Talking Culinary Creations with Quiznos' Zach Calkins

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This week's Fast Times takes us in a different direction. Typically, a fast food product is consumed and you get the gist of my experience. This week, we sat down with Zach Calkins of Quiznos, to find out how some of these items are created.

EOW: What is your formal title at Quiznos?

ZC: I'm the Senior Vice President of Culinary Creations.

EOW: Do you have any formal training?

ZC: I attended the New England Culinary Institute.

EOW: From start to finish, how long does it typically take for your ideas at Quiznos to reach the menu?

ZC: At Quiznos, we are so nimble. The people that work at Quiznos and our vendors who are partners are nimble along with us, or they wouldn't survive.  We can finish up focus groups and make tweaks to products to have them ready for a national launch within two months.

EOW: For every great idea, how many get canned?

ZC: For example, we have a pulled pork product that we're getting ready to launch in June... I took 10 pork, 10 turkey, and 10 chicken sandwiches. So that's 30 sandwiches that I felt any one of, would be a swing for the fences. But to get to that 30, I probably developed 50 things before I felt comfortable showing the top 10 of each category.

EOW: So, you went from 50 ideas, to 30 sandwiches, to one?

ZC: Yup.

EOW: You must have a certain level of patience.

ZC: It really comes down to flexibility.

EOW: Could you talk about some of the latest creations on the Quiznos menu?

ZC: We have the lobster [sandwich]. It was developed about three years ago. It was one of those things people were really nervous about launching because it's a premium product... It was tough for consumers to wrap their head around. But when you had it, it was just magic... It has done really well for us and has exceeded everyone's expectations.

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