July 2003 Edition
Making Ethnic Easy, with fresh-cut produce

In a culinary climate increasingly smitten with ethnic trends, it's no surprise that cultural cuisine formerly at home in specialty restaurants is now wooing its way into the hearts-and mouths of customers everywhere. But while they vary in origin and flavour, culinary traditions ranging from Mexican to Asian are united by a common passion for fresh fruits and vegetables. And the same adventurous restaurateurs who are adding distinctive ingredients such as bok choy and diced yucca root to their menus are discovering a much easier way to bring them to the table: value added, fresh cut produce.

Fresh-cut produce is gaining popularity as an ideal way to boost yield through reduced food waste and increased shelf life. This labour-saving process also enhances staff safety, while eliminating the excessive time investment required to slice, dice and mix fruits and vegetables in-house. And since fresh-cut processing takes place in highly controlled environments and uses microbial testing to assure quality, it also eliminates food-safety concerns such as cross-contamination.

Ethnic cuisine offers great opportunities to take advantage of the ease of precut fruits and vegetables. For example, combining fresh-cut produce such as broccoli, onions, red and green bell peppers, zucchini, yellow squash, and pimiento produces an elegant Asian stir-fry without the extra work. Or, you can easily add Mexican sizzle to your menu with a custom-made mix of onions, zucchini, and yellow, red and purple peppers - perfect served with fajitas or as a side dish. Fresh-cut produce is also ideal for creative fruit salsas. Try one crafted from a base of diced mangos, papayas and avocados to serve in place of traditional salsa, or as the perfect complement to grilled chicken or fish.

However you serve it - and any way you slice it - fresh-cut produce makes it easy to go ethnic. ยจ

On a per capita basis, Canada has one of the highest consumption rates of fresh vegetables in the world.

In Canada, consumption of fresh vegetables (excluding potatoes) has been increasing steadily and in 1998 stood at just over 69 kg per person, up from 67.4 kg in 1997 and up from 44 kg per person 25 years ago.

Source: Statistics Canada, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Serving up a Sweet Deal

While the North American love affair with exotic flavours and fusions still rules the day, it hasn't managed to dethrone familiar favourites in the fruit department - all of which offer exciting flavours and textures of their own. So if you're looking for surefire favourites to stock your salad bar or serve as garnishes - without the unnecessary waste and food safety concerns associated with cutting your own - look no further that the labour saving convenience of Sysco Imperial Fresh-Cut Fruit Chunks. Available in several varieties including: cantaloupe, pineapple, watermelon, and honeydew, this fresh cut fruit takes the frustration out of fruit preparation by combining just-cut freshness with outstanding quality and value.