Prepared Foods talks flatbread trends with Chef Jake Brach, manager of culinary learning and development for Rich’s Foodservice. Rich Products Corp., Buffalo, N.Y., supplies foodservice, in-store and retail markets with non-dairy toppings, icings, cakes and desserts; pizza, bakery products; breads and rolls; shrimp and seafood; appetizers and snacks; BBQ; meatballs and pasta.
Prepared Foods: Can you think of a recent dining experience when a flatbread impressed you?
Jake Brach: I recently went to Italy to focus on pizza and I was able to taste and see a variety of pizzas and flatbreads. One thing that impressed me was the freshness and simplicity of the ingredients. Flatbreads give the chef a great opportunity to blend flavors and textures. Chefs also can showcase freshness—not only the bread—but also the toppings, sauces, and seasonings. These can either complement, or contrast each other to create a finished dish that begs the diner to take another bite.
PF: How have flatbreads changed over five years?
Brach: Flatbread offerings have changed as people become more familiar with the ethnic cuisines that have gained in popularity, and have become more widely available.
A great example would be the exposure pita bread received through the popularity of Greek cuisine. Today Nann, Roti, and Laffa are gaining in popularity as people experience and enjoy the food from the Middle East, the Mediterranean, and India.
PF: Can you tell us more about the consumer’s ethnic eating experience?
Brach: As people travel and venture out to expand their knowledge of food, they often find themselves discovering these various ethnic cuisines and the flatbreads that accompany them. I think that as people learn about a certain ethnic cuisine, they are discovering that the bread is lightly flavorful and nice accompaniment to the food—and an integral part of the whole dining experience.
PF: What’s been a new flatbread product at Rich’s?
Brach: One of our latest offerings, our Laffa Bread, is thicker, and chewier than pita, and is great for scooping up hummus, or wrapping up a kabob.
Equally as good is our Rich’s 12”x 5” Rustic Oval Flatbread, which could be compared to a thinner version of focaccia bread. For chefs and operators, this is a flatbread with great texture, flavor and is versatile enough to be used as an appetizer. It also could be included in a bread basket or even be used for making panini sandwiches. I think of it as versatility at its finest.
PF: How might flatbread trends or tastes change in 2018?
Brach: Be on the lookout for different, unique toppings on flatbread pizzas. Through our research at Rich’s, we’re seeing fruits starting to pop up—such as mangos, apples, and pears. Different meats like lamb, and chorizo; and sauces, such as yogurt and chimichurri, also are starting to gain popularity.
Different globally-inspired flatbreads are beginning to trend. As I mentioned, we may see more Indian flatbreads like Roti and Paratha. Ancient grains also are emerging as a flatbread trend.
Originally appeared in the November, 2017 issue of Prepared Foods as First Person.