Published on: March 29th, 2023
Written by: Lily Pepe
Article source: Foodable
The Fast Casual Nation Podcast offers exclusive interviews with experts ranging from top chefs and brand makers to executives and restaurants who work in one of the fastest-growing segments of the restaurant industry. In this episode, I talk with Katy Velazquez, Corporate Executive Chef at QDOBA about how the fast-casual Mexican restaurant is able to stay current on trends and be true to its identity.
QDOBA with over 730+ restaurants located in the U.S. and Canada is the second largest brand in the Mexican fast-casual industry but is the largest brand in the industry that franchises. QDOBA’s menu offers a combination of made-to-order, a la carte, and chef-driven, curated cuisine with freshly-prepared ingredients, with many items made in-house.
Velazquez and I talk about getting into the restaurant industry, she says, “I fell in love with food. I started working in restaurants when I was 19 as a host at a brewery and I just fell in love with it. I grew up doing theater, and I think there’s really this connection to me between theater and restaurants.”
After finishing culinary school, Velazquez worked for James Beard Award-winning chef Rick Bayless. She attributes her time with Bayless to completely changing the trajectory of her career. Valezquez says, “I just fell in love with Mexican food and the culture and the way they feed people.”
QDOBA with a history of twenty-seven years prides itself on true flavors for its customers. Velazquez shares that the brand is always looking for flavor differentiators which are things that other restaurants in the market do not offer. She says “we are creating burritos, bowls, and nachos, but we want to have these extra special sauces and toppings that are the things that you’re really going to remember.”
Hear Velazquez talk about her advice for restaurant executives when it comes to keeping menu items fresh and appealing to customers, plus her top 3 tips for developing a menu check out this episode of Fast Casual Nation or tune in on Apple Podcasts.
If you want to get insights from a restauranteur, watch this episode of Chef AF with chef and restaurateur, Ebony Austin of Nouveau Bar and Grill.