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From Upscale Chef to Fast Food Innovator

Hot & Cool Food Trends

Have you noticed recent surge in unbridled culinary creativity on fast food menus of late?

Some of it is of the mad scientist over-indulgence variety.

  • KFC’s Double Down, which sandwiches bacon and cheese between two fried chicken patties
  • Friendly’s hamburger that replaces the bun with two grilled cheese sandwiches
  • Pizza Hut stuffing its pizza crust with cheese--and hot dogs!

You may also have noticed, if you follow such things, the menu innovations that have recently emerged from the humble coffee shops of Dunkin’ Donuts.

Earlier this month the doughnut chain came out with an Oreo doughnut. That menu newcomer joins other recent additions such as pancake-wrapped sausage nuggets and a breakfast sandwich that features two maple-infused waffles.

The culinary genius behind these menu innovations is a man with a mad scientist-sounding name. Stan Frankenthaler is a classically-trained chef who was heralded as one of Boston’s top high-end chefs in the 1990s and early 2000s, earning several James Beard nominations for his efforts.

Then, in 2005, Frankenthaler dropped out of Bean Town's haute cuisine scene and signed on as the Dunkin’ Brands first-ever executive chef, in charge of new product development.

Now Frankenthaler has been honored as Menumasters Innovator of the Year, a menu R&D award bestowed by Nation’s Restaurant News magazine and Ventura Foods, a maker of cooking oils, margarines and salad dressings.

In addition to the menu innovations mentioned previously, some of the other tasty concoctions Frankenthaler and his Dunkin’ Brands team came up with this year included Bagel Twists and an Angus Steak and Egg Sandwich, plus Salted Caramel Cashew ice cream for Dunkin' sister brand, Baskin-Robbins.

You can read more about Frankenthaler, including a Q&A with the chef in this Boston Globe story.

In the meantime, we’ll keep an eye out for what mad genius menu creations come alive from the laboratory of "Doctor" Frankenthaler and his team in the months ahead.

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