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Culinary all-stars to shine at MenuMasters

Culinary all-stars to shine at MenuMasters

The A-list of the foodservice world will converge on The Drake Hotel this Saturday for Nation’s Restaurant News’ annual MenuMasters Awards, celebrating culinary excellence across the country.

Chain restaurant executives and corporate chefs will mingle with award winners ranging from Panera chief concept officer Scott Davis to Top Chef head judge Tom Colicchio.

Colicchio is being inducted into the MenuMasters Hall of Fame, in part for blurring the lines between fine dining and the rest of the food world with his fast-fine sandwich chain, ’Wichcraft.

“It’s kind of neat, because obviously for years I’ve been associated with fine dining, and this award I think recognizes my ’Wichcraft work, which is a nice change of pace, and it’s nice to be recognized for that as well,” he said.

Guests will be able to pick up sparkling wine at Colicchio’s station and then enjoy food from other winners

Those winners include Old Chicago, which won for best menu revamp; Panda Express, whose honey walnut shrimp was named best new menu item; Popeyes, which picked up the best limited-time offer award for its Wicked Chicken; Shari’s Restaurant & Pies, whose Fresh Blackberry Season promotion last summer earned it the award for best line extension; Subway, which introduced breakfast and won the best healthful innovation award for it; and University of Massachusetts Dining, which was named menu trendsetter for its health initiative called “Be Smart. Eat Smart. Live Smart.”

Attendees will presented with a work of art created especially for the event. This year’s limited-edition print was created by contemporary French artist Gerard Puvis, who is famous for crafting figures out of the foil from French Grand Cru wine bottles.

Kevin Bechtel, Shari’s senior vice president for research & development, has been attending the MenuMasters party for the past decade.

“Every time I walk out of MenuMasters, I say to myself, if you can’t be proud of what you do in this industry after attending that event, you shouldn’t be doing it, and you can’t imagine how happy I am to be there this year,” he said. “I’m so honored to have our team recognized.”

Guests who visit his station will be treated with the chain’s award-winning blackberry cobbler, blackberry cream cheese pie and a blackberry cobbler pie milkshake.

Contact Bret Thorn at [email protected]
Follow him on Twitter: @foodwriterdiary

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