The Art of Creating a New Dish at Moxie’s

Executive Chef, Brandon Thordarson, shares the process for creating and developing new menu items for Moxie’s core offering.

Twice a year we review our core menu at Moxie’s, often with the idea that brand new dishes will be added to our menus. Creating a new menu item is one of Chef Brandon’s favourite parts of the job, but it’s a long process, as we need to know that the dish is not only delicious, but that it can be made to perfection in every one of our kitchens across North America.

We have 5 test kitchen locations across Canada that we use when developing new menu items. We do it Moxie’s style – in our own restaurants, with our own knives and equipment, with our own chefs and honest guest feedback.

Get Inspired

Get Inspired!

The farmer’s market is often the first place that Chef Brandon looks for inspiration, as seasonal ingredients can make any dish extra special.

I reflect on my travels and think about what I ate that made me say, ‘Moxie’s has to have these.’ Once I focus on a specific dish, I go out and eat it everywhere I can. I find out how other people are making it, what flavors they’re combining and what techniques they’re employing. If I can, I even find out where people are sourcing their ingredients.
Do the Research

Do the Research

We have over 60 locations across North America, and we choose our suppliers carefully in order to ensure that we can serve a consistent dish in each of our restaurants. However, sourcing ingredients is more than securing a dependable source – it’s finding a supplier that upholds our values. For instance, we only purchase fish from environmentally responsible fisheries, we always use cage-free eggs and free-run chicken, and all of our steaks are grain fed and from North American ranches.

Take it to 'Taste Panel'

Take it to "Taste Panel"

There’s a lot of trial-and-error that goes into creating a new dish, and our kitchen staff often work as informal tasters along the way. When Chef is happy with it, it goes to our taste panel.

Our taste panel is a diverse group with distinct palates that give us feedback on the overall experience: taste, texture, smell, everything! It’s here that we find out if this is a dish you would drive across the city to experience, or if it’s just not working. The big question is, is it memorable?

Execution in our test kitchens

Execution in our test kitchens

Once a dish has passed taste panel, we have five locations that act as test kitchens - Langley, Richmond, Barlow, Yorkdale, and Gloucester. This is where our team gets tangible feedback from real guests. Our local managers and chefs speak to diners to find out what they like (and don’t like) about these new dishes, which can vary due to regional preferences - a hot day in Texas vs. a rainy day on the coast.

This is also when we find out how the dish holds up at other locations. Chef Brandon works alongside the chefs to ensure that the test kitchens stay true to the recipe that’s been created. We quickly find out if it’s something our guests will order, how well it works in a busy kitchen and if the dish fits on our current menu.

In the end, it's up to our guests!

In the end, it's up to our guests!

Ultimately, it’s our chefs and managers that will help to make the final decision, but it’s all based on what our guests want and the type of feedback we’ve received. We make food for the people who visit our restaurants. If it’s not worth braving weather, traffic, or sometimes even a road trip, it’s not going on the menu.

To meet the standard of the Moxie’s menu, a winning dish must be delicious and craveable, premium but affordable, and sophisticated yet manageable. Until we know that a dish can be successfully executed across North America, we won’t commit to it on our menu because we think that the happiness and experience of our guests is worth the process!

The End - Moxie's Blog