Fast food test kitchens create recipes through feedback, trial and error.
By Sarah Szabo
Posted with permission from Oklahoma Magazine.
Nick Powell, QuikTrip corporate chef, and Ryan Boone, QuikTrip intern chef, display creations inside the QuikTrip test kitchen.
One of the main appeals of fast food chains stems from uniformity and the confidence that comes from knowing that regardless of whether you’re in Spokane, Tallahassee or cruising anywhere in between, there will almost always be a restaurant around with a menu you’re familiar with.
But where do those menus come from? Who concocts those recipes and ships them out to stores across the country to follow to the letter and make these all-American meals?
“Most of the ideas for our new food items come from our employees and customers,” says Chuck Barton, director of sales for QuikTrip, discussing the process by which his company develops new sandwiches and snacks for its stores. He says that there is an extensive research and development process in place to gather ideas; ideas which are then graded by an R&D team whose task it is to decide if proposed recipes could be practically, easily done.
“We have a corporate chef as well as four category managers that manage the process,” Barton says. “And each one specializes in one area – pastries and baked goods, fresh sandwiches, desserts, specialty drinks. But if you count our customers and employees, we have millions of people working on new products.”