The global culinary mashup is nothing new. For as long as people have traveled, they have collected new flavors and recipes from around the world—sometimes combining these flavors in novel ways. Recently, street food has featured its share of mashups, including the now-famous bulgogi taco. By taking a familiar vehicle (the taco) and adding a twist (bulgogi beef), you can introduce diners to new flavors—the simple joy of the Korean-style taco.
We spoke to Chef Chris Vomund of Sysco St. Louis about why the street food mashup trend is growing more popular with sit-down restaurants and how more chefs and operators can get in on the fun.
“To start, our access to information is blowing the doors off of where we were 20 years ago,” says Vomund. “Now you can learn about distant flavors—on YouTube or travel blogs—and immediately source many hard-to-find ingredients through Sysco.
Every chef has an identity, a background, a culinary story to tell.
Chef Chris Vomund
“Every chef has an identity, a background, a culinary story to tell,” says Vomund. Take those memories and play off them when you create your mashups. Tell the story of your heritage through a new kind of taco or burger—or something different, like matzo ball pho with ginger and lemongrass.
Mashup pairings shouldn’t be overly complicated. “The key is finding
harmonious flavor pairings that don’t feel too jarring,” says Vomund. Imagine something like a grilled cheese sandwich with Mexican street corn, he says. “It has the creamy element from the corn and mayo, plus new flavors from the spices. You smash that between some good bread and think, ‘Why haven’t I tried this yet?’”
As for the Soondubu Jjigae Burrito, pictured above, it’s also a natural. Korean pork and tofu stew, which uses Butcher’s Block Pork Butt and Jade Mountain Sushi Rice, takes the place of stewed Mexican pork or chicken. Once again, you are attracting diners with a comforting, familiar food (the burrito) and adding a twist (the stew).