Taco Bell teams up with chef of top Phoenix restaurant Chilte | Phoenix New Times

Valley chef to reimagine Taco Bell’s Crunchwrap Supreme

Chilte's Lawrence "L.T." Smith is one of three U.S. chefs tapped to recreate the chain's iconic dish.
Taco Bell's Crunchwrap Supreme will be reimagined by chefs, including Chilte's Lawrence "L.T." Smith.
Taco Bell's Crunchwrap Supreme will be reimagined by chefs, including Chilte's Lawrence "L.T." Smith. Taco Bell Corp.
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More than 20 years after Taco Bell debuted its six-sided tostada sandwiched in a burrito, the Crunchwrap Supreme is getting a cheffed-up remix. And, leading the evolution is one of the Valley’s rising culinary stars.

Chilte’s Lawrence "L.T." Smith is one of three “headliners” chosen by Taco Bell to be part of TBX, a program that pairs emerging chefs with the fast food giant “to co-create the future of tacos,” according to the TBX website. Smith is joined by San Antonio chef Jennifer Hwa Dobbertin and Philadelphia's Reuben Asaram.

“It’s going to be really cool to see what us three different chefs do, putting ourselves into that Crunchwrap, putting our souls into it and really just having fun riffs with it,” says Smith, the chef and co-owner of the “new school Mexican” eatery inside Grand Avenue’s Egyptian Motor Hotel.

Taco Bell’s handheld starts with a flour tortilla and is layered with ground beef, nacho cheese sauce, a tostada, lettuce, tomatoes and sour cream. It can be “hacked” in innumerable combinations, which is part of the appeal, Smith says.

“It’s the jam. It’s the most riffed-on item by home cooks, professional cooks,” he says. “It’s super fun to play with.”

The collaboration – announced on Feb. 9 in Las Vegas during Taco Bell’s Live Más LIVE event – comes on the heels of a big year for Chilte, which was named among both Esquire and Bon Appetit's best new restaurants.

click to enlarge Chef Lawrence "L.T." Smith.
Chilte chef and co-owner Lawrence "L.T." Smith has partnered with Taco Bell to remix its iconic Crunchwrap Supreme.
Taco Bell Corp.
Though Smith and his wife Aseret Arroyo are no strangers to partnering with fellow chefs and creatives at Chilte, this offer was unexpected and intriguing to him.

“They collab with musical artists, they collab with athletes, so why not collab with chefs and really try to innovate and make some cool stuff in the pop culture world of food?” he says.

Taco Bell selected Smith and his fellow chefs based on their longtime love of the fast food chain as well as their culinary creativity and point of view.

A former football player, Smith says he would often visit Taco Bell after games, ordering a Cheesy Gordita Crunch, Baja Blast and Diablo Sauce, sometimes with a “side piece” bean burrito or Crunchwrap. It's still his go-to order today.

“It’s nostalgic,” he says. “I grew up with Taco Bell.”

Smith is in the beginning stages of developing his recipe and has visited the Taco Bell Test Kitchen in California.

When and where Phoenicians will be able to try Smith’s take on the Crunchwrap Supreme has yet to be announced. But, TBX has also put out a call for other chefs to apply to partner, proclaiming, “our back of house just got bigger.”

Smith says he’s excited to get to work on this collaboration.

“The world is endless for what you can do with the Crunchwrap Supreme,” he says.
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