Culinary News from The Culinary Institute of America

CIA and QSR Magazine Spotlight Plant-Forward Fast-Casual Restaurants

New Watch List Highlights Brands Taking Plant-Forward Menus Mainstream

Hyde Park, NY – To help lead the conversation in plant-forward menu innovation—particularly in the fast-casual restaurant sector—The Culinary Institute of America unveils a new collaboration with QSR magazine, coinciding with the opening of the Global Plant-Forward Culinary Summit, which runs from today through Friday, May 3 at The CIA at Copia in Napa, CA.

The CIA and QSR have partnered to create the QSR-CIA Plant-Forward Fast-Casual Watch List, an in-depth report highlighting the leading brands with a commitment to plant-forward menu innovation. Featuring well-known fast-casual players as well as smaller emerging brands, the Watch List shines a spotlight on multi-unit restaurant concepts working to make plant-based ingredients—such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and plant proteins—the stars of the menu. The variety of restaurants highlighted by this CIA-QSR collaboration underscores the extent to which plant-forward eating has moved beyond independent and niche restaurants into the mainstream, setting the stage for broader adoption.

“Customers’ preferences are increasingly arcing toward what we might think of as ‘deliciousness 2.0,’ marked by a greater embrace of health, sustainability, and more plant-rich food choices,” says Greg Drescher, CIA vice president of strategic initiatives. “Whether one is a flexitarian or a vegetarian, an omnivore or a vegan, there has never been more choice for those seeking these next-generation flavors. Together with QSR, we can highlight the incredible energy and diversity in the fast-casual sector around advancing plant-forward menus.”

The Watch List, which appears in QSR’s May issue, pairs the CIA’s leadership in culinary innovation and education with the magazine’s deep expertise in the fast-casual restaurant industry. CIA experts vetted the Watch List with an approach inspired by its industry-leading Menus of Change® initiative that places an emphasis on menus significantly elevating plants while remaining accessible and creative. These principles are thoroughly examined by industry leaders at the annual Menus of Change Leadership Summit, this year being held June 18–20 in Hyde Park, NY, presented by the CIA and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

“I have no doubt that the future of restaurant menu innovation will be more plant-forward,” says Sam Oches, editorial director of QSR publisher Food News Media. “The fast-casual industry in particular has a great opportunity to take plant-based eating mainstream, and we believe the brands on our Watch List are best positioned to do just that.”

As part of the partnership, Oches is moderating panels of fast-casual leaders at both the Global Plant-Forward Culinary Summit and Menus of Change. This week’s panel features Tender Greens cofounder Erik Oberholtzer, Chaia Tacos cofounder and principal Bettina Stern, HipCityVeg founder and CEO Nicole Marquis, and former Veggie Grill CEO Greg Dollarhyde.

Photo Caption and Hi-Res Image:

Coinciding with the opening of The Culinary Institute of America’s Global Plant-Forward Culinary Summit on May 1, 2019, the college and QSR magazine have collaborated on the first QSR-CIA Plant-Forward Fast-Casual Watch List, highlighting leading brands committed to plant-forward menu innovation.
View hi-res image >

Media Contact:

Jeff Levine
Communications Writer

About The Culinary Institute of America:

Founded in 1946, The Culinary Institute of America is the world’s premier culinary college. Dedicated to developing leaders in foodservice and hospitality, the independent, not-for-profit CIA offers master’s, bachelor’s, and associate degrees with majors in culinary arts, baking & pastry arts, food business management, hospitality management, culinary science, and applied food studies. The college also offers executive education, certificate programs, and courses for professionals and enthusiasts. Its conferences, leadership initiatives, and consulting services have made the CIA the think tank of the food industry and its worldwide network of more than 50,000 alumni includes innovators in every area of the food world. The CIA has locations in New York, California, Texas, and Singapore.

About QSR:

QSR magazine is a thought leader for the quick-service and fast-casual restaurant industries, delivering news and insights to restaurant executives, operators, franchisees, managers, and more. Now in its 22nd year of publication, QSR takes seriously its role in promoting industry values through its award-winning editorial content. That has included an editorial spotlight on, among other things, women leaders making contributions to the foodservice industry and quick-service and fast-casual brands making the greatest strides to protect the health and nutrition of their customers.

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