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The Wall Street Journal reports that a number of restaurant chains better known for serving mainstream, uninventive fare are turning to gourmet recipes and esoteric ingredients as a way of attracting new customers.

Whether it is free-range seasoned with juniper berries available at Chipotle Grill (which is owned by McDonald’s), bruschetta at TGI Friday’s, or filet mignon at Bennigan’s, these and other chains are hiring classically trained chefs to develop these new, upscale meals.
KC's View:
This is an interesting trend worth paying attention to, though one has to be careful not to accept it too much at face value.

On the one hand, we agree with the notion of catering to an aspirational customer base that wants better products that are healthier for them; you can’t go wrong by trying to educate and uplift people’s palates.

On the other hand, when you start reading about some of the recipes and ingredients, you sort of get the sense that some of these items have been added to menus as trophies, as hype for a restaurant’s image rather than because of any master plan or strategy.

It’s funny, the WSJ cites Bennigan's, a unit of Metromedia Restaurant Group, for hiring a new food director, chef David Sonzogni, who apparently once was President Nixon's personal chef. Well, we seem to remember reading once that Nixon’s favorite food was a casserole in which the main ingredient was canned cream of chicken soup…so maybe that’s not the best example of inventive cooking experience.