Bring Your Menu Back to Basics

Building Your Bridge to Success by Going Back to Basics

Today’s diners are looking for comfort now more than ever. What better place to find comfort than by going back to basics and serving up the treasured memories of a home cooked meal? It’s exactly why one of the biggest trends in 2023 is chefs and operators who are taking their menu back to the basics with comfort foods that feed both the body and the soul.

Hear from our comfort food experts:


Creating a Connection through Comfort Food  

Emotions are some of the most powerful selling tools out there, and if you can introduce a customer to a dish that reminds them of pleasant memory, chances are they’ll remember your dish for years to come.  The comfort food experts at Affinity Group have the inside scoop on all the ways you can connect with your customers by going back to the basics and cooking straight from the heart.

What’s Considered Comfort Food? 

The key to creating great comfort food is that it must provide a nostalgic value to a particular person.  Nostalgia is different for everyone, so how is it possible to create comfort food that everyone loves?  The answer all lies in the geographical area your customers come from. Comfort food will vary quite a bit from region to region, and it’s important to think about the location you are catering to. For example, biscuits and gravy might be a comfort food for the south, that might not necessarily be true for the coast.

The Comfort Food Common Denominator 

One thing that many comfort foods have in common is that they are energy-dense foods. These could be high-calorie, high fat, salty or sugary foods. Think, for example, macaroni and cheese, French fries, chicken noodle soup, mashed potatoes, and pot roast!

Get Creative with Your Comfort Foods

Just because it’s a comfort food dish, doesn’t mean you should shy away from creativity. If your recipe’s core has a hearty nostalgic feel, chances are it’s going to appeal to your customer. But don’t be afraid to mix things up by adding your own unique twist to your dishes. Comfort food is open for an array of interpretations and can easily be given a makeover if you’re not afraid to get a little creative in the kitchen. For instance, just by adding an unexpected ingredient like peaches to a standard mac and cheese you can easily upgrade a comfort classic into a dish that’s both nostalgic and new at the same time.

Creative Comfort Food Conversation Starters:

Apple Crisp

When we think of the most comforting of American desserts, any kind of baked apple dish is definitely at the top on the list. Its warm hearty feeling gives instant flashbacks to grandmother’s kitchen. When you add in a little old-fashioned oats and top it with a little vanilla ice cream, it will take your guests straight back to their childhood.


Apple Crisp with Ice Cream Recipe
Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken pot pie is one of the most definitive dishes that define our memories of our childhood diets. Practically every American child has memories of enjoying it during a weeknight dinner. This delicious new take on a comfort classic turns up the heat by adding cream of jalapeño soup to create a slight spice that’s extra nice.


Chicken Jalapeno Pot Pie Recipe
Osso Bucco over Mashed Potatoes

Osso buco is an Italian comfort classic that represents all the rustic goodness that Italy has to offer. Rich and tender, the meat instantly falls apart as soon as you slide your fork into it. Placed on a bed of Yukon Gold mashed potatoes and topped with a little jardiniere, every bite of this familiar favorite is meant to melt in your guests’ mouths.


Pork Osso Bucco in Rosemary Orange Espanole Recpie

Deviled Eggs

Deviled eggs are always a delightfully familiar favorite, and deviled eggs with LOBSTER are the perfect pairing of decadence and comfort. Loaded with lobster and served on a toasted crostini, these deviled eggs are a great way to give this comfort food classic an upgrade.


Lobster Roll Deviled Eggs Recipe
Tater Tots

There’s always a lot to like about tater tots as it is the perfect comfort food palette for getting creative in the kitchen. Featuring shredded beef brisket and ooey gooey cheddar jack cheese, it’s the perfect dish to keep in your customers comfort zone. Serve with a hearty soup for the ultimate nostalgic feeling.


Loaded Cheddar Brisket Tots Recipe
Garlic Noodle with Crab

Garlic noodles with roasted crab is a Vietnamese comfort classic that has become a familiar favorite on both menus and homes across the California Bay Area. The sweetness of the crab pairs perfectly with the garlicky goodness of the noodle’s making this delicious dish extremely easy to fall in love with.


Garlic Crab Noodles Recipe

When you’re ready to get back to basics and put comfort food creativity at the forefront of your menu, keep in mind that Affinity Group is here to help you out every step of the way. We’ve got the foodservice knowhow you need to drive results for your business. Our insights, solutions, and inspiration are always here to help you continue building Your Bridge to Success.

For more menu inspo, check out our 2023 LTO Promo Calendar to help you boost consumer appeal throughout the year.