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What Chefs Want

Fresh & Flavorful Easter Menu Inspiration

By | Desserts, Easter, Fruit, Ham, Local, Local and Specialty, Meats, Pork, Poultry, Produce, Salads, Vegetables, What Chefs Want

Spring hasn’t sprung yet, but hopefully it will SOON, and with it comes the joyful celebration of Easter! It’s that egg-stra special time of the year when the world bursts into a kaleidoscope of colors and flavors, heralding new beginnings and fresh starts. As chefs we find ourselves inspired by the season’s bounty, eager to create menus that reflect the vibrancy of spring.

In this blog, we’re hopping into the kitchen to whip up an array of Easter dish menu inspo to impress your guests. From classic favorites to new twists on traditional dishes, we’ll explore menu options and then deliver all the fresh ingredients you need!


Starters

Deviled Eggs

A classic starter made with fresh eggs, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, and a dash of paprika. Perfect for Easter, these eggs symbolize new beginnings and are a hit for their creamy texture and savory taste. Get creative by adding a garnish of fresh herbs or a sprinkle of crispy bacon bits. Try piping the filling for an elegant touch.

  • Eggs – Non-GMO, Free-Range – 15 dozen – item #80005
  • Mayonnaise – Kewpie – 17oz bottle – item #90160
  • Dijon Mustard – Clovis – 12/7 oz – item #95211
  • Smoked Paprika – La Chinata – 750G – item #96619

Smoked Salmon Platter

The rich, velvety smoked salmon pairs beautifully with the tangy capers and the crisp bite of red onion. Spread a dollop of cream cheese on a cracker, top it with salmon and capers, and you’ve got yourself a bite-sized delight. For a creative twist, arrange the salmon in rose shapes – it’s a platter that’s as delightful to look at as it is to devour! Ideal for a spring menu, its light and refreshing taste pairs wonderfully with crisp white wines. Serve on artisan bread or blinis for an elegant touch.

  • Smoked Salmon – Kendall Brook – 2-3Lb – item #48725
  • Capers – Nonpareil – 32oz Jar – item #90508
  • Red Onion – Diced 2/5 Lb Cs – item #70015
  • Cream Cheese – Smithfield 10X3 Lb Cs – item #91160

Spring Pea Soup

Spring is in the air and in Spring Pea Soup! Made with the freshest of peas, be they fresh or frozen, this soup is a vibrant green ode to the season. Infused with the delicate flavors of mint, onion, and garlic, and simmered in a rich vegetable broth, it’s a light yet flavorful start to your Easter feast. For a gourmet twist, add a dollop of crème fraîche and a sprinkle of lemon zest.

  • Peas – Frozen 12/2.5 Lb – item #07773
  • Vegetable Base – Sauteed – 16oz Tub – item #21754
  • Fresh Mint – 1/4 Lb – item #40052
  • Onion – Diced Yellow – 2/5 Lb Cs – item #70032
  • Garlic – Peeled Domestic – 5 Lb Jar – item #70121

Spring Salad

A mix of greens, strawberries, goat cheese, candied pecans, and balsamic vinaigrette. The sweetness of the strawberries complements the tangy goat cheese, making it a refreshing choice for a spring day. Tip: Toss the greens with the vinaigrette right before serving to keep them crisp, and add the strawberries and pecans on top to maintain their texture. Toss in some edible flowers for a pop of color.

  • Spring Mix – Eden Valley – 2/1.5 Lb – item #19040
  • Strawberries – KY Greenhouse -10/12oz – item #34010
  • Goat Cheese – Crumbles 2/2Lb Cs – item #96537
  • Pecans – Raw Pieces – 2 Lb Bag – item #95322
  • Fig Balsamic – 8.45oz Bottle – item #29869

Main Course

Roast Lamb

Lamb is a traditional Easter dish, symbolizing spring and renewal and an Easter menu wouldn’t be complete without a show-stopping roast lamb. We recommend the succulent Freedom Run Farm leg of lamb, rubbed with a medley of garlic, rosemary, and thyme, then roasted to perfection. Let the lamb rest before carving to ensure each slice is juicy and full of flavor. Serve with a side of mint sauce or red wine reduction.

  • Freedom Run Farm Leg of Lamb – 2 Ct Cs – item #62505
  • Rosemary – Hydro-grown in OH – 1oz – item #19141
  • Thyme – Fresh 1/4 Lb – item #40043
  • Salt – Bourbon Smoked KY 18oz – item #96002
  • Pepper – Bourbon Smoked KY 7.5oz – item #97093

Honey Glazed Ham

Sweet, savory, and irresistibly delicious, Honey Glazed Ham is a crowd-pleaser. The glaze, a blend of honey, brown sugar, Dijon mustard, and cloves, caramelizes beautifully, giving the ham a glossy finish and a depth of flavor that’s hard to resist. Serve it with some spring greens or a side of scalloped potatoes, and watch it disappear faster than an Easter egg on a hunt! For a unique twist, try adding a splash of bourbon to the glaze.

  • Ham – Spiral Sliced Halves 4CT-9Lb Avg – item #00447
  • Honey – Wildflower Local 16oz Jar – item #19304
  • Sugar – Bourbon Smoked 13oz Jar – item #97222
  • Cloves – Hand-picked, Whole 14oz – item #97028

Herb Roasted Chicken

For a lighter yet equally festive option, Herb Roasted Chicken is a menu must. Seasoned with a mix of fresh herbs, garlic, and lemon, roasted to golden perfection with a crispy skin and moist, flavorful meat. It’s a dish that’s both simple and elegant. A pro tip: roast the chicken on a bed of vegetables for an all-in-one dish that’s bursting with flavors and colors.

  • Whole Chicken – Joyce Farms 3Lb/12 Ct – item #97671
  • Rosemary – Hydro-grown in OH – 1oz – item #19141
  • Thyme – Fresh – 1/4 Lb – item #40043
  • Garlic – Peeled Domestic – 5 Lb Jar – item #70121

Vegetarian Lasagna

Layered with seasonal vegetables, ricotta, and a rich tomato sauce. A great meat-free option that’s hearty and satisfying. Consider using grilled vegetables like zucchini and bell peppers for added depth of flavor. It’s a hearty, comforting dish that’s sure to satisfy vegetarians and meat-lovers alike.

  • Spinach – Baby Cleaned – 4 Lc Cs – item #20280
  • Zucchini – 1/2 Bushel – item #20604
  • Mushrooms – Exotic Sliced – 5 Lb Cs – item #30906
  • Basil – Fresh – 1/4 Lb – item #40037
  • Ricotta – Polly-O – 5 Lb Tub – item #91094
  • Mozzarella – Shredded – 5 Lb Bag – item #91151
  • Marinara Sauce – Brownwood Farms in Athens, OH 6/16oz – item #22588
  • Lasagna Noodles – Lotsa Pasta Frozen – 5 Lb Slab – item #95621

Salmon with Lemon-Dill Sauce

Brighten up your Easter table with Salmon with Lemon-Dill Sauce. The salmon, cooked to flaky perfection, is complemented by a zesty lemon-dill sauce that adds a refreshing hit of flavor. It’s a dish that’s light yet satisfying, and the sauce is a game changer – creamy, tangy, and herby.

  • Salmon Fillets – Center-cut, skin-off 6oz – item #49106
  • Fresh Dill – 1/4 Lb – item #40038
  • Lemon – 12 Each – item #04019
  • Butter – Beurremont 83% – 1 Lb Log – item #93069
  • Cream – Snowville (OH) 9/16oz – item #18643

Sides

Scalloped Potatoes

A classic side that never goes out of style. Thinly sliced potatoes layered with a rich, garlicky cream sauce and baked until golden and bubbly – it’s comfort food that’s perfect for an Easter feast. For best results, slice the potatoes evenly to ensure they cook uniformly.

  • Thinly Sliced Potatoes – Peeled & Sliced 1/4″ – 20 LB Cs – item #17208
  • Heavy Cream – 36% – Quart – item #16407
  • Garlic – Chopped, In Water – 32oz – item #70111
  • Cheddar Cheese – Feather Shred – 5 Lb – item #15418
  • Thyme – Dried – 6oz Jar – item #97124

Roasted Asparagus

As spring’s favorite vegetable, our Roasted Asparagus is a simple yet elegant side dish that’s perfect for Easter. Drizzled with olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper, and roasted until tender-crisp, these green spears are a healthy addition to your feast. The key to perfection is not to overcook them – they should retain a bit of crunch. A sprinkle of lemon zest or Parmesan cheese just before serving can add a bright or savory note to this delightful side.

  • Fresh Asparagus – Large – 11Lb Cs – item #20080
  • Olive Oil – EVOO w/ Lemon – 6/250ml – item #95434
  • Lemon Zest – Ravifruit – 1.12Lb Tub – item #95877
  • Parmesan Cheese – Middlefield – 12/8oz – item #25844

Honey-Glazed Carrots

Add a touch of sweetness to your table with our Honey-glazed Carrots. This dish transforms the humble carrot into a caramelized, tender, and sweet side that pairs wonderfully with any Easter main. The secret lies in the slow roasting, which allows the natural sugars to emerge, complemented by a touch of honey. For an extra flair, a pinch of cinnamon or thyme can elevate this dish to new heights.

  • Carrots – Tri-colored Hand Carved – 5 Lb – item #20462
  • Honey – Mitica Orange Blossom – 7oz Jar – item #93506
  • Butter – Plugra Unsalted – 1 Lb – item #93005
  • Parsley- Micro – 6zo Pack – item #02937

Desserts

Carrot Cake

Carrot Cake, a timeless Easter classic, is a moist and flavorful dessert that’s hard to resist. Loaded with grated carrots, spices, and nuts, and topped with a creamy cheese frosting, it’s the perfect end to your Easter meal. For an added touch, decorate with edible flowers or Easter-themed cake toppers for a festive look.

  • Carrots – Shredded – 5 Lb Bag – item #20469
  • Cinnamon – Ground -1 Lb Tub – item #97025
  • Nutmeg – Ground 1 Lb Tub – item #97068
  • Ginger – Ground 12oz Jar – item #97053
  • All Spice – Ground 16oz Jar – item #97002
  • Cloves – Ground 16oz Jar – item #97027

Lemon Tart

The Lemon Tart is a celebration of spring’s citrusy delights. With a buttery, crisp tart shell filled with a tangy lemon custard, it’s a refreshing and elegant dessert. The key to a great lemon tart is the balance between sweet and tart, and a perfectly baked crust (or a delicious, ready-made option). Garnish with a sprinkle of powdered sugar and some fresh berries or edible flowers for an extra pop of color.

  • Lemon Zest – Ravifruit – 1.12Lb Tub – item #95877
  • Lemon Juice – Natalie’s – 6/32oz Cs – item #99201
  • Tart Shell – 3.25″ Sweet, Straight – 72 Ct – item #90292
  • Edible Flower – Pansies Mix 50 Ct Pack – item #40032

Drinks

Spring Punch

A fruity and refreshing blend of juices, soda, and a splash of something sparkling. Garnish with fresh berries and mint for a festive touch. For an adult version, a splash of your favorite spirit can add an extra kick.

  • Pineapple Orange Juice – 6/16oz Case – item #02718
  • Ginger Beer – Fever Tree – 6/4/6.8 Case – item #99772
  • Fruit Puree – Pomegranate – 30oz Jar – item #95842
  • Strawberries – Topped & Halved – 4 Lb Cs – item #17103
  • Flowers – *Basil Blossoms – 50 Ct Pack – item #02736

Mint Lemonade

Freshly squeezed lemonade infused with mint. It’s cool, refreshing, and the mint adds a fresh spring twist. Serve it over ice and garnish with mint leaves and lemon slices for a drink that’s as beautiful as it is tasty. Here is another opportunity to add a little something extra to make this an adult beverage.

  • Puree – Meyer Lemon – 30oz – 95831
  • Mint Leaves – Hydro-grown (OH) – 1oz – 19137
  • Sugar – Monin Pure Cane Syrup – 750ml – 99439
  • Sparkling Water – Mountain Valley – 12/1 LTR – 18095

Each dish on this menu is thoughtfully chosen to celebrate the flavors of spring and the joyous spirit of Easter. Whether it’s the classic comfort of scalloped potatoes or the refreshing zing of mint lemonade, these dishes are sure to delight and impress at any Easter gathering!

Some featured items may not be available in all regions. Please contact your customer advocate for substitutions or new menu ideas.

Bridging the Gap Between Local Farmers, Producers and Chefs with Local Food Connection

By | Local, Local and Specialty, Meats, Organic, Produce, Vegetables, What Chefs Want

Meet Anna Haas, a driving force behind What Chefs Want’s Local Food Connection program. With a knack for forging bonds between farmers and chefs and a bold vision for revolutionizing local food systems, Anna has played a pivotal role in shaping the direction of Local Food Connection these last few years. As the program director for local foods, Anna is dedicated to empowering farmers and cultivating strong community ties. Keep an eye on the Local Food Connection Program as it grows in each of the regions that What Chefs Wants serves!

Join us as we ask about the beginnings of Local Food Connection, Anna’s insights, and the transformative impact of the What Chefs Want program on the local food landscape, starting in the Midwest and building beyond.


By the way … Great local food depends on continuing to build our partnerships with other local food advocates. If reading this reminds you of a program or a producer you know, contact our WOW Center and let them know to pass it on to Local Food Connection!


Q: Can you share how Local Food Connection got started?

Anna: Absolutely. It all began around 2014 when Alice Chalmers moved from the DC area to Cincinnati, Ohio. She was passionate about sustainable agriculture, preserving green spaces and building local. She and her friends and colleagues were intrigued by the concept of food hubs, which led to discussions about building one, which Alice decided to do in her new area.. She was also intrigued by the relationship between health and food, viewing food as medicine and recognizing the superior nutritional value of freshly harvested produce.

Alice launched Local Food Connection (originally known as Ohio Valley Food Connection) in 2015. This was the culmination of so many months reaching out extensively to farms and food businesses across the local foodshed, developing her business plan based on community needs, and eventually bringing in a refrigerated Sprinter van to kickstart her venture.

Q: What did this food hub do?

Anna: So essentially, the focus at that time revolved around establishing a distribution system that could connect local farms capable of supplying fresh produce with buyers through existing food hub software platforms. This system operates by allowing farms to list their available produce still in the ground, which buyers can purchase directly through the software. Once an order is received, typically on Wednesday night, the farmer promptly harvests the requested items within 12 hours, ensuring they are fresh and packed specifically for the client, complete with personalized labels detailing the contents.

Q: What were the early challenges faced by Local Food Connection?

Anna: Distribution for small food producers was a major hurdle in the Ohio Valley area of southwestern Ohio, Northern Kentucky, and southeastern Indiana—like it still is in many places. While there was interest from both farmers and buyers, bridging the gap between them was tough without a reliable distribution system. Additionally, building relationships with restaurants and educating them about the benefits of local, just-harvested produce was crucial. Like most business owners launching a new venture, Alice faced setbacks, like the refrigerated van breaking down on our first day of operation, highlighting the complexities of distribution from the get-go.

Q: How did you evolve over time?

Anna: Despite the initial challenges, we saw rapid growth that enabled me to join the team, then others. By 2016, the hub’s second summer, we were already expanding our operations. We rented cooler storage spaces, collaborated with an incubator kitchen, and formed partnerships with other food hubs. Our focus remained on connecting local farms with buyers while ensuring the freshest produce reached consumers’ plates.

Q: What role did partnerships play in the growth of Local Food Connection?

Anna: Partnerships were instrumental in scaling our operations. In 2017, we collaborated with the sustainability non-profit Green Umbrella, and another food hub, securing USDA support via a local food promotion grant. This partnership aimed to utilize the infrastructure of both organizations to facilitate sales to institutions and was especially crucial in launching our farm-to-school program.

For instance, we were able to partner with the University of Kentucky at a strategic moment, amidst community demand for more Kentucky produce to help fulfill agreements in their dining contract. We successfully collaborated with them to introduce a new local program featuring salad bars with Kentucky-grown produce from six small farms. UK committed to a year of twice-weekly seasonal purchases, and we worked with participating farms to tailor their production accordingly. This partnership marked a significant milestone as one of our key clients, propelling our efforts to new heights.

To read more about the UK local program check out this link.

The other major partnership that took Local Food Connection to the next level was Cincinnati Public Schools. CPS signed on to the Good Food Purchasing Program and this is where we first partnered with What Chefs Want to provide the CPS system with something different from what other distributers were offering. Other distributors could say, “We buy local (generally) and will get it to you,” with programs that I like to call “lip-service local.” But we could say, “Hey, we’re able to tell you which farm this produce came from. This one’s organic, that one’s a small business, and this one’s just 34 miles away.” We could trace every veggie right back to its roots. And by our food hub partnering with What Chefs Want, a customer wouldn’t have to just stick to local in their order. They could still get bananas and oranges through What Chefs Want in the same delivery. Suddenly every farm’s possible footprint vastly multiplied and so much more became possible. I have to say – I’m especially excited about the potential here for farm-to-school and farm-to-institution in other states where I’m just now starting to learn more.

What role does education play in Local Food Connection?

Anna: We are listeners first – listeners to our producers and our customers. We have really tried to create a system that works for those at both ends–local food production and buying–and in doing so, we educate along the way.

We educate buyers on what they can buy that is a best fit for their type of enterprise, how to menu plan for seasonal local produce, and the stories behind their local food purchases. We educate producers on food safety certifications that they need and how to know what to grow.  We take a lot of the work off their plates when it comes to figuring out what a retailer wants versus a restaurant versus a school and how to get it to everyone. We can start small and scale when they are ready. This allows us to work with small producers and help them build and grow with us.

Q: How did Local Food Connection maintain its values amidst growth and expansion?

Anna: In 2019, Local Food Connection became a part of What Chefs Want. After four years, the increasing demand for our local food initiatives made it evident that independently developing and managing a fleet of trucks, securing and setting up a new warehouse, among other tasks, was impractical. Especially considering that What Chefs Want already had these resources available just a short distance away.

Our commitment to supporting local farmers and providing fresh, nutritious produce never wavered. As we grew, we ensured that our systems prioritized transparency and sustainability. Educating buyers about seasonality, sourcing locally whenever possible, and advocating for fair prices for farmers remained at the core of our mission.

Because WCW already had a strong local program around its headquarters in Kentucky, we felt like our work became turbo-charged as we joined forces.  LFC plus WCW instantly expanded our team to include individuals with diverse backgrounds in food systems, distribution, and sales. This allowed us to better manage logistics, coordinate with farmers and buyers, and ensure the quality and safety of our products. We also invested in technology to streamline operations and improve efficiency, though that journey just continues as we grow into new markets and the food system changes, too.

Q: What sets Local Food Connection apart from other food hub programs?

Anna: I want to give a shout-out first to all the food hubs out there. What food hubs across the country have in common is a deep understanding of the local food landscape and a hands-on approach to bridging the gap between farmers and buyers. Food hubs are facilitators of a thriving local food ecosystem. By focusing on relationships, education, and sustainability, food hubs across the country follow a model that not only supports farmers and buyers but also fosters their own communities dedicated to the principles of local food.

What makes US different now is that we have made the choice to embed our food hub program in a larger business but still maintain the same values.  WCW, enhanced by LFC, is more than just a distributor; we’re changemakers in a way that sets us apart from other foodservice businesses of our class.

Q: What else do Chefs need to know about Local Food Connection and sourcing local foods?

Anna: It’s not an all or nothing thing. You can mix in some local selections, supporting a small or organic farm. They can think of supporting a farm as simple as adding a couple of $15 local items, or $25 local items. Or of course chefs can go all in with local and, with our help, plan in advance to bring in specific local goods for their menu. We can sit down with chefs and say, ok right now it’s February. This is what we’re going to have in July to September, so plan your menus now for July to September and when the time comes, these local items will be ready for you. One of the first steps you can take is reaching out to our WOW center and letting them know you’d like more resources on buying local and describe what you’re looking for. Mention LFC and that you read this blog!

Q: Can you share a success story of a local farmer or producer who has benefited from Local Food Connection’s support?

Anna: I would say one of the best examples is Lobenstein Farm, a small-to-mid-sized farm located just across the border in Indiana. They began with farmers markets but faced uncertainties in sales, as farmer’s markets really rely on traffic to the market, weather, etc. With our support, they added on to their six markets a week a more stable wholesale model. Initially, we purchased products on a just-in-time basis, but as they grew, we now buy from them by the case, integrating their products into our inventory system. This evolution has allowed them to scale up from being mainly a farmers market vendor; they are now a reliable supplier for countless restaurants, retailers, schools and universities, all done via us ordering from them and them dropping off two times a week.

Q: How has the expansion of Local Food Connection impacted the number of vendors you work with and sales?

Anna: WCW’s Midwest region now has 140 local vendors. They cover everything from meat and dairy to produce and local gourmet items and are all sizes.

It’s hard to even imagine this, but Local Food Connection grew from 100+ wholesale buyers in 2015 to over 4,900 distinct wholesale buyers in 2023!

Q: What does the future hold for Local Food Connection?

Anna: We’re committed to continuing our mission of connecting local farmers with buyers while promoting sustainability and transparency in the food system. As we expand into new markets and forge more partnerships, our goal remains the same: to support local agriculture, provide access to fresh, nutritious food, and strengthen communities. With each step forward, we’re guided by the values that have defined us from the beginning.

To learn more about Local Food Connection, visit our Local Food Connection page.

Festive Flavors: Mardi Gras Menu Inspirations and Fish Fry Fun

By | Gourmet, Ham, Meats, Mustards, Oysters, Pork, Poultry, Rice, Seafood, Southern Foods, What Chefs Want

As the vibrant Mardi Gras season approaches, bringing joy, music, and colorful parades, it also marks the beginning of the Lenten Fish Fry season. These two celebrations share a rich tapestry of traditions, and what better way to commemorate them than by exploring the delicious world of Cajun and Mardi Gras-inspired cuisine? In this blog post, we’ll share some valuable tips for hosting the perfect Fish Fry or cooking up authentic Mardi Gras dishes. Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler!

Fish Fry Season

Seafood Selection is Key

Opt for mild and flaky white fish varieties like cod, haddock, or swai. Their delicate texture allows them to absorb flavors and maintain moisture during frying. Choose fresh fish to ensure the best taste and texture. Look for clear eyes, vibrant skin, and a mild ocean smell. If using frozen fish, thaw it thoroughly before frying.

  • Wild Caught Cod Loin Skin Off – Frozen – 10 lb case (available in 5, 6, 7, and 8 oz portions) (Item #48329, 48330, 48331 & 48332)
  • Swai – Skin Off – Frozen – 15 lb case (available in 5,7, and 9 oz portions) (Item #48307, #48308 & #22950)

Want to get a little more out of the box? Include oyster or shrimp po boys for a fish fry twist that your patrons never knew they needed!

  • Mariblu Shrimp – Available in peeled, deveined, tail on and tail off, in a wide variety of sizes. Search Mariblu to see all our offerings.
  • Shucked Oysters – wild caught in Chesapeake Bay – Gallon (item #48218)

Perfectly Battered and Breaded Seafood

For a classic fish fry batter, combine flour, cornstarch, baking powder, salt, and spices. Experiment with adding herbs like parsley or dill for an extra flavor boost. For a light and crispy texture, consider using a beer batter. The carbonation in beer creates a bubbly, airy batter. Mix beer with flour, salt, and spices for a delicious coating. Or, try a tempura-style batter for an incredibly light and crispy result. Use a mixture of flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and ice-cold water. Dip the fish in the batter just before frying.

The key to the perfect fry is all in the temperature and the timing. Maintain the right oil temperature. The ideal range is around 350-375°F (175-190°C). Too hot, and the fish may burn; too cool, and it can absorb too much oil. Fry the fish in small batches to avoid overcrowding. The cooking time will depend on the thickness of the fillets. Typically, it takes 3-5 minutes per side for a golden-brown finish. And remember, serve the fried fish immediately for the best taste and texture!

Or, without the added step of creating your own batter, achieve the perfect crispy texture with our Cod Battered and Oyster Breaded Frozen options. These products make the frying process a breeze, allowing you to focus on creating a memorable dining experience.

  • Battered Cod – Dipped in a tasty beer batter coating made with real Corona beer – 2-3 oz portions – 10 lb case – (Item #22033)
  • Breaded Oysters – 5/2 lb cases (Item #48441)

Let’s Take it Beyond the Ordinary

Citrus Zest in the Batter: Add a burst of freshness to your batter by incorporating citrus zest, such as lemon or orange. The citrusy notes cut through the richness of the fried fish, providing a vibrant and unexpected flavor.

Dill Pickle Juice Marinade: Before coating the fish in batter, marinate it in dill pickle juice for an hour. The acidity and subtle dill flavor will enhance the taste of the fish and add a unique twist to the traditional fish fry.

Beer and Mustard Dip: Prepare a tangy dip by combining beer and Zatarain’s Creole Mustard. This unique dipping sauce complements the fried fish with a zesty and slightly spicy flavor.

  • Zatarain’s Creole Mustard – It is a coarse, stone ground mustard with a uniquely vibrant flavor (Item #95110)

Coconut and Curry Infusion: Incorporate tropical flavors by adding shredded coconut and curry powder to your batter. This unexpected combination transports your fish fry to a new level of exotic deliciousness.

Mardi Gras Menu Magic

Gumbo

Gumbo is a hearty and flavorful stew that originated in Louisiana, particularly among the Creole and Cajun communities. It is a staple of Southern cuisine, known for its rich, complex flavors and diverse mix of ingredients. Gumbo is often considered a symbol of Louisiana’s culinary heritage and cultural diversity.

Gumbo can include a variety of proteins, such as andouille sausage, crawfish, catfish, shrimp, oysters and/or chicken. The combination of meats and seafood contributes to the dish’s depth of flavor. Similar to the French mirepoix, the holy trinity is a key flavor base in gumbo, consisting of onions, bell peppers, and celery. This aromatic trio forms the foundation of many Cajun and Creole dishes.

Add a twist to your gumbo by incorporating smoked okra and fire-roasted tomatoes. The smokiness from the okra and the depth of flavor from the tomatoes elevate the dish, creating a unique and delicious variation.

  • Louisiana Crawfish Tail Meat – Frozen – (Item #48371)
  • Harvest Select Catfish – Premium farm-raised frozen catfish from North Carolina (Item #48317)
  • Andouille Sausage – 12 lb case – (Item #00470)
  • Fresh Okra – (Item #20919)

Jambalaya

This one-pot wonder is a celebration of diverse ingredients and bold spices, creating a hearty and satisfying meal. Jambalaya is known for its unique combination of meats, seafood, vegetables, and rice, resulting in a dish that captures the essence of Louisiana’s cultural melting pot.

Similar to gumbo, jambalaya features a mix of proteins, and the holy trinity. The rice used in Jambalaya is typically 100% Louisiana Popcorn Long Grain Rice. The long-grain rice absorbs the flavorful broth and complements the variety of ingredients. Serve it hot, straight from the pot, for a true taste of Louisiana’s culinary heritage.

As you embark on a culinary journey inspired by the festive spirit of Mardi Gras and the Lenten Fish Fry season, let the traditions and flavors guide your menu. What Chefs Want offers a range of premium products to elevate your dishes and create an unforgettable experience for your guests. Celebrate with authenticity, savor every bite, and make this season a true feast for the senses!

  • 100% Louisiana Popcorn Long Grain Rice – 20 lb bag – 98338

Cajun Grits with Tasso

Cajun Grits with Tasso is a Southern classic that combines the creamy goodness of grits with the smoky, flavorful kick of Tasso ham. Tasso, a highly seasoned and smoked pork, enhances the traditional grits, a staple in Southern cooking.

Enjoy Cajun Grits with Tasso as a standalone dish for a comforting and filling meal or as a flavorful side alongside blackened seafood, chicken or other cajun-inspired dish.

Add a kick to this dish by incorporating diced jalapeños or a dash of hot sauce. The spiciness complements the smokiness of the Tasso, creating a dynamic and flavorful bowl.

  • Comeaux’s Cajun Hickory Smoked Tasso – (Item #96572)
  • Weisenberger Yellow Grits – Stone ground old fashioned grits (Item #92217)

* Some featured items may not be available in all regions. Please contact your customer advocate for substitutions or new menu ideas.

Udderly AMOOsing and EGGstraordinary Dairy Facts & Tips with Dairy Direct

By | Cheese, Dairy, What Chefs Want

Dairy, the unsung hero of every kitchen, takes the spotlight, and we’re dishing out some cool tidbits, tips, and tricks, courtesy of our friends at Dairy Direct! Fresh off a chat with the Dairy Direct squad, it’s clear they’re on a mission to deliver dairy beyond the ordinary. Their emphasis on freshness, efficiency, and high standards ensures that our chefs receive top-tier products.

So, grab your apron and let’s whisk our way through some fun facts and eggstraordinary uses that’ll make you say, “Holy cow, who knew dairy could be this udderly fantastic?”

Cottage Cheese is a powerful secret ingredient

Cottage cheese has been having kind of a moment the past couple of years, with TikTok trends showing cottage cheese added to EVERYTHING. While TikTok trends aren’t always great, they’re not wrong here. You can enhance the creaminess and richness of any dish without the need for excessive calories and fat. As a bonus, incorporate cottage cheese as an excellent protein source to sustain energy levels over extended periods. Your health-conscious patrons will thank you and your regular patrons will just appreciate the upgraded taste! Add it to scrambled eggs for lighter, fluffier eggs. Add it to meatballs to keep them moist when working with leaner meats. Add it to mashed potatoes for an undeniably smooth and velvety texture.

  • Cottage Cheese – 5 pound tub (item #93009)
  • Cottage Cheese – 4/ 5 pound tubs (item #93008)

Buttermilk used beyond breakfast

Move over buttermilk pancakes. In search of a simple method to tenderize your chicken or pork before cooking? Harness the acidic power of buttermilk as an excellent choice for a marinade ingredient. Enhance the flavor with ground spices such as paprika, garlic powder, and cayenne. Allow your protein to rest in this buttermilk-based marinade for a minimum of one hour, or for up to 24 hours.

  • Buttermilk – half gallon (item #02550)
  • Buttermilk – 9 / half gallon (item #93037)

Leverage Liquid Eggs to Make it Easy

No need to walk on eggshells, liquid eggs are a lifesaver in the kitchen. They have a longer shelf life, lasting up to three weeks. They are pasteurized to destroy Salmonella and other bacteria. Liquid whole eggs are simple to use, consistent in measurement, safe, and are high-quality. Regular eggs differ in sizes, so measurements aren’t always consistent. Perfect for batch cooking, custards, or as a base for delicate quiches, liquid eggs provide a streamlined approach to egg-based dishes. They are a perfect solution for high-volume kitchens.

  • Eggs – Liquid Whole – 2 pound (item #80007)
  • Eggs – Liquid Whole – 15/2 pound (item #80006)

Dairy Direct serves as the direct link to top-tier dairy, connecting consumers with products from local dairy farms predominantly in Northern Ohio, Southern Michigan, and Western Pennsylvania. Since 2007, Dairy Direct has championed freshness and quality, specializing in a range of dairy products available through What Chefs Want including, buttermilk, half & half, chocolate milk, eggs, sour cream, heavy cream, varieties of milk, peeled hard-boiled eggs, liquid eggs, and cheese. Their commitment to excellence goes beyond products, aligning with farmers and producers who uphold the highest standards of quality. Dairy Direct delivers dairy beyond the ordinary.


What Was That Tagline? “Milk, Does a Body Good.”

Milk stands as a nutritional powerhouse, contributing approximately 73% of the calcium available in our food supply. Packed with essential nutrients like protein, calcium, and vitamin D, one 8-ounce glass of milk offers the calcium equivalent of 4.5 servings of broccoli, 16 servings of spinach, or 5.8 servings of whole wheat bread. Additionally, chocolate milk emerges as a post-workout hero, combining fluids, carbs, and protein to effectively rehydrate and refuel muscles.

Tailor your recipes with precision by selecting the right milk variety. Utilize whole milk for indulgent dishes like mashed potatoes, 2% for lighter soups, and skim milk for calorie-conscious additions to coffee-based sauces.

  • Chocolate Milk 1% – Half Pint (item #02587)
  • Chocolate Milk 1% – 12/16 oz (item #15907)
  • Milk Whole – 4 / 1 gallon (item #93024)
  • Milk Whole – 1 gallon (item #93025)
  • Milk Whole – 50 / half pint (item #93032)
  • Milk 2% – 12/ 1 pint (item #23306)
  • Milk 2% – 1 gallon (item #93014)
  • Milk 2% – 4 / 1 gallon (item #93013)
  • Milk 2% – 50 / half pints (item #93031)
  • Milk 1% – 50 / half pints (item #99754)
  • Milk Skim – 4 / 1 gallon (item #93022)
  • Milk Skim – 1 gallon (item #93023)
  • Milk Skim – 50 half pints (item #93030)

Not to Be Cheesy, But…

Did you know that the average American eats around 23 pounds of cheese every year? Now that’s what we call a grate love affair! Cheddar is the most popular natural cheese in the U.S.! Cheddar has even made it to the moon. In 1962, NASA sent a specially crafted cheddar wheel on the spacecraft Ranger 7 to study how vacuum conditions affect food.

Swiss cheese comes in at a strong fourth place in popularity, in the US, but its number one in our hearts. Did you know that the holes in Swiss cheese are called “eyes,” and larger eyes are associated with a more robust and nutty flavor. So if the holes in swiss are called eyes, what do you call swiss cheese varieties without eyes? Blind. (No really, that’s a real thing! Look it up!)

  • Cheddar Cheese – Tillamook – 2 / 5pounds (item #02338)
  • Cheddar Cheese – Extra Sharp – Tillamook – 10 pounds (item #33573)
  • Swiss Cheese – Cut – 8 pound – (item #91453)

Sour Cream – Beyond the Baked Potato

Sour cream is a versatile kitchen ally, finding its way into baking, cooking, and condiments. With its rich and acidic profile, sour cream imparts a moist and tender texture to baked goods. It serves as the foundation for numerous dips and dressings, graces baked potatoes as a popular topping, and brings its tangy, smooth charm to soups and sauces. Some of our favorite sour cream swaps? Make a quick and tangy frozen yogurt by mixing sour cream with honey and your favorite fruit puree. Or give your potato salad a creamy kick by swapping some of the mayo with sour cream. It adds a delightful tanginess to this classic dish.

Sour Cream Tub – 32 pound case (item #16406)

Dairy, the unsung hero of every kitchen! Now, with What Chefs Want and our partners at Dairy Direct, we’re handing you the golden ticket to the dairy wonderland—think the highest quality and freshest dairy imaginable. Whether you’re spicing up your menu with cottage cheese creations or pondering the cosmic freshness of cheddar on the moon, we’re here, excited and ready to be your dairy dream team.

You can find these products from Dairy Direct at What Chefs Want:

  • Buttermilk – half gallon (item #02550)
  • Buttermilk – 9 / half gallon (item #93037)
  • Cheddar Cheese – Tillamook – 2 / 5pounds (item #02338)
  • Cheddar Cheese – Extra Sharp – Tillamook – 10 pounds (item #33573)
  • Chocolate Milk 1% – half pint (item #02587)
  • Chocolate Milk 1% – 12/16 oz (item #15907)
  • Chocolate Milk – 50 / half pint (item #93033)
  • Cottage Cheese – 5 pound tub (item #93009)
  • Cottage Cheese – 4/ 5 pound tubs (item #93008)
  • Eggs – Brown – Cage Free – 15 dozen (item #03979)
  • Eggs – Large – 1 dozen (item #04730)
  • Eggs – Large – 30 dozen (item #56800)
  • Eggs – XL – 30 dozen (item #04910)
  • Eggs – Liquid Whole – 2 pound (item #80007)
  • Eggs – Liquid Whole – 15/2 pound (item #80006)
  • Eggs – Hard Boiled – Peeled – 20 pound (item #80003)
  • Half & Half – 1 quart (item #02606)
  • Half & Half – 12/1 quart (item #02757)
  • Half & Half – 12/1 quart (item #29039)
  • Half & Half – 402 count portions (item #93021)
  • Heavy Cream 36% – quart (item #16407)
  • Heavy Cream 36% – 12/ 1 quart (item #26967)
  • Heavy Cream 40% – 12/ 1 quart (item #93017)
  • Heavy Cream 40% – 1 quart (item #93018)
  • Milk Whole – 4 / 1 gallon (item #93024)
  • Milk Whole – 1 gallon (item #93025)
  • Milk Whole – 50 / half pint (item #93032)
  • Milk 2% – 12/ 1 pint (item #23306)
  • Milk 2% – 1 gallon (item #93014)
  • Milk 2% – 4 / 1 gallon (item #93013)
  • Milk 2% – 50 / half pints (item #93031)
  • Milk 1% – 50 / half pints (item #99754)
  • Milk Skim – 4 / 1 gallon (item #93022)
  • Milk Skim – 1 gallon (item #93023)
  • Milk Skim – 50 half pints (item #93030)
  • Orange Juice –1 gallon (item #14462)
  • Orange Juice – 4/1 gallon (item #14461)
  • Sour Cream Tub – 32 pound case (item #16406)
  • Swiss Cheese – Cut – 8 pound – (item #91453)


* Some featured items may not be available in all regions. Please contact your customer advocate for substitutions or new fresh, healthy menu ideas.

Valentine’s Day Menu: A Culinary Love Affair for Your Restaurant

By | Beef, Chef's Feed, Chocolate, Desserts, Fruit, Gourmet, Hors d'oeuvre, Meats, Oysters, Produce, Seafood, What Chefs Want

This Valentine’s Day, let your restaurant become the stage for a culinary love affair. As the festive season ends, it’s time to shift our focus to the upcoming celebration of love. We recognize the importance of crafting an exceptional dining experience for patrons seeking to impress that special someone with an amazing dining experience or patrons who want to treat themselves! What Chefs Want has curated a selection of premium ingredients to help chefs craft menus that enchant patrons celebrating their love. Let’s explore the possibilities:

Amorous Appetizers

Oysters on the Half Shell

Begin your romantic evening with the briny essence of fresh oysters, known for their aphrodisiac qualities. Shuck and serve these delicacies chilled, enhancing the experience with a squeeze of lemon. We have a large variety of fresh oysters on hand week to week in each region, so make sure to check our app for options and availability. A couple of our recent favorites include:

  • Connecticut Blue Point – from Norwalk Island, CT – these oysters are 3.5 inches in size with a medium salinity, springy meats and light mineral finish
  • Miyagi – from Hood Canal, WA – these oysters are 3 inches in size with substantial meats, a savory brine and a tangly cucumber finish.

Artichoke Heart Bruschetta

Artichoke Heart Bruschetta is a luscious appetizer featuring a blend of chopped artichoke hearts (item #90600), diced cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, and minced garlic atop golden toasted baguette slices, all drizzled with olive oil and truffle balsamic glaze (item #29853) for a flavorful and aphrodisiac-rich culinary delight.

Truffle-Infused Deviled Eggs

Level up the classic deviled eggs with a touch of luxury. Drizzle them with Regalis Black Truffle Oil (item #95402) and top with canned Truffle Peelings (item #90536) for an irresistibly earthy flavor.

While both oysters and artichokes are commonly touted to have aphrodisiac properties, there isn’t much evidence backing either. Other popular (but not scientifically proven) aphrodisiacs include chocolate, honey, hot chilies, figs and strawberries.

Seafood Sensations

Lobster Tails

Need we say more? Help your guests impress their special someone with succulent Canadian Lobster Tails (item #48421). Grill or steam these 5-6 oz treasures to perfection, creating a dish that captures the sweet and distinctive flavors of the cold waters of eastern Canada.

Pan-Seared Halibut Fillet

Show off the deep, rich flavors of wild Halibut (item #48052). These skin-on fillets promise a delicate sweetness and firm, flaky texture. Pan-sear and serve with a light citrus drizzle for an exquisite main course.

Scallops

Consider featuring U-10 Dry Domestic Scallops (item #32502), a delicacy renowned for their large, succulent profile. Perfect for a romantic menu, these scallops can be expertly seared and served with a velvety truffle risotto or nestled atop a bed of creamy cauliflower puree, adding an elegant touch to your menu.

Protein Packed Passion

Porterhouse for Two

Share the love with a perfectly cooked Porterhouse Beef (item #1089) for two. This cut combines the tenderness of the filet mignon with the rich, flavorful strip steak. Fire up the grill and savor the best of both worlds. For a decadent touch consider adding a Red Wine Reduction Sauce. This rich and velvety sauce not only adds depth of flavor but also brings a luxurious and romantic element to the dish.

Lamb Lollipops Duo

Embrace the “two of ewe” with individual lamb rib chops (item #98661) from New Zealand. These 2 oz lollipops are a delightful balance of tenderness and robust flavor. Season with herbs and pan-sear for an elegant touch. Or drizzle them with a balsamic rosemary reduction. The sweet and tangy notes of balsamic, combined with the earthy aroma of rosemary, will complement the succulence of the lamb

Poulet Rouge Fermier

Consider featuring Poulet Rouge Fermier (item #847) as the star of a shared platter for two. Roast it with aromatic herbs and serve alongside decadent sides like truffle-infused mashed potatoes or roasted vegetables. The act of sharing a beautifully prepared bird adds an intimate touch to the dining experience. The exquisite Poulet Rouge Fermier from Joyce Farms is not just a chicken; it’s a symbol of culinary excellence, renowned for its exceptional flavor, succulence, and heritage breeding.

Decadent Desserts

Chocolate-Dipped Stem Strawberries

A Valentines Day classic! Create a sensual experience with stem strawberries (item #10404) perfect for chocolate-dipping. Melt the finest dark chocolate and dip each berry, adding a touch of sweetness to your romantic evening. Consider using the gorgeous and tasty pink ruby chocolate to up the Valentines aesthetic.

Raspberry Rose Petal Sorbet

Refresh the palate with a homemade sorbet featuring juicy raspberries (item #10412) and edible flowers. The floral notes will add a romantic touch to your dessert and your plating. For our large selection of edible flowers search flowers on our ordering site or app.

Filled Chocolate Tulip Cups

End your evening on a sweet note with chocolate tulip cups (item #92114). Fill these delicate cups with a rich chocolate mousse or berries for a visually stunning and delicious finale. We love these because you can use them as a beautiful canvas to fill with whatever creative ideas you have to wow your diners!


* Some featured items may not be available in all regions. Please contact your customer advocate for substitutions or new fresh, healthy menu ideas.

Creating Restaurant Wins for Health-Conscious Consumers

By | Beef, Chef's Feed, Gluten Free, Grab & Go, Grilling Essentials, Juice, Meats, Non-GMO, Produce, Retail Ready, Seafood, Sparkling Water, Vegan, Vegetables, What Chefs Want

Top tips for bringing together a healthy menu to appeal to your more health-conscious patrons

In a world where health-conscious dining is on the rise, restaurants are faced with the challenge of catering to a more discerning audience. The demand for nutritious, sustainable, and plant-based options is growing rapidly. To stay ahead of the curve and satisfy health-conscious patrons, chefs can implement strategic changes to their menus. In this blog post, we’ll explore five top tips to help you create restaurant wins for health-conscious consumers.

Lean into Functional Foods

Functional foods add health benefits beyond basic nutritional benefits like protein and fiber.

As the spotlight on mental health intensifies, adaptogens are a sought-after class of ingredients that are believed to help the body resist and adapt to stressors. One such adaptogen that is trending is saffron (item #97219). Saffron, known for its mood-boosting properties, lends a touch of luxury and emotional well-being to dishes. Saffron is believed to alter the concentrations of neurotransmitters like dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin in the brain.

Prebiotics like buckwheat are non-digestible fibers or compounds found in certain foods that promote the activity and growth of beneficial bacteria (probiotics) in the gastrointestinal tract. Buckwheat (item #21111) is a gluten-free, nutrient-rich prebiotic food that is a good source of nutrients such as fiber, protein, magnesium, manganese, and antioxidants.

Probiotics like sauerkraut (like the Pickled Pig dill kraut – item #266752) and kimchi (like Napa kimchee item #26574) have beneficial bacteria that promote a healthy balance of microorganisms in the digestive system.

Offer more plant-based entrees

As the demand for plant-based options continues to rise, consider expanding your menu to include more plant-based entrees, and we aren’t just talking salad here. Highlighting produce items as main attractions can be a game-changer. Create vegetable-based dishes and a variety of plant-powered choices will not only attract health-conscious customers but also contribute to the overall sustainability of your menu. For a hearty and satisfying option, consider the robust and savory Portabella mushrooms (item #30025, #30008 or #30030), perfect for grilling or roasting as a centerpiece in a plant-based dish. Jackfruit (item #90141) is also incredibly popular as a meat substitute in savory dishes like curries, stews, tacos, and sandwiches. Its ability to absorb flavors makes it a versatile ingredient in plant-based cooking.

Consider incorporating trendy and nutrient-dense ingredients like quinoa (item #19976), lentils (item #93806), and plant-based proteins to add depth and satisfaction to your plant-based offerings. Emphasizing the health benefits of these ingredients in your menu descriptions can resonate with health-conscious consumers, encouraging them to make nutritious choices when dining out.

Plant-based proteins with options like tofu (item #80024) and tempeh (item #99682) are also great additions. These protein-packed alternatives not only provide a substantial base for various dishes but also absorb the flavors of accompanying ingredients, making them ideal for creating diverse and delicious plant-based entrees.

To cater to those looking for a meaty experience without the animal products, consider incorporating Impossible Meats. This innovative plant-based meat substitute mirrors the taste and texture of traditional meat, providing a familiar yet entirely plant-based option for your health-conscious patrons. You can find Impossible Ground Pork (item #26939) or Impossible Ground Beef (item #03198).

Offer healthy drinks & mocktails

Extend your commitment to health-conscious dining beyond the food menu by introducing healthy drinks and mocktails. Incorporate trendy options like kombucha, known for its probiotic benefits. Craft refreshing mocktails using fresh ingredients, herbs, and spices to provide a non-alcoholic alternative that complements your menu.

If you are looking for a great Kombucha to add to your lineup you can try Elixir (search Elixir in the app), with flavors like Blueberry Pomegranate, Harvest Cider, Lavender Lemonade, Pineapple Ginger and Raspberry Limeade if you are in the Midwest/central region. Or try Rowdy Mermaid (search Rowdy Mermaid in the app) if you are in our Colorado region, in flavors like Strawberry Tonic, Watermelon Bloom, Hello Ginger or Savory Peach.

Collagen is still having its moment right now as well. Collagen is often associated with its potential to promote skin health, joint health, and overall well-being. Circle is a sparkling collagen water focused on making healthier options accessible, enjoyable and affordable. Circle comes in flavors like Raspberry Hibiscus (item #22710), Lemon Mint (item #22711), Vanilla Pear (item #22712) and Watermelon Thyme (item #22713).

Use our Natalies juices or our variety of purees to craft creative and healthy alternatives to alcoholic cocktails and garnish them with something from our huge variety of edible micro flowers.

Showcase sustainable & healthy seafood

Highlighting sustainable seafood serves as an opportunity to educate consumers about making ethical choices in seafood consumption. Collaborate with trusted suppliers adhering to sustainable practices to build transparency and trust with your health-conscious clientele. Sustainable seafood not only offers ecological benefits but is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, providing a nutrient-dense and heart-healthy dining option. Consider featuring seasonal and local seafood options to emphasize freshness and reduce the carbon footprint. By showcasing sustainable seafood, you contribute to your customers’ well-being and play a role in preserving the delicate balance of our oceans for future generations.

Mariblu shrimp holds a prestigious 4-star BAP (Best Aquaculture Practices) certification, which is a testament to our unwavering commitment to responsible and sustainable aquaculture practices. This 100% phosphate-free shrimp comes in a large variety of sizes to fit your menu needs. You can find our Mariblu shrimp options by searching Mariblu on our ordering app or site.

Laguna Blanca Salmon is another wonderful healthy option. This antibiotic-free salmon stands out for its eco-friendliness, produced with notably less impact on the wild fish population, and is BAP and ASC certified. The Laguna Blanca salmon is raised on an algae diet which ensures it is a rich source of omega-3s, making it not only delicious but also healthy. You can find these options on our site by searching Laguna Blanca.

Educate consumers about your menu items

Share the story behind your menu items to educate consumers about the health benefits of your dishes and their origins. For instance, highlight unconventional healthy protein options or promote antibiotic-free meat. Mention reputable producers and what makes them so special to build trust and transparency with your customers. Incorporate this information into your menu descriptions or create a separate section dedicated to the health-conscious choices available.

For example: Make sure when talking about duck on the menu, that in the description you mention the  lower fat and calorie content compared to many other meats, making it a winning pick for those who crave incredible flavors while upholding a balanced diet. Take it a step further and share the details of the source. If you are using our Maple Leaf Farm duck you can share their particular dedication to sustainability and quality.

Or share the story of Joyce Farms chicken and their belief that small farmers, with their deep caring and passion for the animals, are the best at raising them, often using age-old artisan methods passed down through generations. They use no pesticides, animal by-products, hormones, growth stimulators or antibiotics EVER.

Creekstone Farms Angus Beef stands out for its commitment to quality and ethical practices in beef production. Embracing organic farming principles and ensuring humane animal handling, they prioritize a farming approach free of antibiotics and hormones. With a dedication to transparency, Creekstone Farms is not only passionate about delivering premium Angus beef but also strives to educate customers and consumers about the origins of their food, fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation for sustainable and responsible farming practices.

Highlighting producers like these add value to your menu items and make your patrons feel good about the choices they make at your restaurant.

Create easy healthy grab-and-go options

Recognizing the fast-paced lifestyles of many customers, offer easy and healthy grab-and-go options. To-go parfait cups filled with nutritious ingredients, such as Greek yogurt, fresh fruits, and granola, make for a convenient and satisfying choice. Consider other portable options like salads in a jar or protein-packed snack boxes to cater to health-conscious consumers on the move.

We have the perfect Parfait Combo Kit + Lid (item #34031) for your grab and go needs! This clear cup is a portable, fast, convenient, and easy-to-use package for yogurt parfaits and savory snack combinations.

Grandola Granola is a gourmet granola that’s made by hand, cured, nut free, gluten-free, and vegan with flavors like Autumn (item #18929 – Chai/Pumpkin spice with apricots and cranberries) and Ella’s Favorite (item #18932 – Madagascar vanilla, cherries and cranberries).

Pair granola with Greek or regular yogurt for easy options for your customers!


By incorporating these top tips, chefs can successfully cater to health-conscious consumers, fostering a dining environment that aligns with the growing demand for plant-based, sustainable, and transparent culinary choices. This strategic approach not only expands your customer base but also plays a vital role in enhancing the well-being of your patrons. Adapting to the evolving preferences of health-conscious consumers isn’t merely a passing trend; it’s a fundamental strategy for ensuring enduring success in the dynamic restaurant industry.

* Some featured items may not be available in all regions. Please contact your customer advocate for substitutions or new fresh, healthy menu ideas.

How to Craft a Standout Charcuterie Board

By | Appetizers, Catering, Charcuterie, Cheese, Chef's Feed, Fruit, Gourmet, Gourmet Cheese, Holiday, Hors d'oeuvre, Meats, Snack Foods, What Chefs Want

The art of creating a charcuterie board goes beyond assembling an assortment of cured meats and cheeses. It is a culinary symphony that combines flavors, textures, and aesthetics to delight the senses. In this guide, we will explore the key elements of crafting the ultimate charcuterie board, from balancing flavors to adding artistic touches that can set the experience at your restaurant apart from all the others.

Balancing Flavors: Key Components

Variety of Cured Meats:

Start with a selection of high-quality cured meats. Include a mix of textures and flavors, such as prosciutto for its delicate saltiness, spicy chorizo for a kick, and genoa salami for a robust taste.

Some of our favorite suggestions:

Smoking Goose Wagyu Beef Bologna (item #33841) – This domestically raised Wagyu beef, from the same breeds as prized Japanese Kobe beef, is expertly spiced with white and black peppercorns, mustard, coriander, and paprika. Pork-free and hot-smoked for a fully cooked and flavorful experience, it boasts a honeycomb casing that ensures beautifully petal-shaped slices, perfect for serving on charcuterie boards.

North Country #1 Salami (item #03921 / 95058 / 95059) – North Country’s richest and creamiest salami, featuring bold flavors infused with cheese from Blue Jacket Dairy in Bellefontaine, OH, Chardonnay from Debonnne Vineyards in Madison, OH, along with the zesty addition of chopped garlic and fresh sage.

Tempesta Brandy & Sage Paté (item #32191 / 32238) – This is Tempesta’s chicken liver paté, seasoned with a savory blend of sage and aged brandy.

Cheese Selection:

Choose a diverse array of cheeses, ranging from soft and creamy brie to sharp cheddar. Include different milk types like cow, goat, and sheep to offer a variety of textures and flavors.

One of our favorite rules of thumb, choose something hard, something soft and something blue.

Surprise your guests with unique cheeses. These unexpected flavors can be a memorable addition.

Some of our favorite suggestions:

Tulip Tree Trillium (item #25790 / 27177) – This cow’s milk triple cream, bloomy-rind cheese draws inspiration from French classics, Camembert and Brie. Boasting a soft, buttery texture with rich, smooth flavors and gentle lactic tones, it earned second place in the World Cheese Competition in 2020.

Sequatchie Cove Shakerag Blue (item #91934) – Shakerag is a crumbly yet dense blue-veined cheese cloaked in local fig leaves which have been soaked in Chattanooga Whiskey. Its sweet and fruity interior is reminiscent of root beer, and lends itself to more savory notes of bacon and dark chocolate towards the rind.

Kenny’s 10 year Reserve Cheddar (item #32172) – Get it while it lasts! Fans of Kenny’s Reserve Cheddar or extreme-aged cheddars will love this 10-year old offering. Surprisingly buttery for its age, it has taken on many of the characteristics of a heavily-aged Gouda with plenty of crystallization and a very strong caramel finish.

Capriole Mont St. Francis (item #91113) – Mont St. Francis, an intense, beefy, and earthy cheese, embodies a hearty and stinky character with its semi-hard texture and rich profile. Crafted by Capriole Farmstead, this award-winning goat cheese is meticulously handmade, using milk sourced from a local Indiana farm.

Accompaniments:

Add complementary accompaniments like honey, mustard, jams and chutney to enhance the flavors of both the meats and cheeses. These condiments provide a sweet, tangy, or spicy contrast.

Make sure to include something sweet and something spicy to accompany the varying flavors you’ve already picked with the meats and cheeses.

Some of our favorite suggestions:

Membrillo/quince jam (item #93605 / 96328) – Membrillo (quince paste) contains only three ingredients: quince, sugar, and lemon, cooked into a reddish paste. The naturally high pectin content in the Valencian quince gives the paste its firm and jelly like texture.

Orange blossom honey (item #93506) – This honey is brimming with bright, citrusy notes that are sure to captivate your palate, made from orange blossoms to impart a mild and citrus-scented flavor you’re bound to adore.

Whole grain mustard (item #95107 / 95106) – A pleasant and very sweet mustard that acquired its flavor as a result of the maceration of the whole mustard seeds in the cider vinegar.

Fresh, Dried and Pickled Produce:

Incorporate fresh and dried fruits, such as figs, grapes, or apple slices, to add a natural sweetness and refreshing element that balances the richness of the meats and cheeses.

To balance out the bread-based vessels to hold your bites, consider including bell peppers or celery to serve as your base as well.

Include pickled or briny vegetables like pickles, pickled onions, or olives. Their tangy and briny flavors cut through the richness of the meats and cheeses.

Some of our favorite suggestions:

Fig almond cake (item #94036 / 91179) – Handmade in Valencia, Spain, this wheat-free cake is crafted from Pajarero figs and Marcona almonds – a traditional combination with nothing else. Your gluten-sensitive friends will thank you for this flourless delight, where almonds are hand-pressed between layers of whole dried figs.

Gordal olives (item #98866 / 95556) – The name gordal means “the fat one” due to it’s round shape and large size (over 6gr). Due to its low oil content it is exclusively used for table olives. It has a fine delicate flavor, similar to manzanilla, and a firm, meaty texture. Losada uses a neutral brine which results in a balanced salt to bitterness ratio, so that you can really taste the flesh of the olive.

Pear Mostarda (item #90596 / 30086) – This traditional condiment from Mantova skillfully balances hand-cut candied pears with a hint of potent mustard extract.

Textured Crackers,  Bread, Nuts and Seeds:

Introduce a variety of textured crackers and breadsticks to add crunch and variety. Choose options with nuts or seeds for an extra layer of flavor and visual interest.

Incorporate a selection of nuts and seeds, such as candied pecans or roasted almonds. They add a delightful crunch and nuttiness to the board.

Some of our favorite suggestions:

Quicos corn nuts (item #17595) – GMO-free Quicos are giant corn kernels that have been soaked in water, then fried and salted. This delightfully cruncy snack pairs perfectly with beer and is a great addition to a cheese plate.

Le Tresor Crackers for cheese (item #92321) – These little bite sized waffle crackers might be the perfect cracker! Light enough to not overpower your topping, but just the right thickness to not fall apart while you dress it with your favorite spread.

Blanched Hazelnuts (item #95340 / 95313) – Blanched hazelnuts are hazelnuts, or filberts, have had their skins removed, revealing a smooth and creamy nutty interior. This enhances the hazelnuts’ flavor profile by eliminating any bitterness associated with the skin

Aesthetic Touches

Artful Arrangement:

  • Arrange the elements in a visually appealing manner. Place cheeses of different shapes and colors strategically, and layer cured meats in a cascading fashion. Creating symmetry or asymmetry can both be aesthetically pleasing so do whatever you feel works best for your ingredients.
  • Consider placing meats and cheeses that you want to encourage pairing next to each other.
  • Make the meat stand out, literally. Fold or roll salami and prosciutto to give it more shape and add volume on the board.
  • And keep in mind that placement is important. Hard cheeses should be on the outside of the board if they aren’t already sliced, and soft/spreadable cheeses toward the inside, to make accessing everything easier.

Microflowers and Herbs:

Bring on the color by garnishing with microflowers and fresh herbs. Edible flowers like pansies, purple pepper, or fire stix add an unexpected pop of color, while herbs like rosemary or thyme contribute fragrance and a hint of freshness.

Pansies – Edible Mix (item #40032) – Pansies are one of the most popular edible flowers, both because you can eat their sepals and because they come in such a wide array of colors.

Purple Pepper Micro (item #02377) – Beautiful dark purple colored 6-7 petaled gems. Mild, sweet bell pepper taste.

Firestix (item #40310) – Firestix are the brightly colored flowers of the amaranth plant. The blossoms have a delicate, plume-like appearance and can be purple, magenta, red, gold and green in color and a neutral flavor that is mildly reminiscent of corn silk.

Crafting the ultimate charcuterie board is an art that combines flavors, textures, and aesthetics. By balancing a variety of cured meats, cheeses, and accompaniments, and adding artistic touches like microflowers, you can create a visually stunning and palate-pleasing experience. Don’t be afraid to experiment with unexpected ingredients, as they can elevate your charcuterie board to new heights, leaving a lasting impression on your guests.

Standout Center-of-the-Plate Options That Wow For the Holidays 

By | Beef, Berkshire Pork, Chef's Feed, Ham, Meats, Pork, Poultry, Seafood, What Chefs Want

The holiday season is not just a time for festive decorations and gifts—it’s also a time for chefs to shine by creating memorable dining experiences. According to a recent survey by the National Restaurant Association, nearly 60% of consumers are planning to dine out at a restaurant during the holidays, while 50% intend to order takeout or delivery for gatherings at home. This holiday season, we are highlighting some center-of-the-plate options from What Chefs Want that will not only dazzle your patrons but also keep them coming back for more.

Beef

During the holiday season, beef takes the spotlight with its robust flavors and versatile options. Whether it’s the marbling of a ribeye, the tenderness of a filet, the heartiness of beef shanks, or the exceptional quality of a tenderloin, beef provides a diverse range of choices that cater to different preferences. Let’s check out some beef options that make for an ideal centerpiece during the holidays, offering a combination of taste and variety that appeals to a broad audience.

Tenderloin: A must-have center of the plate option for the season. This is a sought-after cut of meat known for its tenderness, lean profile, and exceptional flavor. Beef tenderloin is versatile and can be prepared in various ways to suit different preferences. What Chefs Want has tenderloin option to fit every chef’s need.

Choice Tenderloin (#00089) (#00535)

Trimmed Grain Fed Tenderloin (#30625)*

Black Hawk Reserve Tenderloins (#26956) – 100% F1 American Wagyu Beef from Black Hawk Farms

Prime Lipon Ribeye (#00171)*: The ribeye’s high fat content makes it well-suited for grilling. The fat renders during cooking, creating flare-ups that contribute to a flavorful sear on the exterior.

Beef Shanks (#26692)*: Beef Shanks provide a heartwarming and bold option for holiday diners. beef shanks are favored by chefs for their rich flavor, versatility in cooking methods, budget-friendly nature, and ability to contribute to the creation of deeply satisfying and comforting dishes.

Ham

Loved for its ability to embody tradition and innovation simultaneously, ham has become a holiday staple, bringing comfort, flavor, and a touch of sophistication to festive gatherings. Let’s check out some favorites for the center of your table.

Berkshire Honey Glazed Hams (#01036)*: This fully cooked whole Berkshire honey glazed ham is slow smoked over applewood chops to enhance the flavor. Its savory and slightly sweet flavor profile complements a wide array of festive accompaniments.

Spiral Ham Halves (#00447)*: This is a fully cooked, spiral sliced, bone in, honey glazed ham that is synonymous with the holidays.

Poultry

When it comes to holiday menus with duck and chicken, steer clear of standard cuts to offer a refined culinary experience. From the indulgent richness of duck to the diverse possibilities presented by unique chicken cuts, such as osso bucco, chefs can transform holiday poultry into masterpieces that go beyond the ordinary, ensuring a sophisticated and memorable dining experience.

Duck Leg & Thigh (#00890), Duck Breast (#00841): Contrary to its poultry companions like chicken and turkey, duck strides into the realm of red meat, ushering in a diverse flavor profile akin to steak. Maple Leaf Farm duck has no artificial ingredients.

Poulet Rouge Fermier (#00847): When you want the most succulent chicken the world can offer, you want Poulet Rouge Fermier. This renowned breed has an irreplaceable standing in French cuisine.

Airline Breast (#72001): This is a boneless, skin-on half breast with the first wing joint attached, between 7-9 oz each. The attached wing drumette not only adds an aesthetic appeal to the plate but also gives the dish a distinctive and elegant look.

Chicken Osso Bucco (#00909): Transform a classic dish with a holiday twist —Chicken Osso Bucco brings comfort and elegance to the table. This is Frenched drumstick with the meat pulled down towards large end resembling a “Lollipop”.

Lamb

From succulent lamb leg to tender loin chops and impressive New Zealand lamb racks, offer a spectrum of flavors and textures for lamb enthusiasts. The versatility of lamb allows chefs to showcase their culinary creativity, offering a unique and memorable dining experience that complements the celebratory atmosphere of holiday gatherings.

Lamb Leg (#62505)*: The lamb leg is known for its tenderness. It is a prime cut that responds well to roasting, grilling, or slow cooking methods, allowing the meat to become fork-tender. This is a lamb leg from Freedom Run Farms is deboned, rolled and tied.

Lamb Loin Chop (#62526)*: Lamb chops are prized for their tenderness and rich flavor. The meat closer to the bone often carries more flavor, and the delicate nature of the chops makes them a favorite among those who appreciate a more refined taste. Each chop is cut to 1.5″ thickness and weighs approximately 7-8oz.

New Zealand Lamb Rack (#00408): A lamb rack is a premium and visually striking cut of lamb that is prized for its tenderness, succulence, and presentation.

Seafood

Including a variety of high-quality seafood into holiday menus allows chefs to showcase their culinary prowess, cater to diverse preferences, and wow customers with elegance, creativity, and a touch of indulgence.

Halibut (#49148): Chefs appreciate halibut for its ability to serve as a canvas for culinary creativity. Its neutral taste allows for inventive flavor pairings, making it a versatile ingredient for both classic and contemporary seafood dishes.

Ora King Salmon (#23794): Ora King Salmon, often hailed as the “Wagyu of the Sea,” is a premium breed of King Salmon (Chinook Salmon) known for its exceptional quality and flavor. The premium quality of Ora King Salmon makes it a favorite for gourmet presentations.

Seabass (#49141): Sea bass is renowned for its mild, delicate flavor, making it a favorite among seafood enthusiasts. The flesh is tender with a slightly sweet taste, allowing chefs to showcase its natural qualities through various cooking methods.

Swordfish (#48129): Swordfish has a firm, meaty texture, making it hold up well to various cooking methods, allowing chefs to create hearty and satisfying dishes. The dense texture of seabass steaks allows them to hold up to high-heat cooking methods, resulting in a satisfying sear on the outside while maintaining juiciness on the inside.

Mariblu Shrimp (#33206): These delectable shrimp are renowned for their exquisite flavor, and what sets them apart is their commitment to both your palate and the environment. Mariblu Brand Shrimp are carefully sourced and processed to ensure they are 100% phosphate-free. 

Cooked Shrimp (#48633): These head-off, tail-on cooked shrimp are ready to use for your holiday menu needs.

Tempura Shrimp (#48709): These Shrimp Tempura Tzukuri are frozen and coated in a light, airy batter ready to be deep-fried to golden perfection.  The contrast between the crunchy exterior of the tempura and the tender, juicy shrimp inside creates a delightful sensory experience.

Bacon Wrapped Shrimp (#90610): These large tail-off shrimp are wrapped in lean bacon and held together with a toothpick skewer, ready to bake for a delightful holiday appetizer.  

Scallops (#32713): Whether served as a delicate appetizer or the centerpiece of an exquisite dish, scallops remain one of the ocean’s most celebrated culinary treats. Scallops are known for their delicate, sweet flavor and tender, buttery texture.

King Crab Legs (#48396): When you hear the shell crack, the sweet, succulent crab is just moments away! The Red King Crab is the most majestic of all crab, with a tender, sweet, succulent meat unlike any other crab in the world.

Jumbo Lump Crab (#48204): Jumbo Lump is beautiful, whole pieces of firm, succulent white meat picked from the two large swimming fin muscles of the crab. This product is perfect for high quality crab cakes, cocktail presentations or sautéing. There are between 75-100 pieces per can.

Canadian Lobster Tails (#48423): Enjoy the mild, sweet, and distinctive flavor of these beautiful 7-8 oz lobster tails caught in the pristine, cold waters of eastern Canada. Frozen raw and uncooked, they thaw easily and can be boiled, steamed, grilled or prepared your favorite way in minutes.

This holiday season, the National Restaurant Association survey reveals that consumers are eager to let restaurants handle the cooking, making it the perfect time to showcase your culinary prowess. With our premium center-of-the-plate options, you can create a holiday menu that not only reduces stress for your patrons but also leaves a lasting impression. As diners seek convenience, loyalty, and memorable dining experiences, What Chefs Want provides the ingredients to make your restaurant the holiday destination of choice. Happy holidays and happy cooking!

*Items may not be available in all regions and subject to availability