Prior to the pandemic, Datassential reported that 75 percent of consumers enjoyed eating ethnic-inspired foods from mainstream restaurants. During the pandemic, Datassential released a new report that said what diners were craving most from restaurants: global entrees and appetizers.
It makes sense. After months stuck at home and unable to travel, consumers were looking for an experience that transported them to another time and place. Add into the mix the steady popularity of chef-centric binge-worthy television that was transporting Americans to faraway places, and diners are more educated than ever not just about global cuisines that have achieved ubiquity—like Italian, Mexican, and Chinese foods—but region-specific foods like Hunan and Sichuan cuisines from China, for example.
“Even before the pandemic, everybody wanted to be an influencer on social media,” says Teresa Oncel, corporate chef at Lee Kum Kee. “They want to know the story behind their food so that they can in turn experience it, and tell that story. Building authentic dishes that are not just ‘Chinese’ or ‘Thai’ or ‘Mexican’ but actually getting it down to the regional level and really leaning into the wide array of global flavors will generate interest in your menu.”
Oncel says that when she is speaking with chefs looking for insights into future trends, she is always asked one question: What is the next Sriracha? One candidate Oncel points to is Chiu Chow Chili Oil, a steadily growing sauce from the Guangdong province of China that is made of fried chili and garlic bits, seasoned with soy sauce and submerged in a savory chili oil. “The chili oil is aromatic and leaves the palate with smooth lingering heat in a flavorful bite,” Oncel says.
Chiu Chow Chili Oil one of Lee Kum Kee’s many versatile products that help create an authentic story behind a dish. Not only that, but as chefs look to optimize their menus and deliver something diners will love, versatile products like Chiu Chow Chili Oil are as important as ever. Lee Kum Kee’s signature sauces can help create authentic Seoul street food, or Thai Chili Wings that taste like they were made in Bangkok.
“Chefs can be innovative and creative using our versatile sauces that help achieve a wide array of global dishes,” Oncel says. “I’m not sure I’ve ever heard a chef complain about a product being too versatile, so we’re always there to fill that need.”
Aside from versatility, one of the things that separates Lee Kum Kee’s products is the farm-to-fork nature of its unique fermentation process. Oncel says the company manages all of its chili and oyster farms which helps give them control over which ingredients are chosen and will perform best to create the highest quality product.
“Few manufacturers can say that they ferment their own ingredients,” Oncel says. “So our products always start with that integrity. And then you add in the fact that we have strong local and international R&D support when we’re creating both our traditional signature sauces and developing new products that help operators stay on trend. It’s a winning combination of quality and innovation that helps operators develop global flavors that diners will love.”
To find out more about versatile products that help create authentic global flavors, visit the Lee Kum Kee website.