At NYC’s Al Coro, chef and co-owner Melissa Rodriguez is looking to keep the Italian tasting menu fresh by changing it out every six weeks, basing on a different region of Italy. The purpose of this is not only to highlight the regional cuisines of Italy, but also to invite people back.
“There’s definitely two trains of thought,” says Rodriguez. “People go back to restaurants for specific things and specific dishes, and that’s great. And then people don’t go back to restaurants because nothing changes; it’s the same thing, and they’re just not interested in having the same thing over and over again.”
However, there are challenges presented with constantly putting out a new menu. For example, chefs must learn new techniques and how to get dishes ready for service quickly, as Mindy Ling did recently with a fluke dish.
“We changed the menu on Tuesday, so this is my third day breaking down the fluke,” Ling says. “I’ve worked with it as a crudo, but not breaking it down in the technique and the way we are cooking it. Change is good and challenging, it’s exciting to see something different every couple months.”
But the biggest challenge of consistently putting out new menus, according to Rodriguez, is sourcing the ingredients.
“Availability is probably always the biggest challenge, but it’s just a bigger challenge because it is a much shorter window of time,” says Rodriguez. “You want to find products that feel right for the menu, and you also want to find things that are interesting and delicious and beautifully made.”
Despite these challenges, the chefs at Al Coro are able to consistently serve new dishes and menus to their patrons. Watch the full video to see how they prepared dishes for a menu based on the Adriatic Coast.