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Lorena Garcia to upgrade Taco Bell menu

Posted by: Lee Svitak Dean under Chefs, On the national scene, Restaurant news, TV food shows Updated: January 13, 2012 - 3:38 PM

 

 

Photo from Lorena Garcia

Photo from Lorena Garcia

 

It's a small world in the universe of food, and that's especially true in TV land.

Bloomberg News reports that Lorena Garcia, the Miami-based chef and restaurateur who gained a wider audience as judge in the NBC TV series "America's Next Great Restaurant," has been hired to put a little Chipotle styling into Taco Bell's food - the "think outside the bun" company. That would be the Chipotle from founder Steve Ells, also a judge for "America's Next Great Restaurant." Taco Bell has been hurt, says Bloomberg, by the popular, more sophisticated menu of Chipotle.

Lorena Garcia and Steve Ells were two of the four judges who determined that Jamawn Woods would win "America's Next Great Restaurant" (which he would lose eight weeks after opening). Lorena's signature phrase during the show was that she was looking for "passion" in restaurateurs. Steve's trademark was his demand for "healthier" foods. In one episode of "ANGR," the contestants disastrously worked the line at Chipotle, until Steve Ells showed up to correct them and take over.

At the time of the Mall of America opening of his restaurant Soul Daddy, Jamawn said of Lorena:"Lorena is like a mother [to me], Curtis [Stone] is like a brother, and Steve [Ells] is like the brains." As for Bobby Flay [the fourth judge], he said, "It was a great experience working with Bobby Flay. I look up to him. I watched him all the time on TV." 

The nine-week TV show also served to broaden Lorena's image nationally. Her cookbook, "Lorena Garcia's New Latin Classics," was published in September, several months after the show was over.

 FOR COMPLETE COVERAGE of "America's Next Great Restaurant," see startribune.com/nextgreat

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