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The Power List
Liz Matthews is the global chief food innovation officer at Taco Bell.

Taco Bell’s global chief food innovation officer Liz Matthews develops inventive menu items

Meet the technology innovators on Nation's Restaurant News' 2020 Power List

When Taco Bell shifted its brand image from a “food as fuel” chain to a “food as experience” brand in 2012, that upped the ante for Liz Matthews and her team. As global chief food innovation officer at the Irvine, Calif.-based chain, she is responsible for delivering inventive menu items, such 2018’s Nacho Fries, that surprise and delight fans.

Year after year, Matthews’ team delivers over-the-top Mexican-inspired items such as Doritos Locos Tacos, Quesalupa, Naked Chicken Chalupa, Grilled Stuft Burrito and last year’s Toasted Cheddar Chalupa.

powerlist_banner_20202_3.jpgSometimes her team’s most clever moves are reinvention. Take the award-winning Nacho Fries, which took years to develop. Nacho Fries broke new product records and won NRN’s coveted MenuMasters award in 2019 for Best New Item.

When fries are on the menu, consumers say they’re more likely to return to Taco Bell, according to Datassential. Building on the fandom, Matthews extended the pipeline of Nacho Fries last year with the introduction of Steak Rattlesnake Fries and Steak Reaper Ranch Fries. That same Reaper Ranch sauce can also be found on one of three new $1 Double Stacked Tacos, a new LTO on the 2020 value menu.   

With Matthews heading the Taco Bell test kitchen, fans can always expect the unexpected.

Contact Nancy Luna at [email protected] 

Follow her on Twitter: @fastfoodmaven

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