Skip navigation

In pursuit of flavor: 5 culinary innovation case studies

From slow bread to fast fries, restaurants are taking creative approaches to these five signature menu items

Now that food and drink are at the center of our culture, there are a lot of colorful, Instagrammable dishes and charismatic chefs that grab a lot of attention. There’s nothing wrong with cocktails colored with butterfly pea flower, or ornately dressed avocado toast, but sometimes they get in the way of the truly groundbreaking things that are happening in the culinary world.

So we’re taking the time to highlight some of the unsung heroes in culinary innovation. 

That includes Chris Cheung of East Wind Snack Shop in Brooklyn, N.Y., who broke with Cantonese tradition to add crunch to the venerable dim sum staple har gow. 

It also includes Bobby Marcotte, who took sausage-making techniques and applied them to his burgers at Hop & Grind in Durham, N.H. 

Sometimes you have to go backward to move forward, so we’re also taking a look at Michael Dolich’s approach to the time-honored tradition, and time-intensive process, of slow-rising sourdough bread at Four Worlds Bakery in Philadelphia. 

On the beverage front, many mixologists are exploring legal ways to get cannabis in their drinks. But Denver bar operator McLain Hedges saw other opportunities in the marijuana world — specifically using the same technology that’s used to extract THC and CBD to capture flavors from other ingredients.

Finally, we also revisit the world of French fries to see how leading independent restaurants and popular chains are creating their best versions of America’s favorite side dish. 

Read on for their creative approaches to five signature menu items.

Contact Bret Thorn at [email protected]

Follow him on Twitter: @foodwriterdiary

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.