Q&A with the Burger King U.S. Culinary and Innovation Team!
Have you ever wondered who is behind your favorite Burger King menu innovations? You can thank the Burger King Culinary and Innovation Team! This group of rockstar culinary experts spend their days in the test kitchen at our Miami headquarters working on new menu ideas, experimenting with different flavors, and eating a whole lot of delicious food.
We recently sat down with a few folks from this incredible team including Chef Chad Brauze, Head of Culinary Innovation and Sustainability, Jeff Hartmann, Director of Culinary Innovation, Chloe Hart, Director of Sustainability and Commercialization, Product Development Managers Caitlin Truong and Naeemah Hall, Senior Analyst of Culinary and Commercialization Charlotte Zuber, and Matt Schwab, Analyst in the Culinary & Innovation Program, to discuss what it’s like to be the brains (and the taste buds!) behind many of the popular products our Guests enjoy in over 7,000 Burger King restaurants across the U.S.!
Q: What does a typical day look like being on the culinary and innovation team at BK?
There is no such thing as a typical day on the Culinary team! One day we are trying to come up with the next Halloween build playing around with sauces, crunchy toppings, colorful buns, and spicy cheeses and the next day we could be presenting 5 new Chicken Fry Flavors. Other days, we are traveling to market tests or visiting our supplier plants to commercialize our products. Every day is exciting and presents new challenges – Caitlin Truong
A lot of eating! We get the privilege to sample some of the most exciting and innovative new foods and technologies. Also, a lot of collaboration, we work closely with our Ops R&D team, Equipment R&D, QA and Supply Chain on a daily basis to ensure the products we create in the kitchen can be successful in the restaurant. – Chloe Hart
Q: What is the best part about working on this team?
Our team is super, super collaborative and open with each other. We are also very supportive of each other. This gives us an atmosphere of openness that allows us to always feel like we are in a creative state. – Chad Brauze
My favorite part about BK is working with the team we’ve built. Each of us have unique educational and professional experiences which provide well-balanced perspectives as we develop products. Our personalities also mesh very well providing a very enjoyable day-to-day work experience. – Jeff Hartmann
Q: What product(s) are you post proud of that you helped develop?
Working on the Impossible Whopper back in 2018 is something that has me beaming from ear to ear to this day. It was the forefront of plant-based proteins in QSR, and we were able to bring something new yet familiar to the masses that everyone was intrigued by—plant-based diet or not. It has everything you love about our signature flame-grilled Whopper with a modern take. Still to this day, it is a staple that remains on our menu that has a loyal following. I feel super proud when someone stops me to “thank me” that Burger King has something on the menu that fits their dietary preferences and that they love it. – Caitlin Truong
I am extremely proud of the burger innovation that I have been able to be a part of. With such an iconic brand like Burger King, one of the biggest drivers for our brand is the flavor impact of a flame grilled burger. This is something that I have learned to harness, appreciate, and enhance through my work. – Matt Schwab
Q: Is there anything people might be surprised to learn about being on the BK culinary team?
We visit a lot of production facilities and learn a ton about the inner workings of what it takes to commercialize and produce a product at scale. Something as simple as adding caramelized onions to a burger requires months of preparation. – Chloe Hart
In addition to our normal duties, we get to plan and execute large culinary experiences to promote the brand, or help the BK Foundation raise money. In the last year, we’ve prepared food for launch parties, cooked multiple elaborate seven course dinners, made hundreds of international mini whoppers right by the beach, and served food at a Latin Music award party in Wynwood! – Charlotte Zuber
Q: What makes you most passionate about your job?
I’m so excited about the breadth of things that we get to develop. The level of fun here is pretty insane. On any given day, we can be tasting shakes, working on ice creams, designing Whopper sandwiches, flavoring lemonades, or working on breakfast. It is a ton of fun! – Chad Brauze
Having the honor and privilege to impact the food choices of millions of people every day is an immense responsibility. I love bringing new trends and culinary experiences to so many. – Jeff Hartmann
People think I’m crazy that I never dread going to work, and that I actively pronounce that I love my job. My passion is fueled by the fact that we can provide a delicious meal that can be found almost everywhere in the US at an attractive and attainable price point. I feel blessed that we can make anyone’s day just a bit better by giving them a reliable, delicious meal. – Caitlin Truong
Q: What advice would you give to someone who is starting their career on the BK/RBI culinary team?
I would offer three pieces of advice:
1. Take on challenges: Do internships, lead projects, and never stop learning. Push forward in the face of adversity. Being resilient will allow you to build a strong skill set.
2. Identify your strengths: Explore your talents and focus on developing areas where you excel.
3. Do more of what you love: You own your career path and you can shape it however you want. Be aware of those moments when you are enjoying your work the most. They are guideposts and let you know you are on the right track. – Naeemah Hall
My advice for someone starting their career is establish relationships by volunteering at school or food related events, talking to professors, signing up for stages at restaurants, going to food related alumni talks, and, or getting involved in regional professional organizations. There are so many different career avenues to go down in food and the people you meet along the way will help guide you to get where you want to go! – Charlotte Zuber
Do you have any fun ideas for what the next great Burger King menu item could be!? Send them to email@example.com