Chefs Culinary Corner

Our team of skilled chefs shares their inspirations and tips for creating menu success.

Update on the Classics

What are some classic menu items you see returning to menus? How are they becoming more modern and trendy?

Right now, chefs are doing really interesting things with more traditional desserts. I think classics like sundaes and milkshakes never go out of style. The ultimate shake has been trending for a while now, but with all of the creative combinations and add-ons we’re seeing, it never gets old. I created a few modernized versions myself, such as the Ultimate Apple Pie Milkshake and the Ultimate Cookie Milkshake.

Sundaes are another breakout area where chefs are really having fun. A sundae can take almost any form or flavor combination, so there are no limits to the places it can go. Recently I deconstructed a strawberry GOLDEN OREO sundae. Instead of piling everything on top, I focused on plating the different elements to give it an upscale vibe that can be successful in a number of different restaurant styles—from fast casual to fine dining. In another recipe I put gold leaf on the ice cream as garnish and drizzled on a caramel sauce. It added a touch of elegance, but it’s still made with GOLDEN OREO Cookies, so it’s fun and approachable.

How have you enhanced classic dishes to work with Mondelēz brands and for your customers? Can you provide examples?

We know that recognizable ingredients move menu items.1 It’s a proven fact. That’s why creating and sharing innovative recipes featuring our brands is such an important part of what we do here at Mondelēz International. It’s really rewarding to take a beloved item like a classic OREO Cookie and come up with something unique, delicious and, most importantly, appealing. For example, the Banana Split Pie. Instead of a traditional sundae, I turned it into a pie with OREO Cookie. It gives chefs and operators an innovative new dessert to menu with the power of OREO, a brand we know consumers love at home. 2

The Toasted Mexican Chocolate Ice Cream Pie is another fun update to a classic. It’s one of my absolute favorites on our website. It’s a fun take on a classic chocolate cream pie—with layers of OREO Pie Crust, OREO Creme Variegate and chocolate meringue. Texturally, it is just so good. Each layer hits you, creating this really satisfying balance.

S’mores flavors are also trending right now. The S’mores Pots de Creme with a HONEY MAID Graham Crumble creates a more upscale version on a classic. I also did a S’mores Fudge Brownie with milk chocolate chips, a thick graham crust and a big swoop of meringue on top. It looks cool and tastes even better. Both s’mores desserts are very different from one another, but each offers a new take on the traditional handheld s’mores you had growing up.

Are there any traditional dishes in particular that you believe are timeless?

I know we’ve talked about milkshakes a lot, but there’s a reason. They don’t get old. Especially with all the fun innovations out there. I think they keep resurfacing in different ways because they stand the test of time and are great bases for new recipes and flavor combinations. As a child, everyone was likely taken somewhere for a milkshake on a hot summer day. A shake was something that you didn’t get to have every day, making it a special treat. Now, instead of just a classic vanilla or chocolate milkshake, you can get an ultimate shake—with crazy add-ons and unique flavors—and it makes the experience so much more fun and engaging. The dessert becomes more of an event.

Cheesecakes and pies are true classics too. They’re those kinds of desserts your mom used to make for a special occasion—you know, it took a little more time and care to make. There was nothing better than a nice fresh pie or creamy slice of cheesecake. Their popularity lives on because they’re so versatile. From seasonal ingredients to trending flavor combos, you can have a lot of fun playing around with both of these kinds of desserts. They offer great bases to try out new flavors.

Menuing familiar, nostalgic flavors is a great way to increase sales, particularly among diners who are looking to get a taste of the past and younger generations who are open to trying new flavors. How do you approach this?

Classic recipes remind people of special moments they’ve experienced when food was at the center. Coming up with new ways to serve nostalgic recipes is a fun challenge and can be very rewarding when achieved. It’s all about taking something familiar and adding a little new and interesting extra. Many of our brands are nostalgic in their own right. Generations have grown up with OREO. Same for RITZ Crackers and CHIPS AHOY! Cookies, among others. So, if you want successful—and profitable—menu items, you have to be careful not to turn people off when creating something new with these ingredients.

I like to recreate nostalgic favorites in a way that doesn’t look the same as the traditional dish, or use the ingredient in a traditional way, but offers the same flavor appeal to make sure the attraction is still there. We can take a slice of pie or ice cream sundae and serve it in a new way. It could be in a tart form, maybe there’s a big crumble on top, or caramel shards; something that speaks to the flavor but in a different form. You’re still getting all of that homey retro flavor consumers like, but it looks new, unique and Instagrammable. A lot of the time we think it has to be bigger than that but it doesn’t—simply changing the form can give it a whole new life.

For example, when gochujang first become popular, chefs wanted to use it without calling it out since no one really knew what it was and they didn’t want to scare people away. Many started adding it to ketchup as a burger topper. It allowed consumers to enjoy a little spice introduced into a very familiar flavor that added a whole new taste profile to traditional burgers.

And that’s what’s really great about reimagining nostalgic flavors. It doesn’t matter if it’s sweet or savory, it just has to be surprising, in the best ways possible.

  • 1. Technomic, Branding at Foodservice—A Balancing Act (Feb. 2018)
  • 2. Nielsen, Multi-Outlet Household Panel—52 weeks ending 12/29/18
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