Chipotle Mexican Grill (NYSE: CMG) has entered into a partnership with chef, restaurateur and James Beard-nominated cookbook author, Richard Blais, for its Tasty Made burger restaurant. Blais, whose other ventures include the highly acclaimed Juniper & Ivy and popular new chicken concept, Crack Shack, will bring his fine dining knowledge and considerable experience in the fast-casual space to the upstart Tasty Made concept, which opened its first location in October 2016.
Blais and the Chipotle brand have had a long relationship in the industry and community. The partnership will further highlight the like-mindedness of Blais and Chipotle’s vision to make great-tasting food, prepared with whole, unprocessed ingredients, available to everyone.
“Richard is an extraordinary chef and an exceptionally capable restaurateur,” said Steve Ells, founder, chairman and CEO of Chipotle. “While talking about the possibility of joining forces to do something that would have a positive, meaningful impact on food culture in America, we quickly landed on the notion of his joining Tasty Made. I have long believed that there was an opportunity to make the fast food burger a great burger using better quality ingredients. Richard’s expertise is perfect to help us do that. He can apply his compelling vision and entrepreneurial spirit to our work in progress and oversee operations, allowing me to remain focused on continuing to grow and strengthen the Chipotle brand.”
Blais plans to revisit the restaurant with a fresh eye, working to perfect the existing menu and expanding options. Currently, Tasty Made features four items: burgers, fries, shakes and sodas. Grilled-to-order burgers are made from fresh, not frozen, beef, and fries are hand cut in the restaurant and twice fried to a perfect, golden crispiness. Tasty Made’s basic vanilla shake includes only five ingredients: milk, cream, sugar, eggs and vanilla. Other hand-mixed flavors include chocolate, strawberry and buckeye, an Ohio favorite created for Tasty Made’s first location.
“Steve and Chipotle have had such a significant impact on reinventing fast food,” said Blais. “There is no more iconic fast food than burgers, and I have always thought that there is a way to do them on a really big scale without compromising the quality of the food or the overall restaurant experience. Joining forces with Chipotle and Tasty Made is a truly unique opportunity to do that.”
Blais may be most recognizable as the winner of Bravo television’s “Top Chef All-Stars,” but for years prior, and since, he has successfully owned and operated Trail Blais, a culinary consulting business, along with writing multiple cookbooks, and hosting several popular television shows. Like Ells, he is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America who went on to cook at such renowned restaurants as The French Laundry, Daniel, Chez Panisse, and el Bulli.
Tasty Made will unveil changes or enhancements to the concept stemming from the relationship with Blais as they are made.
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