2012 MenuMasters Award winners

The 2012 class of MenuMasters Award winners demonstrates there are many paths to success

The 2012 class of MenuMasters Award winners demonstrates there are many paths to success.

All of this year’s winners displayed a flair for innovation in product development — some by introducing items that carried them out of their comfort zones, and others by sticking to their knitting but with a few imaginative stitches worked in. Meanwhile, others recast their menus to enhance the customer experience.

Winners will be honored during the Nation’s Restaurant News MenuMasters Awards Ceremony May 5 at the Drake Hotel in Chicago. The MenuMasters Awards program, which marks its 15th anniversary this year, is sponsored by Ventura Foods. Winners are selected by NRN’s editorial board.

Learn more about this year’s winners and honorees:

Best Menu/Line Extension: Wendy's The "W"

Wendy’s played to its strengths as a quick-service hamburger chain with the launch of The “W,” a premium-but-not-too-premium burger. Full profile>>


Best New Menu Item: Premium Beef Hot Dogs, Sonic, America’s Drive-In

Similarly, Sonic, America’s Drive-In built on the popularity of its existing Chili Cheese Coney by introducing a new line of premium beef hot dogs. Full profile>>


Best Menu Revamp: Buffalo Wild Wings

Buffalo Wild Wings understands how much consumers like to take control of their meals through customization. Full profile>>



Best Limited-Time Offer: Shake, Wrap & Roll!, Quaker Steak & Lube

Quaker Steak & Lube, a motor sports-themed chain that specializes in wings and beer, won the award for Limited Time Offer by matching food with cocktails. Full profile>>



Best Healthful Innovations: SkinnyLicious Menu, The Cheesecake Factory

The Cheesecake Factory, known for indulgent foods and large portion sizes, won the award for Healthful Innovations with its SkinnyLicious menu. Full profile>>



Menu Trendsetter: Bánh Mì Vietnamese Street Sandwich, Mama Fu's Asian House

This year’s Menu Trendsetter award went to the 18-unit Asian chain Mama Fu’s. The Austin, Texas-based brand took its business in a new direction by introducing a sandwich to the menu. Full profile>>


Chef/Innovator: Stan Frankenthaler

This year’s MenuMasters Innovator, Stan Frankenthaler, vice president for global product innovation and culinary for Dunkin’ Brands, has worked to move Dunkin’ Donuts into the lunch daypart with new sandwiches as well as noncoffee drinks. Full profile>>


Hall of Fame: José Garces

Philadelphia-based restaurateur José Garces is being inducted into the MenuMasters Hall of Fame this year. Since opening his first restaurant, Amada, in Philadelphia in 2005, Garces has emerged as a nationally recognized celebrity chef and cookbook writer as well as the operator of 16 popular restaurants. Full profile>>