Behind the Scenes at Wendy’s

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Yes, you’re actually looking at the lobbies and waiting area at Wendy’s! Did you think it would look this modern and fresh? I definitely didn’t!

The entire experience in Columbus was pretty crazy from the get go. If it’s not apparent from the production value of the video that Plan A films put together on behalf of Wendy’s, there was a pretty big crew. Like 10 or 12 guys strong. The crazy part was, I had no idea that such a big crew would be awaiting me the second I got off the plane at the airport. That was a bit overwhelming. People in baggage claim thought a celebrity was walking by when they saw two cameras and a boom surrounding me, along with various other crew who were tailing them. I tried to dissuade them otherwise. Nothing to see here, folks.

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Part of the crew gearing up for go time.

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Our director, Chusy, watching some footage.

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A quick viewing of us walking in suuuuper slow motion. They ended up using this clip!

This gives you an idea of some of the equipment we were surrounded by while we were there, as does this and this. Crazy, right? Now I know why everyone drinks so much on night one of The Bachelor. Nerves from meeting the other girls and the bachelor, for sure, but also from having cameras around you all of a sudden. It’s a weird experience to be miked and know that everything you’re saying is being recorded! We had to all consciously remind one another to turn mikes off before going into the bathroom. Or be okay with becoming REAL close to the crew, REAL fast. Which, we kinda were anyway by the end of the experience. I also now know why people do reality shows over and over again — you miss your crew family.

A lot of the crew’s main gigs were on major shows that you’ve totally heard of. Like The Voice. I thought that was cool.

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In the Wendy’s test kitchen.

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Lexan storage for days!

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So many utensils, and so perfectly organized!

After we’d tasted the sandwiches, we got a chance to go behind the scenes into the labs and test kitchens, as well as check out Wendy’s sensory tasting center. They have a huge, all white lab filled with these little tasting pods people sit in while trying new product (imagine voting booths, but seated, and everything is stark white). The air in there is even filtered, so as not to persuade someone’s opinion by scents in the air. Pretty hardcore.

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There’s a group of trained sensory specialists that come in a few times a week to taste different samples of different products and ingredients to rank them on things like aroma, texture, taste, and flavor. As science-y and weird as this sounds, I know this is something that most major food companies do. When we stopped in the room, they were tasting a chipotle something sauce, and were in the midst of ranking its smokiness. Interesting, right?

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I had a chance to sit down with Lori Estrada, VP of Development, and Chef Mike, one of the lead chefs and product developers on the new flatbread sandwiches. Here’s a bit from that interview.

V: How did you guys each get into food and product development? Where did you go to culinary school?

Lori: I actually studied food science at San Diego State. I started in exercise physiology, but loved food, so it was a natural transition. I’ve worked at Jack in the Box, Burger King, and Taco Bell before coming to Wendy’s.

Mike: I graduated from culinary school at Midwest Culinary, and then received a degree in Food Science from the University of Cincinnati. I didn’t want to work in a restaurant, and actually got an internship at Wendy’s headquarters. It was the perfect fit for my interests — food science, product development, and working with food. I’ve been here for three years!

V: Obviously many consumers today are becoming more interested in high quality ingredients, and look for organic fruits and veggies and organic, grass-fed or free range meats. Do you think Wendy’s will ever get there and offer these types of products?

L: Maybe. We’re dabbling in it a little bit with chicken right now and testing it out. The problem though, is that even if we decided that we would only offer organic, grass-fed beef tomorrow, there’s no way we could supply it to the number of restaurants we have. Beef’s a lot tougher. There’s just not enough supply right now for the market.

M: But the supply chain absolutely follows consumer demand. If more and more people ask for those types of products, and purchase those things at their grocery stores, the supply chain can change.

V: Okay, so when you’re not at Wendy’s, what do you like to cook for yourself at home? You’ve just gotten home after a long day of work and you make…

L: I’m from San Diego, so tacos! I’ll add in some fresh avocado, salsa, definitely soft corn tortillas…

V: Yum. My favorite. What about you, Mike?

M: If I have the time, barbecue, and Texas style. But on a weeknight, I’ll probably just make a simple pasta for my wife and I. Whatever I can find in the refrigerator!

What do you guys think? Pretty interesting to see a little bit behind a major food corporation, as well as the time and effort it takes for a production crew to make a 5 minute video! It was a really unique experience for me, and I hope you enjoyed following along on the adventure.

One thing I forgot to mention on Tuesday. If you happen to pick up a flatbread sandwich from Wendy’s, you can tweet a photo of it to @Wendys and use the hashtag #TwEATfor1k for a chance to win a thousand dollars. Wendy’s is giving away a grand every single day through May 12th!

{Image Credits: Victoria McGinley for vmac+cheese}

Full disclosure: This post and the travel mentioned herein were sponsored by Wendy’s. All opinions are 100% my own.

Leave a Comment

8 Comments

  1. 4.4.13
    kelsey said:

    wow! it’s so modern and updated inside. :0 very pretty and surprising
    kw ladies in navy

  2. 4.4.13

    Loving that glass fireplace!

    xoxo

    http://folledejoieblog.com

    and check out my latest post, on PINNING: http://bit.ly/XrvP6P

  3. 4.4.13
    Kayla said:

    That is so fun! I really enjoyed reading this!! : )

    Kayla
    http://www.lovelucygirl.com

  4. 4.4.13
    Chelsea said:

    I thought the questions/answer about supply chain was so interesting. We need to just keep buying what we want to eat…although forging the way can be expensive and inconvenient at times. What an interesting experience.
    I guess you tried the sandwich… did you like it? And, did you ever think blogging would lead you to Wendys??

    • 4.4.13
      vmacandcheese said:

      I know, it’s such a give and take of demanding better but playing such a significant role in it too (and discovering the constraints). I posted a review of the sandos on Monday (sorry, they already got buried with new content!) http://vmacandcheese.com/2013/04/02/taste-teste-with-wendys/

      And blogging –> Wendy’s? No way! :)

  5. 4.4.13

    What a fun thing to be able to do! Behind the scenes at commercial food chain. I would love to have all those utensils at my disposal when I’m cooking!! What did you think of the flat bread sandwich?

  6. 4.5.13
    Karen said:

    I work for Wendy’s and enjoyed reading your blog. I saw the day you guys were here but didn’t have a clue what was going on, lol! It is great to work here, we do have a pretty building don’t we? :)

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