June 07, 2012 // Franchising.com // IRVINE, Calif. - Taco Bell® will bring gourmet inspired bowls and burritos with its new Cantina Bell™ menu, an industry-changing partnership with chef Lorena Garcia that launches nationwide Thursday, July 5. The expanded menu—with suggested prices less than $5.00—delivers extraordinary value, incredible convenience, accessibility, and is inspired by Garcia’s passion for flavor and great taste.
Cantina Bell will introduce vibrant flavors to millions of Americans, all the while complementing the tastes of Taco Bell’s existing core menu. It is backed by a “guarantee”—if consumers don’t love it, Taco Bell will replace it. Garcia—who was featured on NBC “America’s Next Great Restaurant” and will appear on the new season of Bravo’s “Top Chef Masters” July 25 – worked with Taco Bell beginning in October 2010 to create and perfect the menu. All inspired by Garcia, Cantina Bell will feature eight new ingredients for Taco Bell such as whole black beans, cilantro rice, 100-percent all-white meat chicken in a citrus and herb marinade, guacamole made with 100-percent Hass avocado, fire-roasted corn salsa, creamy cilantro dressing, romaine lettuce and pico de gallo. The Cantina Bell menu items will include veggie options:
Beyond the new food items and sides, Garcia has influenced the menu in other ways by focusing on the build and presentation, and by including more ingredients per item but each in smaller amounts.
Taco Bell will also offer side combinations as part of the new menu, including: chips and Garcia’s pico de gallo or fire-roasted corn salsa, chips and guacamole, or black beans and cilantro rice, each for $1.49.
“Lorena is truly an inspiration, and her new menu and passion for food has inspired a new menu with the freshest flavors that exceed expectations,” said Brian Niccol, Chief Marketing and Innovation Officer, Taco Bell Corp. “Additionally, in true Taco Bell fashion, she worked with us to create a high quality, value-driven lineup of new offerings comprised of new ingredients that offers a broader array of tastes and flavors our consumers are seeking, all wrapped up in terrific Taco Bell value and convenience.”
Niccol continued, speaking to Cantina Bell™: “Lorena worked incredibly hard as a member of our team to make this happen, starting with 26 recipes and eventually we ended up with eight. She knew her name would be on it, literally – each item will be handed to customers with her signature – and Lorena wanted every layer of taste to be just right, to underscore, as she describes it, her sazón. The test results showed that the hard work paid off and we look forward to taking it national.”
“Taco Bell approached me with an interesting challenge,” said Lorena Garcia. “They have a passionate fan base that loves the great taste of the classic menu items – and they don’t want to change that. They were looking to keep these menu items and expand their food to offer new flavors with great taste. As a chef, I saw this as an opportunity to help create diversity to the Taco Bell experience, and to introduce and celebrate the tastes and flavors from around the world to millions of customers.”
To help promote the new Cantina Bell menu and encourage consumer trial, Taco Bell is guaranteeing its quality. If a customer tries and doesn’t like the Cantina Bowl or Cantina Burrito, Taco Bell will replace it. “We stand behind the quality of all of our products,” said Niccol. “With Cantina Bell, we want to underscore this commitment. Our fans love layers of flavors – and our new menu delivers flavors that are brighter, refreshing, in the end, incredibly satisfying.”
To support its launch of the Cantina Bell™ menu, Taco Bell will be launching an integrated TV and online campaign, 15- and 30-second spots – all created by Draftfcb, Orange County – emphasizing Garcia’s passion for the product. In preparation, Garcia is supporting Taco Bell’s internal roll-out of the Cantina Bell menu in order to share her sazón with all 150,000 employees around the country.
One of the country’s leading Latina chefs, Garcia was born and raised in Venezuela. Garcia completed her law studies at the Santa Maria University in Caracas and moved to the United States to complete her associate degree in paralegal studies. Making her dream to become a chef a reality, Garcia traded her law papers for a cutting board and chef’s knife to study culinary arts at Johnson and Wales University. Garcia has been a featured guest on NBC’s “Today Show” and NBC’s reality competition series “America’s Next Great Restaurant.” More recently, Lorena will appear on Bravo’s “Top Chef Masters,” which premiers this summer on July 25. For more information on “Top Chef Masters,” please go to www.BravoTV.com.
Taco Bell Corp. ("Taco Bell"), a subsidiary of Yum! Brands, Inc., (NYSE: YUM), is the nation's leading Mexican-style quick service restaurant. Taco Bell serves tacos, burritos, signature quesadillas, nachos, and other specialty items. Taco Bell serves more than 36.8 million consumers each week in nearly 5,600 restaurants in the U.S.