Culinary Trends - Roast, Burn, Char - Presented by Conagra Foodservice | March 2018


What's old is new again. Wood-burning ovens, hearth and open-flame cooking are becoming more visible across restaurant segments. These ancient cooking techniques produce distinct smoky flavors that are resonating with today's patrons, in a big way. Charred and burnt ingredients lend a handcrafted touch to menu items, giving visual and aromatic cues that allude to the complex flavors within a particular dish. And the charring technique isn't limited to just barbecue or meat-heavy preparations. Intentionally blackened vegetables, smoked sugar desserts and burnt citrus cocktails are causing a stir in fine dining and starting to influence the menus of operations across commercial and non-commercial channels. Reinventing popular dishes to include elements of smokiness is a great way to bring this trend to the menu. Think Cobb salad with grilled avocado, chicken tacos with smoked mole sauce or rustic pizza with charred vegetables.

Fire Roasted Tomato ahi tuna sliders with coconut rice pilaf

Give your patrons fiery flavor, with a tropical twist. This grilled ahi tuna sandwich is topped with Angela Mia® Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes and a Rosarita® Fire Roasted Tomato Salsa-avocado mash.


Angela Mia® Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes
Our high-quality tomatoes are gently roasted over an open fire and diced, delivering smoky fresh-from-the-grill Southwestern flavor to your dishes.

Rosarita® Fire Roasted Tomato Salsa
This tasty salsa features vine-ripened tomato and jalapeño, roasted to perfection to create a smooth salsa with appealing smoky notes.

Chef Tips

Adding smoky, complex flavor doesn't mean you have to spend time or labor fire-roasting ingredients back of house. We'll do the work for you! Try using Angela Mia® and Rosarita® products to amplify flavor in dishes you're already serving on the menu, for twists on your patrons' favorites.

Angela Mia® Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes

  • Create savory tomato jam, a signature condiment perfect for hot or cold sandwiches
  • Substitute fire roasted tomatoes in your bruschetta for even more depth of flavor
  • Enhance smoky, charred notes by adding fire roasted tomatoes to grilled chicken pasta
  • Use as a pizza topping to amplify the effect of wood-fire grilling
  • Mix into chili for intense, deep smokiness

Rosarita® Fire Roasted Tomato Salsa

  • Give breakfast dishes "all day" appeal with the addition of fire roasted salsa
  • Boost the flavor of hummus and other spreads/dips as a mix-in
  • Instantly spice up a Bloody Mary with more than just heat
  • Fold into sausage gravy to create a unique twist on a breakfast favorite
  • Brush over focaccia or other breads before baking for a dramatic charred finish

Quick Dish

If you're serving up wood-fired, roasted or charred dishes, let your patrons know! Menu descriptions alluding to these preparation techniques and flavors have shown strong growth recently.

Datassential MenuTrends, U.S. menu penetration growth 2013-2017.


Though charred, smoky and burnt dishes are most commonly found in fine dining, they're growing exponentially in the fast casual segment. Here are some innovative dishes we've recently spotted on menus.

Noodles & Company: Spicy Chipotle Adobo, featuring slow-braised pork or grilled chicken with cavatappi noodles in a smoky adobo sauce, cream, red onion, mushrooms, sour cream, lime and cilantro

California Tortilla: Blackened Fish Street Tacos, with blackened fish, chipotle sour cream, crisp slaw, cilantro and a fresh lime wedge, served on two soft corn tortillas

Au Bon Pain: Roasted Poblano Chicken Stew, with diced white meat chicken, crushed tomatillos, roasted poblanos, jalapeños, white hominy, tomatoes, celery, onions and carrots simmered in a savory chicken broth

Roti: Chicken Roti Sandwich, with char-grilled antibiotic-free chicken in signature spices, choice of toppings and sauces, served on a soft laffa wrap or house-baked whole wheat pita

By the number

"Extreme" cooking techniques are making the biggest impact on today's menus. Compare traditional descriptors such as grilled and seared to the more rustic burnt and charred preparations that have taken the foodservice world by storm!

  • +1% grilled
  • +6% roasted
  • +11% seared
  • +16% wood fired
  • +19% wood smoked
  • +54% burnt
  • +117% charred
  • Datassential MenuTrends, U.S. menu penetration growth 2013-2017.

Firing Up
Menu Innovation

The addition of fire-roasted tomatoes kicks up the flavor, texture and eye appeal of any recipe. Try these recipes featuring Angela Mia® and Rosarita® tomatoes in exciting new applications.

San Fran Fire-Roasted Chicken Polenta

Pan-seared polenta triangles topped with tender chicken in a savory mix of Angela Mia® Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes and Angela Mia® Marinara Sauce, topped with fresh herbs and shaved Parmesan cheese.

Mediterranean Shirred Eggs

Our take on shakshuka, a North African poached egg dish, in a spicy tomato sauce made with Angela Mia® Fire Roasted Tomatoes and Angela Mia® Spaghetti Sauce.

Latin Shrimp Cocktail

Rosarita® Fire Roasted Tomato Salsa adds sizzling flavor in two ways: imparting heat and smokiness to boiled shrimp and as an ingredient in a tomato-citrus dipping sauce.

Fire-Roasted Black Bean Burger

House-made veggie burgers featuring Rosarita® Fire Roasted Tomato Salsa are sure to please! This recipe also showcases Rosarita® in a fire-roasted ketchup topping.

+375% growth of “charred” dishes in fast casual since 2013!

Datassential MenuTrends, U.S. menu penetration growth 2013-2017.

Datassential, TIPS: Charred & Burnt, August 2016.
Eliza Amari, "Modern Menu Hits," Flavor & The Menu, November 8, 2017.
Maeve Webster, "Minding the Menu," Flavor & The Menu, July 1, 2017