Chefs are giving diners the experience they are asking for
The average diner is no longer willing to shell out top dollar for a huge slab of steak with cream of spinach on the side. Modern chefs are innovating to meet customer demand for something fresh and memorable, says Sterling Silver® Premium Meats Chef Pete Geoghegan.
Here, we look at some ways to create something new within the steakhouse sector.
Steakhouse menus have traditionally been dominated by three cuts of meat: ribeye, tenderloin, and strip steak. According to Chef Pete, many alternative cuts have gained momentum, including flat iron, tri tip sirloin, and different areas of the chuck.
“Because traditional cuts are a bit pricier, you can make more profit on these alt cuts, and they’re still fantastic eating experiences for diners,” Chef Pete says. “You might have to do a little more to put a spin on some of these new, trendier cuts, but you can make them so tender and flavorful, and the customer’s still going to walk away and say, ‘Man, that was killer.’”
Healthy, diverse side dishes are a great way for steakhouses to draw in a new crowd of diners. Sides also offer chefs a venue for showing off their signature style.
“There’s so much more diversity in the things being eaten now, and there’s also a greater emphasis on healthy eating,” Chef Pete says. “Chefs are really experimenting with side dishes that go along with an indulgent steak offering and making sure there’s a health play.”
One way for chefs to separate their steakhouse menu is by incorporating fine foods and international flavors. Chef Pete points to a recipe the Sterling Silver team developed under the creative vision of culinary director Chef Stephen Giunta: a short rib braised with Asian flavors, served over sticky rice with small pieces of foie gras.
“What I love about this is the plays on traditional Asian flavors, combined with taking a dish like sticky rice and reimagining it with something as indulgent as foie gras,” Chef Pete says. “It makes it a modern dish that still plays well in a steakhouse setting and can be sold at a premium, and you don’t have to put 20 pounds of food on a plate to accomplish that.”
The Modern Steakhouse Evolution
Crisp white linen tablecloths and huge T-bones with a potato on the side were the default during the heyday of the classic steakhouse. As demographics have shifted and Millennials have significant buying power when it comes to dining out, steakhouse tastes and trends have shifted in turn. Diners are looking for excitement, variety, a memorable experience – not for the same menu and same options over and over again.
Younger generations are dining out in groups, and they’re looking for smaller dishes or sharing plates to pass during dinner. Small plates offer a prime opportunity for chefs to create globally-inspired dishes and experiment with flavors while offering a dish at a reasonable price-point for guests who want to try new flavors and styles without committing to a huge plate of food.
The Right Meat Partner
With all of the new trends driving success for steakhouse brands, one thing remains unchanged: It’s important to be starting with a quality product. The right meat partner can help brands deliver a consistent experience for chefs and diners alike.
“No matter how much kitchen technology evolves, the product you start with still makes all the difference,” Chef Pete says. “A meat program like Sterling Silver is scientific and has stood the test of time.”