Winning duo each received a scholarship and will work with the brand to put dish on corporate menus
Last month, Taco John’s hosted its 10th Annual Taco John’s High School Culinary Competition at the brand’s headquarters in Cheyenne. Following the competition, two Riverton High School students – junior Kelcie Caswell and senior Samantha Gaudern – took home the grand prize.
Caswell and Gaudern competed against five other high school teams across the state and won with their delectable “Taco Pie” recipe. Each received a $500 scholarship and will travel back to Cheyenne to work with the Taco John’s team to put their award-winning dish on the menu of the chain’s 15 corporate stores in Wyoming and Colorado.
The duo’s winning entrée consists of seasoned ground beef, smashed Potato Olès®, two cheeses and cilantro all packed inside a miniature tortilla shell. If the Taco Pie is a hit, it has the potential to go national and be placed on the menu in nearly 400 Taco John’s locations across the country.
“The key is the ability to make these dishes quickly,” said Bob Karisny, Vice President of Menu Strategy and Innovation. “We’re a fast-food chain so the ability to make an outstanding new dish and do it rapidly is paramount.”
Each team had 90 minutes to prepare their recipe in the corporate kitchen. Upon completion, the two-person teams presented their finished item to a panel of judges and then explained their recipe. The voting was very close. Teams were graded on six main areas: creativity, flavor, overall fit with the Taco John’s brand, the research and development process, overall presentation, and teamwork. To watch a video of the competition, visit tacojohns.com/culinary-contest.
With its fusion of distinctive flavors and south-of-the-border spices, the Taco John’s menu offers several signature items, including Meat and Potato Burritos, original Street Tacos and Potato Olés. Taco John’s also features epic specials like Taco Tuesday. Download the TJ Rewards App and like Taco John’s Facebook page for exclusive deals.
Taco John’s operates and franchises nearly 400 quick-service restaurants in 23 states. Privately owned, the business opened its first restaurant in 1969 in Cheyenne, WY. Taco John’s prides itself on serving generous portions, menu items prepared fresh to your order, high quality ingredients and special recipes, seasonings and sauces. For more information visit tacojohns.com.