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Just Like Mama Made It

August 4, 2021

“Just like mama made it.” We’re all familiar with this phrase, but when it comes to developing menu items, it can be an interesting benchmark for flavor and texture.  At Custom Culinary®, we are all about being true to the food which includes trying to offer the most authentic experience possible. Authenticity, of course, is a subjective term as everyone has grown up with different exposures and experiences. But in so many ways, there are specific procedures, traditions, and ingredients that identify a food to its historical origin. Through the month of August, we are focusing on our seventh top trend of 2021, Experience Asia, getting familiar with the nuances of Asian cuisine, including a deeper dive into regional fare revealing differences in technique and featured ingredients. What better time to discuss getting to the root of authentic, globally-inspired offerings?
 
This topic of authenticity is especially interesting as we continue to navigate the pandemic. Connection to family has been particularly difficult but so important. We’ve seen many U.S. citizens and immigrants look to cultural traditions, which includes food, to feel connected. “Engaging in traditions and practices of one’s cultural heritage can be a psychologically meaningful experience that can engender feelings of connection,” says Professor Sumie Okazaki, a professor of applied psychology at New York University. “It is, indeed, possible to learn and connect to your ancestral culture from afar using foods and cultural celebrations,” says Dr. Gail M. Ferguson, an associate professor at Institute of Child Development, University of Minnesota, who studies how people learn about their cultural heritage from a distance. “These efforts do have psychological and emotional benefits that could be especially helpful during this pandemic, when our usual sources of connection and support are diminished.”1 Being able to offer a dish that immediately churns up emotions and memories is a surefire way to create an extraordinary dining experience with your restaurant.
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Sixty-two percent of consumers say food should be “authentic,” prepared just as it is in its home country.2 So how do you get there? When it comes to tasting just like home, there’s no better sound board than those who have lived it. Meeting with those born of the specific heritage, getting one-on-one lessons on a related technique, or having an official tasting panel are just a few ways to reach the most authentic version of your dishes. Some operators have been putting these methods to work for years, even in College and University where foodservice is an essential piece of recruitment and campus satisfaction. Tasting panels with members from the same culture as the dish have been utilized to make sure that the experience in the dining hall is as close to home as possible, especially for students who hail from the culture.
 
The most powerful menus are those that tell a thoughtful story about foods, flavors, and the methods that bring it all to life. Staying true to your menu is important, but if wanting to bring in authentic global cuisines, look for the connection points between your current offerings, global flavors, and your guests’ interests. Take the extra steps to educate yourself and your guests on the inspiration, methods, preparation styles, and ingredient origins. We’re here to help you dive in with consumer insights, menu concepts, and more, while also offering our Gold Label and Custom Culinary® product lines, filled with everything from ready-to-use sauces to Asian broths. These brands were created to give diners authentic meal experiences without the time or labor required to make complex soups and sauces from scratch.

Hope to hear from you soon!

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Joe Beitzel
Brand Marketing Director
Custom Culinary, Inc.


1 Feet in Two Worlds, How Reconnecting with Our Immigrant Roots Can Help Us Survive 2021, January 2021
2 Datassential, COVID-19 Research quoted in 2021 Big Picture Factors, June 2021