DENVER — Chipotle Mexican Grill has hired Richard Blais, a chef, restaurateur and James Beard-nominated cookbook author, to lead the company’s new burger concept, Tasty Made.
“Richard is an extraordinary chef and an exceptionally capable restaurateur,” said Steve Ells, founder, chairman and chief executive officer of Chipotle. “While talking about the possibility of joining forces to do something that would have a positive, meaningful impact on food culture in America, we quickly landed on the notion of his joining Tasty Made. I have long believed that there was an opportunity to make the fast food burger a great burger using better quality ingredients. Richard’s expertise is perfect to help us do that. He can apply his compelling vision and entrepreneurial spirit to our work in progress and oversee operations, allowing me to remain focused on continuing to grow and strengthen the Chipotle brand.”
Chipotle first hinted at intentions to expand into the premium burger space when the company filed a trademark application in March 2016 for “Better Burger.” Chipotle opened the first Tasty Made restaurant in Lancaster, Ohio, in October 2016.
Mr. Blais is tasked with expanding menu options and enhancing current offerings. The company said Tasty Made will unveil any changes or enhancements as they are made. Current menu items include burgers, fries, shakes and sodas. Burgers are grilled-to-order and made from fresh, not frozen, ground beef. Fries are hand cut in the restaurant and twice fried. Tasty Made’s basic vanilla shake includes only five ingredients: milk, cream, sugar, eggs and vanilla. The shakes also come in chocolate, strawberry and buckeye, a flavor created for Tasty Made’s first location in Ohio.
“Steve and Chipotle have had such a significant impact on reinventing fast food,” Mr. Blais said. “There is no more iconic fast food than burgers, and I have always thought that there is a way to do them on a really big scale without compromising the quality of the food or the overall restaurant experience. Joining forces with Chipotle and Tasty Made is a truly unique opportunity to do that.”Mr. Blais is a winner of Bravo television’s “Top Chef All-Stars.” He also owns and operates Trail Blais, a culinary consulting business. He is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and has cooked at such renowned restaurants as The French Laundry, Daniel, Chez Panisse and el Bulli.