It’s the time of year to promote signature seasonal produce from Markon – the tenderest Markon First Crop Asparagus, the crunchiest Ready-Set-Serve Cabbage, and versatile red potatoes. For operators, March is a chance to jump start the season and get customers excited about what’s to come for the rest of the year.
“People are sick and tired of the winters in Calgary, so they’re looking forward to seeing spring ingredients,” says Doug Park, the Executive Chef of Hotel Blackfoot in Calgary, Alberta. “Beginning in March, we play up bright colors and offer lots of limited time offers, especially around St. Patrick’s Day. Our guests love it.”
Throughout March, St. Patrick’s Day is certainly an occasion to play around with cabbage-forward recipes like Charred Cabbage Wedges with Korean BBQ Sauce and Cabbage & Sausage. The month is also ripe to have fun with other themes, so in that spirit, here are three fantastic ways to maximize March Menus.
All-Day Breakfast Menu
Experts say that breakfast is the hottest daypart for 2022. Customers crave it because it’s the ultimate comfort food, says Park, and it reminds them of home.
“Comfort food is what makes people really feel at home, and all-day breakfast is getting to be a big part of that,” adds Park of the Hotel Blackfoot in Calgary, Alberta. “People want poached eggs over salads or the power bowls that are trending right now, where you have a perfectly cooked egg and that yolk just coats your quinoa and you accent it with some fresh vegetables. It adds layers to your offering.”
Those layers help carry these dishes into the afternoon, evening, and even late night, helping to make all-day breakfast menus attractive. That’s not to say operators should create an entirely new menu, but adding a few key breakfasts dishes to regular offerings may catch guests’ eyes.
For example, adding steamed asparagus and poached eggs to a simple green-leaf Romaine salad elevates it from side dish to entrée. Or including a social media-worthy dish of Asparagus with Balsamic and Olive Oil or serving Basil-Garlic Asparagus in an omelet, frittata, or quiche to offer a sense of seasonality and craveability.
Blackboard Menus featuring Seasonal Dishes
Prominently featuring blackboards in the dining room is another way to get customers excited about seasonal dishes and beverages. That lets them know that they have a limited time to enjoy them and that the chefs are using the freshest ingredients.
“I try to approach vegetables in such an exciting way that it becomes part of customers’ experience at the restaurant whether or not they purposely came here for that,” explains Travis Peters, owner and chef of The Parish, which boasts an all-day, New Orleans-style menu in Tucson, Arizona. “We do well promoting special dishes on social media to get our customers excited about eating our delicious offerings.”
At Hotel Blackfoot, chef Park utilizes “fresh sheets” in his kitchen, signaling the produce of the moment to his culinary team. He best enjoys switching up classic dishes by adding a seasonal ingredient. That’s the true sign of a chef, he says.
“When people ask me why I’m a chef,” says Park, “I tell them that I can take a popular dish and give it to them in different ways, depending on the season.” For guests, that could easily translate into a classic ravioli dish springing alive just by adding steamed asparagus and chives.
St. Patrick’s Day
McDonald’s famed Shamrock Shakes hit menus in late February, and customers snap them up for the next several weeks. That lets you know that it’s a great opportunity to celebrate the occasion throughout March with seasonal specials guests can only get once a year.
You can do a lot with asparagus, red potatoes, and of course, cabbage for Irish-inspired menus. At Hotel Blackfoot, chef Park offers classic cuisine taken up a notch with a few of his well-honed techniques.
“Braised cabbage is quite good when you pop it with a little bit of fennel to give it a licorice taste,” says Park about his special ingredient for the corned beef and cabbage. Also, he continues, red potatoes hold up well because of the starchiness in them. “They’re versatile, whether you want to use them in an Irish stew or as an accompaniment on a plate.”
He also recommends how to best cook asparagus for use in a corned beef frittata, omelet, or quiche for a St. Paddy’s Day brunch. “Grill it with fresh lemon,” he suggests. “Just the caramelization of the sugars on the outside and a little bit of lemon will balance it out and pop your palate a little bit.”
Markon Cooperative, Inc. brings a fresh approach and thinking to all of its premium farm-to-table produce so foodservice operators can bring the freshest ideas to their consumers. Based in Salinas, California, Markon serves as the produce purchasing, logistics, information, and marketing partner for its five member distributors (Ben E. Keith Foods, Gordon Food Service, Gordon Food Service Canada, Nicholas & Company, and Shamrock Foods) and their North American foodservice customers. Learn more about Markon’s commitment to providing the highest-quality, safest, and freshest produce at Markon.com.