Industry News | June 6, 2012

Taco Bell Debuts Gourmet-Inspired Menu July 5

A burrito and bowl from the new Cantina Bell menu. Taco Bell
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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 fewer than $5, 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’s 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:

  • Cantina Bowl: Chicken ($4.79, 560 calories, 22g total fat, 26g protein), Veggie ($4.79, 540 calories, 21g total fat, 14g protein), Steak ($4.99, 550 calories, 23g total fat, 22g protein)
  • Cantina Burrito: Chicken ($4.79, 760 calories, 27g total fat, 32g protein), Veggie ($4.79, 740 calories, 26g total fat, 20g protein), Steak ($4.99, 750 calories, 28g total fat, 28g protein)

 

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,” says 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.

“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,” Garcia says. “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,” Niccol says. “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, [and] in the end, incredibly satisfying.”

Let’s Talk Guac/Si, Si Cilantro

Here’s a highlight of each of Taco Bell’s new ingredients:

  • Black Beans: We use black, not refried, beans, and add a Latin Spice Blend of onion, garlic, cumin, and chili powder, with other ingredients
  • Cilantro Rice: Rice cooked in a cilantro seasoning that features onion, garlic, cilantro, and parsley
  • Citrus and Herb Marinated Chicken: Boneless, skinless chicken breast marinade that features garlic, onion, lemon, cilantro, and tomatillo
  • New Guacamole: Lorena-inspired guacamole made with Hass avocados, and blended with tomato, jalapeno, onion, cilantro, lemon juice, and other ingredients
  • Fire-Roasted Corn Salsa: Super Sweet yellow corn and fresh red and green bell peppers, fire roasted, with our Latin Spice Blend
  • Creamy Cilantro Dressing: Our Lorena-inspired Creamy Cilantro dressing features cilantro blended with oil, lemon juice, vinegar, garlic, and other ingredients
  • Pico de Gallo: Diced tomatoes and onions blended with fresh chopped cilantro and a tangy dressing made with lemon juice and vinegar

 

To support its launch of the Cantina Bell menu, Taco Bell will be launching an integrated TV and online campaign. Created by Draftfcb, Orange County, 15- and 30-second spots will Garcia’s passion for the product. In preparation, Garcia is supporting Taco Bell’s internal rollout of the Cantina Bell menu in order to share her sazón with all 150,000 employees around the country.