MenuMasters awards recognize culinary innovation

MenuMasters awards recognize culinary innovation

CHICAGO —The Illinois State Routing Bureau helped Pizza Hut navigate a 70,000-pound, 13-foot-wide and 75-foot-long truck through the city so the restaurant chain could serve one of the winning dishes at this year’s MenuMasters awards party here.

It took two days for Pizza Hut to drive its test kitchen on wheels from the chain’s headquarters in Dallas to The Drake hotel in Chicago, which played host to this year’s MenuMasters awards. Produced by Nation’s Restaurant News and sponsored by Ventura Foods LLC, MenuMasters celebrates extraordinary research and development achievements in menu innovation, quality and success. —The Illinois State Routing Bureau helped Pizza Hut navigate a 70,000-pound, 13-foot-wide and 75-foot-long truck through the city so the restaurant chain could serve one of the winning dishes at this year’s MenuMasters awards party here.

Pizza Hut’s newest Tuscani pastas, along with the other 2009 MenuMasters winners, were celebrated last month during the National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Hotel-Motel Show. —The Illinois State Routing Bureau helped Pizza Hut navigate a 70,000-pound, 13-foot-wide and 75-foot-long truck through the city so the restaurant chain could serve one of the winning dishes at this year’s MenuMasters awards party here.

“We are honoring the very best,” said Tom Larranaga, NRN publisher, to an audience of over 350 attendees. “This year’s winners truly raised the bar. The food has been over the top tonight.” —The Illinois State Routing Bureau helped Pizza Hut navigate a 70,000-pound, 13-foot-wide and 75-foot-long truck through the city so the restaurant chain could serve one of the winning dishes at this year’s MenuMasters awards party here.

Pizza Hut [3]’s pastas won the MenuMasters menu revamp award. Other winners included: Denny’s [4] Plain White Shake for best limited-time offer, Culver’s Butter Burgers and Frozen Custard [5]’s BBQ Brisket Sandwich for best new menu item rollout, Chick-fil-A [6]’s Chargrilled & Fruit Salad for best menu-line extension and Qdoba Mexican Grill [7]’s line of Smart Meals, which includes “naked” tacos and burritos, won in the healthful innovation category. The MenuMasters program’s newest award for Menu Trendsetter went to Big Bowl Fresh Chinese and Thai for its local buying practices, pouring of Fair Trade coffee and green initiatives. MenuMasters named David Burke its Innovator, and this year’s Hall of Fame inductee was Wolfgang Puck. —The Illinois State Routing Bureau helped Pizza Hut navigate a 70,000-pound, 13-foot-wide and 75-foot-long truck through the city so the restaurant chain could serve one of the winning dishes at this year’s MenuMasters awards party here.

“If you come to this event and you can’t get fired up, then you need to change careers,” said Kevin Bechtel, an attendee of the night’s festivities and vice president of research and development at Shari’s, a more than 100-unit family-dining chain. “I get all emotional.” —The Illinois State Routing Bureau helped Pizza Hut navigate a 70,000-pound, 13-foot-wide and 75-foot-long truck through the city so the restaurant chain could serve one of the winning dishes at this year’s MenuMasters awards party here.

This year’s winners brought some emotion to the award ceremony as well. —The Illinois State Routing Bureau helped Pizza Hut navigate a 70,000-pound, 13-foot-wide and 75-foot-long truck through the city so the restaurant chain could serve one of the winning dishes at this year’s MenuMasters awards party here.

“To share the stage with all of you is an amazing honor,” said Andy Dismore, who accepted the award for Denny’s and is the chain’s senior director of product innovation. —The Illinois State Routing Bureau helped Pizza Hut navigate a 70,000-pound, 13-foot-wide and 75-foot-long truck through the city so the restaurant chain could serve one of the winning dishes at this year’s MenuMasters awards party here.

Chick-fil-A’s vice president of brand development, Woody Faulk, thanked his operators and culinary team for the success of their salad, which features chicken breast on a blend of romaine, iceberg and shredded red cabbage, with granola, carrots, Monterey Jack, cheddar cheese, strawberry slices, grapes, apple pieces and Mandarin orange segments. —The Illinois State Routing Bureau helped Pizza Hut navigate a 70,000-pound, 13-foot-wide and 75-foot-long truck through the city so the restaurant chain could serve one of the winning dishes at this year’s MenuMasters awards party here.

Culver’s director of research and development, Jim Doak, cited the contributions of his colleagues as well. —The Illinois State Routing Bureau helped Pizza Hut navigate a 70,000-pound, 13-foot-wide and 75-foot-long truck through the city so the restaurant chain could serve one of the winning dishes at this year’s MenuMasters awards party here.

“Without our owner Craig Culver and operations, [the BBQ Brisket Sandwich] would just be an idea on paper,” said Jim Doak, director of research and menu development for Culver’s. —The Illinois State Routing Bureau helped Pizza Hut navigate a 70,000-pound, 13-foot-wide and 75-foot-long truck through the city so the restaurant chain could serve one of the winning dishes at this year’s MenuMasters awards party here.

Besides the quality assurance, operations and R&D teams, Ted Stoner, Qdoba’s director of strategic product development, also thanked his restaurants’ guests for their support. —The Illinois State Routing Bureau helped Pizza Hut navigate a 70,000-pound, 13-foot-wide and 75-foot-long truck through the city so the restaurant chain could serve one of the winning dishes at this year’s MenuMasters awards party here.

At Pizza Hut, Kelly Buckley, the chain’s chief food innovation officer, discussed how the culinary team worked tirelessly for a year to develop the pastas and hinted at continued menu development. —The Illinois State Routing Bureau helped Pizza Hut navigate a 70,000-pound, 13-foot-wide and 75-foot-long truck through the city so the restaurant chain could serve one of the winning dishes at this year’s MenuMasters awards party here.

“There is much more to come,” she said. —The Illinois State Routing Bureau helped Pizza Hut navigate a 70,000-pound, 13-foot-wide and 75-foot-long truck through the city so the restaurant chain could serve one of the winning dishes at this year’s MenuMasters awards party here.

Jim Goggin, senior vice president of foodservice groups at Ventura Foods, said he appreciates the event each year. —The Illinois State Routing Bureau helped Pizza Hut navigate a 70,000-pound, 13-foot-wide and 75-foot-long truck through the city so the restaurant chain could serve one of the winning dishes at this year’s MenuMasters awards party here.

“It is remarkable to see this move forward,” he said. —The Illinois State Routing Bureau helped Pizza Hut navigate a 70,000-pound, 13-foot-wide and 75-foot-long truck through the city so the restaurant chain could serve one of the winning dishes at this year’s MenuMasters awards party here.