Industry News | June 23, 2014 | QSR Exclusive Brief

boloco Experiments with Bold Flavors, On-Trend Ingredients

Kale Cobb Salad boloco
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With a globally inspired menu lineup, boloco’s director of culinary Eric Kinniburgh has room to play with bold flavor profiles and healthy, on-trend ingredients. He’s know internally as the “Good Food Dude” and is partly responsible for the chain’s latest menu additions such as the New England Harvest Salad and the forthcoming kale smoothie.

“The sustainability mission behind boloco spoke volumes to me,” Kinniburgh says. “And the whole global and regional cuisine mission was interesting—I like being able to play in other people’s realms …  and use the tortilla as a vessel to build culinary creations.”

The Boston-based brand toes the line between regional, healthy, and also palatable, he says. Creating globally inspired dishes that will resonate with any customer that walks in can be a challenge, but Kinniburgh says it’s all in the timing.

“Part of it is staying on top of trends, like quinoa, … but we’re picking those up on the tail end once people become familiar with them,” he says. “It’s what I call pedestrian—we’re not dumbing it down too far, but we have to get it to where the vast majority of people who walk through the door say, ‘That’s really cool.’”

In January, boloco introduced quinoa as a substitute for rice in the chain’s build-your-own burritos, wraps, and bowls. The new ingredient is also featured in the New England Harvest Salad, which features roasted butternut squash, cranberries, beets, mushrooms, beets, kale, Goat cheese, and a balsamic dressing.

“It’s palatable, and the ingredients are pedestrian enough that everybody recognizes them,” Kinniburgh says of the salad.

The addition of the New England Harvest Salad was coupled with the launch of the Kale Cobb Salad to provide a more indulgent option, he adds. The Kale Cobb featured organic baby kale, romaine, tomatoes, bacon, hard-boiled egg, aged Cheddar, herbed croutons, and blue cheese dressing.

“We see kale has gotten to that point where enough of the mainstream population is familiar with it,” Kinniburgh says. The brand will launch a kale smoothie in July to capitalize on the trend and also couple it with an orange creamsicle beverage to provide consumers variety.

The next frontier for boloco may be Asian cuisine. “We had a chopped sesame salad at one point, but we took that off sometime in January because it was a little dated,” Kinniburgh says. “We knew we could do something a little bit more dialed in, a little bit more creative.”

The brand is already experimenting with bowl and salad platforms that feature ingredients like bok choy, tamari almonds, and house-made Asian-inspired vinaigrettes.

By Tamara Omazic