The Building Blocks of Changing a Menu - by Executive Chef Jon Gatlin

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Spring has sprung (even though it just dropped into 30 degrees for the third time!) And while we wait for Spring to make its official debut, we are sprucing up a new seasonal menu.

But with a new menu comes an assortment of changes, too: New fun and seasonal products to try, ideas to conquer, techniques to perfect, and concepts to execute. These are all the initial building blocks to start the menu change. It is no small task, and usually takes about 45 days of planning.

Phase 1

The menu change process begins with compiling our lists of seasonal and sustainable products; not just locally, but also regionally and nationwide. We examine the changing harvest across states and start compiling our dream products.

During this time, we also reach out to local farmers to see the plan on growing products and also figure out who is open to consistently growing a specific product we want. We work with a similar process when selecting meats and seafood. Overall, with every menu built, we follow some basic guidelines of seasonality and sustainability to pick those appropriate product choices.

We made our lists, we checked it twice, and now it’s on to Phase 2!

Phase 2

This next part is the fun part for me, which is deciding on dish themes! Here at Oliver Royale, we like to take multicultural comfort foods and put our style and twist on them. We dive into each dish looking at their components and then go even further with understanding why those ingredients and flavors go so well together. Once identifying flavor profiles that are traditionally present, we begin to expand and fine tune them with our individual vision. Once menu items are planned, new ingredients tried and tweaked, and removal and replacement of what didn’t work has taken place, we then begin to architecturally build the dish in a way that flows efficiently with our high-quality standards.

Phase 3

We build and we test all dishes. We tweak, build some more, and test some more all in the name of accuracy, efficiency in the kitchen, and execution.

Phase 4

From there we move to training both the back and front of the house staff on ingredient questions pertaining to pronunciation, sourcing, flavor profile, and preparation. It takes about two weeks for everyone to settle into the comforts of our new menu, explaining the wondrous new dishes to our customers, and executing it on the plate!

And there you have it! The building blocks of changing a menu are thrilling, exciting, and downright satisfying. We hope you love it as much as we do!


Sondra Richardson