Chef Lorena Garcia discusses development of new Taco Bell menu

<!--paging_filter--><p>Chef Lorena Garcia wasn&rsquo;t shy about telling Taco Bell that she didn&rsquo;t like its chicken.</p>
<p>On a visit to Los Angeles Wednesday during a nationwide tour to promote the new Cantina Bell menu she developed for the Irvine, Calif.-based Taco Bell, <a href="http://nrn.com/article/taco-bell-roll-out-cantina-bell-menu-nationally">... rolls out nationally July 5</a>, Garcia explained that her goal is to shake things up a bit in the fast food world.</p>
<p>Known for her appearances on television shows such as &ldquo;The Biggest Loser,&rdquo; &ldquo;America&rsquo;s Next Great Restaurant&rdquo; and this year&rsquo;s &ldquo;Top Chef Masters,&rdquo; as well as multiple syndicated shows on networks throughout Latin America, Garcia owns three restaurants in Miami and is active in anti-obesity efforts that target children and schools.</p>
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<p>When Taco Bell came to her two years ago asking for her help in designing new menu options that would bring the 50-year-old chain back to its roots, Garcia said she was initially skeptical.</p>
<p>After tasting everything on Taco Bell&rsquo;s menu, she admitted that she didn&rsquo;t like some things. &ldquo;The chicken was really, really spiced up,&rdquo; she said. It also became clear that Taco Bell&rsquo;s expertise was in &ldquo;cheesy and sour creamy,&rdquo; she added.</p>
<p>Garcia said that although the chain had the system of portioning and consistency down pat, they had, perhaps, lost sight of the food.</p>
<p>&ldquo;I didn&rsquo;t want to compromise my ideas,&rdquo; said Garcia. &ldquo;This was a risky situation for me. But that risk, that challenge, became an opportunity.&rdquo;</p>
<p>So Garcia borrowed from her mother&rsquo;s recipe book and developed a series of menu items for Taco Bell that attempted to elevate the menu with options and new ingredients that will appeal to customers who want to &ldquo;eat more responsibly,&rdquo; she said.</p>
<p>The Cantina Bowl, for example, includes grilled citrus-and-herb marinated chicken with rice, black beans, shredded romaine lettuce, pico de gallo, guacamole and roasted-corn salsa topped with creamy cilantro dressing. The bowl can be made with steak or vegetarian, and the ingredients can also be wrapped in a burrito.</p>
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