Each cheese you use is at a particular stage on the Menu Adoption Cycle. Do you know what these stages are? It is important to understand the characteristic differences of each stage. Trends in the adoption stage, for example, are likely to continue growing, as they have (just) begun to gain broad support. Those in the inception stage, meanwhile, are cutting edge, but may come with greater risk before hitting the mainstream
Coming to Menus Near You
We witness the birth of a trend—typically started in the fine dining segment and often borrowing from ethnic cooking.
- Taleggio: One of the oldest cheeses from Italy is starting to find its way onto sandwiches, pizzas, and cheese plates, thanks to the growing popularity of regional Italian cuisines.
Here to Stay
Edgy cheese adopted into fine dining.
- Artisan Cheddar: Aged or flavor-induced cheddar is gracing burger, appetizer, and sandwich menus.
- Burrata: This cream filled mozzarella is being used to add layers of flavor to pizzas and salads (especially those with beets, arugula, and prosciutto).
- Queso Fresco and Cotija: Mexican and Latin American cheeses are being added to ethnic dishes.
- Gruyère: An upscale take on Swiss used in croque-monsieur, mac and cheese, burgers, and atop French onion soup.
- Smoked Cheeses: Smoke’s robust flavor is elevating American classics like burgers, BBQ, mac and cheese, sandwiches, and salads. Popular varieties include Gouda, mozzarella, and provolone.
Playing It Safe
Cheese rapidly (and excessively) spreading in casual dining and chains.
- Havarti: Versatile cheese that works well sliced, grilled, and melted on sandwiches or in snacks. Pairs well with other flavors such as dill and Peppadew.
- Asiago and Romano: Popular cheese in baking. Also popular for shaving atop bitter salad greens or for replacing Parmesan in some Italian favorites.
- Fresh Mozzarella: Continues to be added to menus in caprese salads and sandwiches.
- Goat: Typically found crumbled on salads, spread on vegetable sandwiches, and added to four- or five-cheese pizzas.
- Fontina: Popular pairing for ham or turkey sandwiches, and added to four- or five-cheese pizza or pasta.
Same Old, Same Old
A trend penetrates America’s midscale restaurants, establishing itself firmly in the American mainstream.
- Pepperjack: Used primarily to add heat to burgers and sandwiches. Some operators have added padron and shishito peppers for a more unique, spicy flavor.
- Bleu Cheese: Served on burgers, steaks, salad. No surprise there.
As Seen On Menus…
The following is a sampling of how restaurants across the country have found ways to utilize Havarti on their menus.
- Steakhouse Burger: Grilled sirloin burger topped with cabernet demi-glace, creamy Havarti cheese, and rosemary bacon.
- Turkey and Havarti Roll: Smoked turkey breast, crisp bacon, chopped scallions, dill Havarti cheese, and cranberry chipotle sauce wrapped in a flour tortilla.
- Steak and Portobello Melt: Beef tenderloin with grilled portobello, crispy onions, and chive Havarti on a rustic French roll.
- Thanksgiving Sandwich: Turkey, cranberry sauce, Havarti, and Sriracha.
- Fried Pickle Cheeseburger: Cheeseburger topped with melted dill Havarti, fried pickle chips, ketchup and lettuce.