David Cox, VP of Food & Beverage and Corporate Executive Chef for Norms Restaurants, is continually on the hunt for ideas that can offer competitive advantages without compromising the character and familiarity of the diner-style chain’s menu. “I draw inspiration from all over: past, present and future. From Flavor & The Menu and other magazines, conferences, continued education, the internet, other restaurants and chefs, our team at Norms and our customers,” he says. “What is important is recognizing a good idea, not necessarily having to come up with it yourself.”

Today’s back-of-house challenges with the supply chain, the labor pool and rising costs place a premium on good ideas that emphasize versatility, adaptability and labor-saving prep. For example, “Black beans and salsa verde have become a post-pandemic workhorse at Norms,” says Cox. “They lend themselves to all dayparts,” making them a natural as the central ingredient of the Spicy Black Bean Cakes the chef created for Kitchen Collaborative. It’s one of three “good ideas,” along with Ground Pork Banh Mi Sliders and Baked Boursin® Artichoke Dip, that Cox offers as inspiration to other chefs in the industry.

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