In the past years, chevre, manchego and Gorgonzola have reigned supreme as the “it” cheese of upscale restaurants. But an old southern favorite is making its way north and being spotlighted on menus.

We are talking about pimento cheese of course–the Southern staple that until now has seemingly been overlooked and misunderstood. All it takes is mixing shredded cheese with mayo and some diced pimento (okay, there are a few more ingredients, but that’s for the recipe section) and you have yourself a brand new ‘hybrid’ cheese that can be used in a variety of new ways. A unique substitution in many recipes where you find shredded or sliced cheese, this masterpiece is taking the restaurant industry by surprise.

Known as the “pate of the south,” pimento cheese is showing up in all kinds of dishes and adding a classic flavor in some very modern ways. Chefs are even experimenting with using other types of cheese, like gouda, West Creek® White Cheddar, Bacio® cheese or even fontina.

Sandwiches are the most obvious way pimento cheese can be incorporated into a menu–they have been found on the menu at The Masters for years. However, by simply grilling that same sandwich, it is transformed from a grade school classic to a gooey epicurean delight. Burgers are another great way to slip pimento cheese into your repertoire. Try it paired with the standard bacon burger, or take the Southern concoction one step further and top it with a fried green tomato.

Sides and appetizers can also be a great place to inject some pimento cheese. It is an easy addition to a cheese tray or as an accompaniment to fresh bread, but why not try out a Southern take on a Canadian poutine by subbing pimento cheese for the cheese curds? Top off your crispy West Creek fries with gravy and pimento cheese–yum. Or, do a south-of-the-border spin on things by incorporating pickled jalapeños instead of pimentos and adding a dash of chipotle. That could make a mean quesadilla. Looking for an Asian twist? Try fried pimento cheese and bacon wontons. Pimento cheese is incredibly versatile, start experimenting with where you can add it to your menu.

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