No matter the dish, flavor is more important than ever.

Though larger game day parties might be tamped down this fall, there’s no excuse to just phone it in with the regular standby of traditional fare. This season, full-on flavor is the way to ensure a spectacular sports fan spread.

“Maybe it’s the adrenaline rush of game day but bold flavors are a requirement—salty, sweet and spicy,” says Performance Foodservice corporate chef Robert Stegall. “The trick is to balance out these flavors in each dish and in the menu as a whole. Balance goes beyond just flavor – texture and color also come into play.”

For pizza, pepperoni remains wildly popular, and now there are more innovative items that can provide extra flavor. Roma® Cup ‘n’ Char Pepperoni fries itself crispy while filling up with its own fat — offering an even more robust meaty taste. Stegall’s recipe for a surf and turf sandwich hits all the full-flavor notes, elevating a Roma hoagie roll with sliced Philly beef, Bay Winds® shrimp and Magellan® Cajun seasoning. “The highlight of this dish is the Piancone roasted red pepper dressing, which has a hint of horseradish that plays great against both the shrimp and the beef,” Stegall says.

Not only does punching up flavor profiles make for more interesting game day grazing, it’s more fun for the cook. Seasonings always play a part, of course, but providing multiple dipping sauces is a surefire way to provide variety. According to Performance Foodservice corporate chef Chris Desens, “The creativity aspect comes into play because we offer an array of sauces with different variations of application. People want bites of flavors with multiple options.” Wings, for example, can be cooled down with West Creek® Buttermilk Ranch or sweet chili lime mayo (Asian Pride® sweet chili sauce with lime and mayonnaise added).

Meanwhile, the inspiration for Desens’ umami-laden bacon-wrapped potstickers was to create something similar to a bacon-wrapped andouille. “The bacon balances the vegetables in the potstickers, the vegetables keep their integrity and the sauce accents,” he explains.

The flexibility of a comprehensive portfolio of brands and products makes game day menu planning exciting. “There's opportunity with a variety of products,” Desens says. “They provide great quality, performance, value, and consistency. You know what you're getting every time and you can mix and match to create that different flavor profile for sports fans and your customers.”

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