Premium offerings at quick-service burger giants, pizza at a casual-dining chain, a surprisingly successful ancient grain and a whole lot of crab are all being recognized for excellence with the 2014 MenuMasters Awards.

Presented by Nation’s Restaurant News and sponsored by Ventura Foods, the awards honor outstanding foodservice research and development. Winners have created menu items that NRN’s editorial board has judged to have had a significant impact on the restaurant industry.

Chili’s Grill & Bar, McDonald’s, Wendy’s, First Watch and Joe’s Crab Shack will all be honored for menu items introduced in the past year at a gala celebration at the Drake Hotel in Chicago May 17.

In addition, True Food Kitchen will be granted the Trendsetter award for captivating its customers with food that’s both delicious and nutritious.

Kansas City, Mo.-based chef Michael Smith has been named Innovator of the Year for his decades of work in using his French training and American ingredients to produce great food in the country’s heartland.

And Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken will be inducted into the MenuMasters Hall of Fame both for elevating the conversation about Mexican food and their commitment to creating a sustainable food environment.

See the full report, above, for a deeper look at the winning dishes, menus and chefs that are driving innovation in foodservice.

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