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Sweet + Savory

Is there a more addictive, craveable flavor combination than sweet and savory? Foods like pineapple pizza or chocolate-dipped pretzels have shown to activate additional sweetness receptors on the tongue, giving a true mouthwatering quality to sweet and savory pairings. Today’s operators are taking these classic combos to new heights, with innovative complexity that enhances flavor without being overpowering. Especially in fine dining, where chefs are taking a more experimental approach, unexpected dishes like burrata with strawberries, cherry tomatoes and fennel are surprising and delighting patrons. 

If your patrons aren’t ready to step that far outside their comfort zones, have no fear. Flavor research shows that ingredients like mango, brown sugar and maple are helping to lend a sweet touch to traditionally savory dishes, while wasabi, miso, rosemary, sea salt and bacon have emerged as major players on the conventionally sweet side. From barbecue to ice cream, condiments to beverages, mild to spicy and everything in between—sweet + savory flavors give signature flair to a range of menu items and can serve to bridge the gap between dayparts.

Pineapple Pizza Slice 



From sweet to savory and everything in between, Custom Culinary® products deliver complementary flavors across the menu. Try these recipes for inspiration.

Sweet 'n' Spicy Korean Fried Chicken

Bourbon Cherry Salmon Burger
Crisp vegetables, Custom Culinary® Gold Label Kentucky-Style Bourbon Sauce and sweet-tart cherry compote provide a unique contrast to the flavor of a griddled salmon burger.
View Recipe

Southern-style Chicken and Waffles with Bacon-Onion Maple Syrup
A generous spoonful of maple syrup mixed with Custom Culinary® Gold Label Bacon Onion Marmalade adds a sweet touch to crispy fried chicken and waffles.
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Sweet 'n' Spicy Korean Fried Chicken
Custom Culinary® Korean-Style Sweet Heat Sauce brings crave-worthy flavor to chicken wings, fried to a perfect golden crisp.
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Curried Shrimp and Grits

Bacon and Walnut Bread Pudding
This sweet-salty bread pudding is studded with crispy bacon bits, toasted walnuts and dried cherries, topped with Custom Culinary® Dark Chocolate Cabernet Sauce* and garnished with a slice of dark chocolate-covered bacon.

Sweet Heat Korean Cheesesteak
Shaved beef is seared and tossed in Custom Culinary® Gochujang Hot Honey Sauce*, served on a hoagie roll with kimchi, griddled onions and melty mozzarella cheese.

Peaches and Brie Waffle Sandwich
A crispy fried chicken thigh sandwiched between two grilled peach-studded waffles, topped with Custom Culinary® Peach and Pink Peppercorn Chutney* and melted brie.

Curried Shrimp and Grits
For a sweet and savory entrée, top turmeric, garlic and scallion-seasoned grits with shrimp, bell peppers and onions stewed in Custom Culinary® Tamarind Coconut Curry Sauce*. Garnish with Thai basil and pomegranate seeds.

Spicy Caramel Pot Stickers
Nuoc mau is a Vietnamese staple. Our version, Custom Culinary® Fish Sauce Caramel*, is infused with Thai bird’s eye chilies and dresses up short rib dumplings, which are garnished with sliced green onion and toasted sesame seeds.

Chef's Perpective:
Pumpkin, The King of Sweet and Savory

As declared by Felix Salmon in a 2012 New York Magazine, ‘Pumpkin is the NEW Bacon!’ There seems to be a cult like devotion to pumpkin this fall. Pumpkin is no longer reserved for the humble pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving time; it has become a flavor additive to sweet and savory dishes. LSRs and FSRs have picked up on this trend.  Pumpkin has been the latest menu craze, appearing in everything from alcoholic beverages to pasta dishes. According to Datassential, this year looks to be the most active year for seasonal pumpkin menuing. In the beverage department, pumpkin drink offerings have increased 400 percent during the past five years!  Starbuck’s Pumpkin Spice Latte has been in such high demand that there has been a shortage.

pumpkin soup

It’s just as much about the spices as it is the pumpkin. Pumpkin on its own is not an exciting vegetable but when paired with a blend of fall spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and allspice) it becomes the flavor people associate fall with. In fact, the aroma of the pumpkin spice blend is powerful enough that you don’t even need to actually have pumpkin in your dish to capitalize on this fall flavor. Cash in on this seasonal flavor by incorporating fall spices into your LTO’s.

Also, amidst rising crop prices, the price of pumpkins have remained the same. Pumpkins are drought resistant and this year’s crop wasn’t badly affected so this makes pumpkin one of the most economical vegetables to cook with this season.

Indulge your customers by offering up a pumpkin LTO. Soups make for an easy way to incorporate the sweet and savory flavors of pumpkin into your menu. Why not try a few of our favorites:

  • Pumpkin White Bean Soup: A healthy and hearty vegetarian option that incorporates the flavors of the season. Garnish with toasted pepitas.

  • Jamaican Pumpkin Sweet Potato Soup: Craving something spicy? This Jamaican soup combines sweet pumpkin, seasonal spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, and hot sauce.

  • Pumpkin and Crab Bisque: This soup calls for crab and lobster meat but feel free to use any available seafood or leftover protein of your choice.

Do you have any pumpkin dishes on your menu?
Chef Mike Speranza, CEC



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*Products are customized; please contact your Custom Culinary® representative for more information.

Andrew Bui, “The science behind why sweet and salty are the perfect taste combination,” Business Insider, December 1, 2017.
Elizabeth Crawford, “Consumers want internationally inspired flavors, but also nostalgic options, Kerry predicts,” Food Navigator, January 15, 2019.
Michelle Lam, “Bacon with chocolate? How savoury desserts are becoming the next big gourmet trend,” South China Morning Post, June 21, 2018.​