisine provides a tart flavor to dishes elevating traditional menu items. We are seeing a trend of heirloom recipes finding new life on the menu with modern touches, which strikes a balance between traditional preparation methods and contemporary ingredients. For example, by focusing on our newest branded product line which features craft toppings, we are easily able to make this trend come to life! 

Japaleno RelishPair it with a San Diego fish taco with cabbage slaw and crema
Bacon and Onion Marmalade: Place a generous spoonful onto a Kansas City pulled pork sandwich
Pale Ale Cheese Sauce: Serve it hot with artisan Wisconsin soft baked pretzels
Wild Mushroom Tapenade: Spread this over a wild caught Pacific Northwest salmon grilled on cedar plank
Harissa: Toss onto freshly fried Buffalo wings to add a spicy and smoky touch to this traditional dish

Please join us as we profile what ‘American’ food means in 2016!

Harness the power of umami to create menu items that are savory, craveable and rich in complex flavor. Commonly referred to as the fifth taste, umami describes the mouthwatering “meaty” quality of such ingredients as aged cheeses, roasted tomatoes and mushrooms, miso, soy and fish sauce. The flavors we perceive as umami indicate the presence of glutamates (amino acids) and ribonucleotides in that particular ingredient. While low levels of these compounds occur naturally in many raw foods, cooking techniques that break down proteins and glutamic acid intensify the effect of umami. And because umami counterbalances saltiness, operators can incorporate umami-packed ingredients as a way to create healthy, delicious dishes that are lower in sodium and calories.

Sun-dried tomatoes. Roasted mushrooms. Bacon and onion jam. These are just some of the ingredients that bring the “wow” factor of umami to dishes across your menu. Get inspired with our on-trend recipes!

  RECIPES featuring Custom Culinary®  branded products

Cheese Tortellini with Prosciutto Alfredo Pesto
Bold flavors shine in this creamy pasta dish, bringing an unexpected element of sun-dried tomato pesto to the forefront. View recipe

Bacon, Onion and Fig Croque-monsieur
This take on the classic French sandwich showcases our versatile Gold Label Bacon Onion Marmalade. View recipe

Garlic Grana Padano Chicken Wings
Put an elegant spin on the game-day staple with these seasoned grilled chicken wings. View recipe

Pulled Pork and Bacon Waffles with Wild Mushroom Red Eye Gravy
Capitalize on the savory waffle trend with this unique breakfast or brunch dish. View recipe

  MENU INSPIRATION featuring Custom Culinary®  proprietary products

Roasted Gochujang Wings
Double-fried chicken wings are dressed in savory, spicy Custom Culinary® Gochujang and Yellow Miso Sauce and topped with fried sliced garlic and green onion. Served with additional gochujang-miso sauce for dipping.

Pasta Puttanesca
Al dente spaghetti tossed in a rich Custom Culinary® Tomato and Kalamata Olive Jam, finished with freshly ground black pepper and grated Parmesan.

Savory Porchetta Sandwich
Pork belly rubbed in Custom Culinary® Black Garlic and Balsamic Vinegar Glaze and herbs, then rolled, roasted and thickly sliced, served on toasted ciabatta with shaved ricotta salata, sautéed broccolini and a cherry mostarda.

Pork Bolognese Flatbread
Herb-brined pork shoulder, braised in Alfredo sauce, then pulled and piled on crispy flatbread with fresh fennel, roasted grapes, chopped Italian parsley. Finished with a Custom Culinary® Black Truffle and Honey drizzle.

 From savory bases to completely customized glazes and sauces, we offer a wide range of products  that bring complex umami flavors to your menu items with ease. 



  • Black Garlic and Balsamic Vinegar Glaze
  • Kalamata Olive and Tomato Jam
  • Gochujang and Yellow Miso Sauce
  • Black Truffle and Honey Spread
  • Sweet Corn and Parmesan Spoonbread 

*Products are customized; please contact your Custom Culinary® representative for more information. 

In his latest blog post, Richard Reilly, CEC, AAC gives a rundown of the most  umami-packed ingredients, along with his favorite Custom Culinary® products that can help you capitalize on the trend. Read more

FlavorIQ® from Custom Culinary® is a revolutionary approach to product development. Our four-step process delivers fast, intelligent menu innovations to meet your needs. Click here to learn more about Custom Culinary® and FlavorIQ®.

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