Creativity can help operators stand out in a crowded scene.

With the weather warming up and Covid-19 dining restrictions loosening, chefs and operators are heading into what could be a record season of lazy weekends filled with French toast and mimosas. The high demand by guests for a return to normalcy—and a little indulgence—means that a creative edge is as important as ever.

“Brunch is the gathering of friends and family who are looking to experience their end of the week on a high note with awesome food and drink,” says Performance Foodservice corporate chef Anthony Palermo. “Design your menu to have enough options to please different appetites.”

Offering diners the best of both worlds, diverse menus allow chefs the opportunity to focus on sweet and savory menu preferences. Items like a Garden Frittata or a Steak & Egg Benedict appeal to guests who want something simple and light, or decadent and satiating. But to gain that competitive edge that will get you on a savvy diner’s regular weekend rotation, it pays to also be a little adventurous.

“Creative and delicious food and beverages are a perfect start, but presentation—the WOW factor—plays a huge role,” says Performance Foodservice corporate chef Christine Allhoff. Items with great visual appeal play directly into social media obsessions. “Let your customers advertise for you when they post their gorgeous brunch on Instagram and Facebook,” she advises.

Tasty twists on classic items can become the next Sunday staple. Chef Anthony’s Candied Bacon Deviled Egg recipe plays off the traditional dynamic duo of bacon and eggs, but takes it to another level by packing bacon slices in sugar before cooking. The result is a dish that’s savory and sweet, yet also textural between the fluffy egg yolks and crunchy candied bacon bits. It’s also a super addictive starter, with the added benefit of increasing check averages across the board.

Another tactic in creating an engaging menu is offering dishes that skew a little non-traditional. Chef Christine prepares lamb with a sweet and tangy glaze that lends itself perfectly to brunch. Not only are her Lamb Loin Chops tender, juicy, and quick cooking for a fast-paced service, but they also allow her to get creative with one of her favorite proteins. “People sometimes shy away from lamb,” she says, “but the Piancone Epicureo® chops are from Colorado and tend to be mellower in flavor. Customers are willing to try something out of the ordinary at brunch.”

Finally, don’t forget to extend creativity to the beverage program, which, let’s face it, is sometimes what gets weekend warriors out of bed to begin with. Chef Anthony always recommends starting off by pairing sweet beverages with savory brunch items. A bourbon sweet tea, for example, will pair beautifully with a spicy jalapeño corn fritter. Chef Christine thinks outside the box with over-the-top cocktails that are often customizable, such as seasonal fruit margaritas, custom craft brew beer-mosas, batched and bottled rum punches and of course, a fully loaded Bloody Mary. “Complete with sliced beef tenderloin, grilled shrimp, and a fried pickle spear, it’s 100% brunch indulgence!”

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