One of the most exciting aspects of working in a restaurant headquarters are “cuttings.” Cuttings happen in our corporate test kitchen and are held whenever we are trying new conceptual menu items or making a change to a current recipe.
For example, this fall our chicken stock vendor discontinued their product, therefore we needed to source a new product, batch each and every recipe and make sure the taste and quality were consistent with the original. That means for two straight months we had soup for lunch at least twice a week!
This process is fun because it often builds internal excitement for new products, and often gives our local Club Veg guests the chance to come into our office for tasting panel focus groups. It’s interesting to see how such a small difference in an ingredient or spice level can change the taste of a menu item.
Our criteria for any recipe change is to make it as good or better than the original. We have a high bar and let our guests decide if we’ve reached it.
After internal cuttings and guest tasting panels are done, we analyze the data and send the recipe to the restaurant for in-store testing.
Restaurant testing is usually done in three regions across the 15 states we are located in. The guests will be notified via signage (see above) that it is a test recipe and are asked on a comment card if the recipe should stay or go. Guests base their opinions on taste and appearance. If the vast majority of guests agree it’s as good or better than the original, we roll it out to the entire company!
Just a sneak peek, no opinions have been collected yet, but our most recent test is no-sugar-added gingerbread muffins. Keep an eye out for this future menu item if our guests like it.