Industry News | December 17, 2013 | QSR Exclusive Brief

Dunkin’ Fans Strive for Top Chef Status

DDonut DDessert Nachos Dunkin' Donuts
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Dunkin’ Donuts turned to fans on social media for its latest venture in culinary innovation. Inspired by its partnership with Bravo’s "Top Chef," the coffee and doughnut brand set out to hold its own quick-fire challenge through a Google+ Hangout, using recipes submitted through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

“We are excited about our partnership with Bravo’s Top Chef because, like Dunkin’ Donuts, the show promotes, encourages, and celebrates culinary innovation,” said John Costello, president of global marketing and innovation, in an e-mail. “We thought a fun and innovative way to celebrate this spirit of culinary experimentation would be to get our fans involved, too.”

Through the end of November, Dunkin’ invited fans to use the #DDTopChef hashtag to submit recipes that incorporated at least one Dunkin’ Donuts menu item. The brand’s chefs then whittled down the submissions to six finalists, bringing each vision to life during a live competition broadcast over a special Google+ page on December 11.

“Google+ Hangout was the perfect venue to announce the #DDTopChef recipe contest’s results because of the capabilities of their platform to connect with so many viewers at once to a live video chat,” Costello says. “The chat allowed our fans to ask questions and see—in real time—what takes place in our test kitchen.”

Costello says fans engaged by tweeting to vote for the winner and interacting through Google+ as chefs whipped up dishes like Dunkin’ Donuts Hazelnut Coffee Pancakes with a Coffee Caramel Sauce, Old Fashioned Donut Fried Chicken with Dunkin’ Dark Roast Redeye Gravy, and Munchkins Donut Hole Treats Bread PuDDing.

“Each of the recipes submitted was truly creative, taking a fun twist on Dunkin’ Donuts menu items and using them in some of their favorite meals and dishes,” Costello says.

Also among the finalists were Beer and Dunkin’ Coffee Marinated Brussels Sprouts and Munchktizers made with Brie, Blue cheese, ginger spread, fig spread, and prosciutto stuffed into Dunkin’ Munchkins.

The winning recipe, submitted by Jannine F. from Malden, Massachusetts, presented a sweet twist on a savory snack staple—her DDonut DDessert Nachos are made with six Glazed Donuts grilled lightly to create crisp doughnut chip, then topped with bananas, strawberries, chocolate sauce, and whipped cream.

“[Jannine] wanted to create a dish that shows that donuts aren’t just for breakfast and that they can also be enjoyed for dessert,” Costello says. “After receiving a panini press for her birthday, Jannine decided to try out the panini press to crisp up the glazed donut slices in her recipe.”

The result takes the brand’s classic doughnut to a new level of culinary fun that Costello says Dunkin’ fans could easily replicate in their homes.

By Tamara Omazic