Trends & Insights
Breaking the Bonds of Pepper and Cheese
Thursday, June 22, 2017
By Chef Michael Terry
Since brothers Pat and Harry Olivieri started grilling thinly sliced steak on their street cart then adding peppers, onion and (eventually) cheese and stuffing it inside a sturdy roll the “Philly Cheesesteak” sandwich has enjoyed a long and popular run. Through the almost 100 year run of this popular foodstuff many variations have come to life. Some are regional like Mayo on the Cali Philly, French fries in Western Pennsylvania, spicy peppers in the SW USA. So “Wit” and “wit-out” no longer just refers to fried onions and Cheez Whiz.
In almost every corner of the globe thinly sliced steak is a staple. And ethnic cuisine and “Street Food” are on the front burner of most menus.
The Torta is a common street food in Mexico, it consists of a thinly sliced or chopped protein (beef is most common) in a crusty Bolillo or Torpedo roll with avocado, a spread of refried beans, sliced fresh jalapeno, cilantro and a squeeze of lime. And the variations are endless by location and vendor.
French cuisine was introduced to the culture of Vietnam around the 1860’s. An example of true “fusion” cuisine the Banh Mi came about after the light, airy and crusty baguette (along with other French ingredients such as jalapeno and mayonnaise) were combined with other S.E. Asian staples of pickled vegetables, coriander and cucumber. The Banh Mi (in Vietnamese it means wheat bread) has been growing in popularity in the US for some time now. And it’s evolution from specialty shops, food trucks and small plates to more mainstream menus is gaining more momentum.
“Bowls” may start with noodles, rice, beans or vegetables are another growing trend. With the demand for “customizable” options becoming more and more popular “Bowls” are the perfect fit. Typically the customer begins by selection a base then adds vegetables, starches, seasonings and a protein. Sometimes the proteins are precooked (IQF fully cooked sliced steak anyone?) but often they are cooked to order.
Both brick and mortar restaurants and food truck operators are finding that purchasing a pre-sliced, pre-portioned (or bulk) sliced steak (both fully cooked and ready to cook) and proportioned, pre-sliced chicken breast give them endless uses, more control over consistent plate cost and decreased cross contamination concern