138 episodes

Menu Talk, formally Menu Feed, is a podcast hosted by Pat Cobe of Restaurant Business and Bret Thorn with Nation’s Restaurant News.

We are veteran reporters on the menu beat and eager to bring you inspiring conversations about what’s happening in restaurant kitchens, including weekly interviews with chefs, operators and food professionals.

Menu Talk Winsight Podcast Network

    • Arts
    • 5.0 • 3 Ratings

Menu Talk, formally Menu Feed, is a podcast hosted by Pat Cobe of Restaurant Business and Bret Thorn with Nation’s Restaurant News.

We are veteran reporters on the menu beat and eager to bring you inspiring conversations about what’s happening in restaurant kitchens, including weekly interviews with chefs, operators and food professionals.

    An insiders' look at the 2024 MenuMasters Awards

    An insiders' look at the 2024 MenuMasters Awards

    Menu editors Pat Cobe and Bret Thorn were among the guests who celebrated the winners of the 2024 MenuMasters awards on Saturday. We were in the thick of the event at Morgan Manufacturing in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood, sampling the chef-prepared food at the various stations and talking to the eight chefs honored this year.

    Chef and restaurateur Nancy Silverton was inducted into the MenuMasters Hall of Fame, and we talk on the podcast about her accomplishments as a chef and restaurateur. She was particularly touched to receive an award from the industry, and commented on how these awards celebrate the diversity of restaurants represented at the ceremony. Other winners included fast casuals Cava and Tender Greens, quick-service players Del Taco and McDonald’s and casual-dining concept Fogo de Chao.

    Indian entrepreneur Meherwan Irani and digital cooking guru Samuel “Sam the Cooking Guy” Zien were also honored, further reflecting that diversity.

    We also dish on the wild MenuMasters “after party,” where special effects, music, dancing and more food and drinks kept guests hopping until almost midnight.

    MenuMasters took place during the National Restaurant Show, so we roamed the exhibits and chatted about our favorite tastes, sips and happenings.

    • 11 min
    Korean fried chicken goes glam, Rocco DiSpirito's star power and Mooyah's from-scratch mentality

    Korean fried chicken goes glam, Rocco DiSpirito's star power and Mooyah's from-scratch mentality

    This week on Menu Talk, Restaurant Business Senior Menu Editor Pat Cobe and Bret Thorn, senior food and beverage editor of Nation’s Restaurant News, share their take on some recent happenings in the world of food, drink and restaurants.

    Pat recently visited Coqodaq, a classy NYC Korean fried chicken restaurant with a casual vibe run by the owners of upscale steakhouse Cote.

    Both Bret and Pat attended an event for Rocco DiSpirito, the James Beard Award-winning chef and TV celeb who just released a new cookbook called “Everyday Delicious.” Although DiSpirito isn’t currently affiliated with a restaurant, he earned acclaim as the hot and talented young chef helming the kitchen at Union Pacific.

    And we played clips from Pat’s podcast with Doug Willmarth, president of Mooyah Burgers, Fries and Shakes, the 72-unit better burger chain. Willmarth talked about how Mooyah differentiates itself in the crowded fast-casual burger segment with its laser focus on quality ingredients cooked from scratch.

    Menu Talk is a collaboration between Restaurant Business Senior Menu Editor Pat Cobe and Bret Thorn, senior food & beverage editor of Nation’s Restaurant News and Restaurant Hospitality. You can subscribe to it wherever you listen to podcasts.

    • 19 min
    High-end apartment pop-up dinners, Dan Barber breeds flavor into squash, and how Muchacho infuses salsas with unique personalities

    High-end apartment pop-up dinners, Dan Barber breeds flavor into squash, and how Muchacho infuses salsas with unique personalities

    This week on Menu Talk, Restaurant Business Senior Menu Editor Pat Cobe and Bret Thorn, senior food and beverage editor of Nation’s Restaurant News, share their take on some recent happenings in the world of food and drink.

    Bret is settling into his new Brooklyn digs, discovering the vast assortment of pickled and smoked fish available in his new neighborhood. And buckwheat—that’s the grain of choice in the shops that surround his apartment.

    Pat was recently a guest at a “Nikkei Twist” dinner in which private chef Will Ono created a five-course Colombian-Japanese menu. Off-duty private chefs, restaurant sous chefs, line cooks and other culinary pros develop the menus and cook at these events. There’s also a sommelier at the dinners to pair wines. It’s a new kind of dining platform that’s becoming a win-win for both chefs and consumers.



    We listened to clips from Bret’s podcast with Joe Schaeffer, VP of Culinary for Atlanta-based Electric Hospitality, about Muchacho, the group’s Southern California-inspired taqueria. Schaeffer created six unique fresh salsas using a variety of chilies, some raw, some roasted or simmered, to infuse each with complex flavor.

    • 25 min
    Lettuce Entertain You shares new initiatives, Eggs Up Grill makes menu moves, and the dish on pizza styles and Brooklyn food

    Lettuce Entertain You shares new initiatives, Eggs Up Grill makes menu moves, and the dish on pizza styles and Brooklyn food

    This week on Menu Talk, Restaurant Business Senior Menu Editor Pat Cobe and Bret Thorn, Senior Food and Beverage Editor of Nation’s Restaurant News, share their take on some recent happenings in the world of food and drink.

    Bret recently moved from one Brooklyn neighborhood to another, and the culinary scene is very different. He’s surrounded by Turkish food and already tried a Turkish breakfast specialty that’s currently trending on TikTok but has been served in mom-and-pop restaurants forever.

    Pat shares a virtual taste of three memorable pizzas she shared with colleagues at Pizzeria Bianco while in Phoenix, which sparks a lively discussion of pizza styles.

    We also comment on clips from podcasts recorded at the recent Restaurant Leadership Conference. Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises’ Christopher LaBarbera, and Ricky Richardson, CEO of breakfast-lunch chain Eggs Up Grill. They mention sustainability initiatives, equipment upgrades , along with new programs and menu items

    Menu Talk is a collaboration between Restaurant Business Senior Menu Editor Pat Cobe and Bret Thorn, senior food & beverage editor of Nation’s Restaurant News and Restaurant Hospitality. You can subscribe to it wherever you listen to podcasts.

    • 21 min
    Menu trends at RLC, how a St. Louis chef is elevating sushi, and hot sauces and LTOs in the spotlight

    Menu trends at RLC, how a St. Louis chef is elevating sushi, and hot sauces and LTOs in the spotlight

    This week on Menu Talk, Restaurant Business Senior Menu Editor Pat Cobe and Bret Thorn, senior food and beverage editor of Nation’s Restaurant News, share their take on some recent happenings in the world of food and drink.

    • 25 min
    An inside look at the James Beard Awards, McAlister's menu expansion and creamsicle drinks

    An inside look at the James Beard Awards, McAlister's menu expansion and creamsicle drinks

    This week on Menu Talk, Restaurant Business Senior Menu Editor Pat Cobe and Bret Thorn, senior food and beverage editor of Nation’s Restaurant News, share their take on some recent hot topics.

    The James Beard Foundation announced the finalists in the restaurant and chef categories, naming nominees in 22 categories, including both national regional honorees. While culinary skill and operational excellence still play into the awards, a positive work culture and community involvement are now key criteria for a nomination. And, since the pandemic, the foundation completely overhauled the program to bring more diversity into the awards selection process, including broader geographic representation. 

    Pat and Bret weigh in on the revised criteria and discuss the cachet the James Beard Awards hold for the winners.

    Mike Freeman, CEO of McAlister’s Deli, joins the podcast to share the brand’s menu evolution. It started with breakfast catering, launched last year when the fast casual was under the former Focus Brands banner.

    “There’s been lots of attention placed on our catering innovation, expanding our reach from the beginning of the day to the end of the day.” Snacks, desserts, and beverages also got a refresh, and a new “semi-homemade” category provides takeout options.

    Speaking of beverages, new ones keep flowing out of the pipeline. Lately, we noticed orange creamsicle drinks on several menus. The nostalgic flavor taps into childhood summers. With summer fast approaching, we will probably see more of these retro frozen treats showing up on beverage menus.

    • 27 min

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