Business and Operations
Making Dough with Diane: September-October 2015
Six tips to take advantage of fall
By Diane Chiasson
To celebrate the change in seasons, why not kick off the celebrations with an Autumn Harvest theme? Tied in with the ongoing trend to promote healthier lifestyles and eating habits, the new crop of fall-season vegetables would be a welcome addition to your pizza menu.
According to Infographic in 2015 pepperoni still leads the way as the most popular pizza topping, but onions came in at number 3! More significantly, while most statistics still show less than 10 per cent of Canadians are vegetarian, 20 to 25 per cent of adults in the U.S. report that they eat four or more meatless meals weekly.
The market is there in Canada for creative and innovative pizzas that use the best autumn vegetables. Here are six tips you can try to welcome in the new season.
1. Roast root vegetables
Root vegetables are the stars of autumn’s fresh produce, and when roasted, the sweetness that exudes from the flesh of the vegetables is sublime. You probably already offer a few roasted vegetable items like eggplant and peppers, but why not add root vegetables to your toppings list? Parsnips, rutabagas, zucchini, beets and squash would make a colourful and healthful addition to your menu. Combining these with goat or Parmesan cheese will give you a real winner.
2. Give sprouts a chance
Most people have Brussels sprouts on their least-favourite foods list, but what many people do not realize is that once Brussels sprouts are roasted, they take on a whole new flavour that is much more appealing than that of a bowl of boiled Brussels sprouts. Try pairing roasted, sliced
Brussels sprouts with bacon and cheese on a pizza. A key selling factor for Brussels sprouts is that they are highly nutritious. Plant phytonutrients found in the underutilized vegetable enhance the activity of the body’s natural defense systems to protect against diseases, including cancer. To encourage your customers to try your roasted Brussels sprout pizza, offer free samples. And really, what doesn’t taste good with bacon?
3. Appeal to gourmet palates
Artichokes are now considered a common topping for pizzas, but most usually come marinated in a jar or out of a can. A fresh artichoke tastes entirely different. Because of their smaller size, baby artichokes would be perfect for a pizza topping. Although the preparation of fresh artichokes is somewhat labour-intensive, customers who appreciate good food would be willing to pay a little extra for something special. Combine roasted baby artichokes with capers and anchovies on a pizza, and you’ll have gourmets knocking down your door. For lovers of French onion soup, the combination of oven-roasted onions with a hint of sherry and Swiss cheese would make for an intriguing pizza.
4. Don’t forget autumn fruits
Figs are a wonderful autumn fruit that go hand in hand with blue cheese, so why not create a thin-crust pizza with a light layer of tomato sauce, topped with blue cheese, prosciutto and figs? Grilled pears also complement many cheeses, greens and nuts. Reinvent a popular salad combination by creating a white pizza with grilled pears, Roquefort cheese, toasted walnuts and arugula drizzled with walnut or olive oil. For fun, do a twist on apple pie with cheddar cheese by creating an apple and aged cheddar pizza dusted with cinnamon sugar that can be sold as a dessert.
5. Create a pumpkin pizza
Halloween is such a huge event that we are inundated with recipes for black and orange foods every year. How about offering an orange pizza shaped like a pumpkin – made of pumpkin? A popular pasta dish is ravioli filled with pumpkin, drizzled with sage butter, which can easily be parlayed into a pizza. Roast slices of butternut squash or pumpkin, and layer them on a pizza crust to make it look like a pumpkin. To appeal to kids, for dessert, offer small, sweet-crust pizzas dotted with colourful candies and chocolates. (But tell parents kids can only have the candy pizza if they try the Brussels sprout one first!)
6. Promote, promote, promote
To kick off your Autumn Harvest, throw open your doors, cover your website and Facebook page with autumn colours and lots of photos of your tantalizing pizzas and autumn produce. Send out flyers to your neighbours inviting them to try your new line of pizzas. Offer a coupon with a discount for the purchase of one of your new seasonal pies. Prepare a large cauldron of hot apple cider to get people in the mood.
Offering free samples of your new seasonal pizzas is the only way to get the pepperoni-and-cheese stalwarts to even consider ordering anything else. •
Diane Chiasson, FCSI, president of Chiasson Consultants Inc., has been helping foodservice, hospitality and retail operators increase sales for over 25 years. She is recognized as the industry leader in providing innovative and revenue-increasing foodservice and retail merchandising programs, interior design, branding, menu engineering, marketing and promotional campaigns, and much more. Contact her at 416-926-1338, toll-free at 1-888-926-6655 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.chiassonconsultants.com.