TGI Friday's Menu items

T.G.I. Friday’s Chip Dip Trio includes warm tostada strips served with white cheddar queso and two other savory dips.

Restaurant operators keep things fresh by revamping their menus and developing new dishes. The dairy foods industry has benefited big time. Cheese, ice cream, sour cream and other dairy foods are appearing throughout these new menus. They are incorporated into appetizers, main and side dishes, desserts and beverages.

For example, new dishes from T.G.I. Friday’sinclude pretzels with beer cheese dipping sauce, tomato Mozzarella salad and spicy beef queso with white Cheddar. Friday’s, based in Carrollton, Texas, operates more than 900 restaurants in 60 some countries.

“With more shareable appetizer options, we’re making it easier than ever for our guests to come in, put down the issues of the day and celebrate with friends,” said Ricky Richardson, chief operating officer at T.G.I. Friday’s.

Fast-food operator Wendy’s, which has 6,500 restaurants worldwide, came out with three dishes (known as Signature Sides) that include dairy foods. The macaroni and cheese is made with white Vermont Cheddar cheese. Sweet potatoes are topped with a buttery cinnamon spread, and chili cheese fries are smothered in a sauce made with Cheddar cheese and milk.

“Consumers want new foods with exciting flavors and satisfying tastes,” said Gerard Lewis, Wendy’s senior vice president of product innovation at the Columbus, Ohio-based chain. “Our new side items have high integrity ingredients like cavatappi spiral noodles, Cheddar cheese and freshly baked sweet potatoes with buttery cinnamon topping,” he said in a statement.

Travelers passing through the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport will find bacon-wrapped Tater Tots in a blue cheese béchamel sauce and a Parmesan-crusted walleye BLT sandwich. A children’s menu offers slow-baked creamy macaroni and cheese, and a dish called Spilled Cheese (grilled cheese served with Spam nuggets). The foods are on the menu of Hot Dish, operated by SSP America, Lansdowne, Va.

Chefs at Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants participated in the company’s “Sugar & Spice” program that paired savory confections with untraditional flavors. For example, Pastry Chef Francis Ang of Fifth Floor in San Francisco held a demonstration called Opposites Attract at which he prepared black olive madeleines served with saffron ice cream.  Executive Chef Derek Simcik of Atwood Cafe, Chicago, served a “Fig Newton” ice cream sandwich made with black garlic. The programs were part of the hotelier’s “Cooking Down the House” sweepstakes, which included a four-course dinner cooked in the winner’s home by a Kimpton chef. Kimpton operates more than 50 hotels and restaurants in 23 cities.

  Dairy on the menu

  • Tomato Mozzarella Salad at T.G.I. Friday’s
  • Parmesan-crusted walleye BLT at Hot Dish
  • Macaroni and cheese made with white Vermont Cheddar cheese at Wendy’s
  • Oreo Cookies ‘N Cream Waffles at Outback Steakhouse