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NRN selects 2012 MenuMasters Award winners

Chicago- Neither a sour economy nor consumer reluctance to dine out dampened the creative capacity of American restaurant operators in 2012. Over the past year, seven chains in particular deployed food innovations that Nation's Restaurant News will recognize as the industry's best during its annual MenuMasters awards celebration on May 21 at the Drake Hotel in Chicago. The event, sponsored by Ventura Foods LLC, also will honor restaurant legend Jon Luther, executive chairman at Dunkin' Brands, with an induction into the MenuMasters prestigious Hall of Fame.

Jim Goggin, vice president of food service groups for Ventura Foods, said the company is pleased to sponsor this tribute to menu creativity and foodservice excellence.

"Each year the restaurant industry outdoes itself by serving an ever growing crop of outstanding MenuMaster candidates,” said Nation’s Restaurant News’ executive food editor, Pamela Parseghian. “The winners were selected for their success with guests by offering affordable, out-of-the-ordinary foods that are often healthful and delicious."

The Honorees for 2018 are:

Best Menu/Line Extension: Wendy’s - The W cheeseburger, a mid-priced sandwich that fills the price-point between its 99-cent Everyday Value Menu burger and the premium Dave’s Hot ‘N Juicy Cheeseburger continues their menu evolution, as we offer even more mouthwatering choices bursting with flavor that suit the tastes and budgets of consumers.
Best Menu Revamp: Buffalo Wild Wings - Buffalo Wild Wings has launched a redesigned menu that encourages guests to mix and match food selections with the chain’s signature sauces. The new menu also features 10 new items, several of which have been developed for sharing and catering to groups.
Best New Menu Item: Sonic - Sonic’s Premium Beef Hot Dog delivered on trend flavor with a Sonic "known for" extension comfort classic/street food. Varieties included Chicago, N.Y. Style, All-American and Chili Cheese Coney Dogs. Sonic’s Premium Beef Hot Dogs are a great value and continue to sell across multiple day parts.
Best Limited-Time-Offer: Quaker Steak & Lube - The Shake, Wrap & Roll! program tied in food and cocktails. The program featured two wraps, two rolls and five Bar Jar cocktails shaken tableside! This “Keep The Glass” program allowed guests to take the logo’ed Bar Jars with them!
Menu Trendsetter: Mama Fu's - The Banh mi Vietnamese Street Sandwich began as a test in one of Mama Fu's restaurants and was eventually introduced to all nine corporate locations. Customers can choose Chicken, Beef or Shrimp on a French baguette filled with pickled carrots and daikon radish, fresh cilantro, crispy cucumber slices and our spicy sauce. Served with sweet potato fries.
Healthful Innovations: The Cheesecake Factory - Explanation of why this project/individual meets the criteria: The Cheesecake Factory Inc. on Monday announced the roll-out of a new The “SkinnyLicious” menu of dishes, delivers an exceptional dining experience to our calorie-conscious guests, without compromising the delicious taste that people have come to expect.
Chef/Innovator: Stan Frankenthaler, Executive Chef/Directory Culinary Development, Dunkin' Brands - Long before "fusion cuisine" became a food trend, Stan Frankenthaler began incorporating traditional Asian flavors and cooking techniques into his own special style of cooking. Filled with flavor and color, Frankenthaler's food uses time-honored traditions in authentic ways that respect their origins.

Hall of Fame: Chef Jose Garces, Garces Restaurant Group - Since opening his first restaurant, Amada, in 2005, Chef Jose Garces has emerged as an enormous talent and one of the nation's most gifted young chefs. He has opened five additional restaurants, in both Philadelphia and Chicago; authored a stunning cookbook, Latin Evolution (Lake Isle Press, September 2008); won James Beard Foundation's prestigious Best Chef Mid-Atlantic award 2009; and appeared on Food Network's Iron Chef America

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