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R&D Food Scientist 
Taco Cabana 273 reviews - 
San Antonio, TX




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  • This position supports the Director of Research and Development in the development and commercialization of food and beverage products from bench-top or initial sample prototypes into restaurant-ready viable products. The critical aspect of this role is to manage both internal and supplier assets, timelines and processes while ensuring that commercialized products retain the same (or improved) quality, performance and consumer appeal as the initial culinary concepts.
  • Skills required include a demonstrated advanced knowledge of food science, food technologies, product commercialization and food/beverage manufacturing processes (a well-developed understanding of Mexican/Latin inspired food is greatly preferred). Practical operational capabilities must include: food costing and related financial skills, practical experience with both quantitative and qualitative evaluation of foods and food equipment/procedures, effective management of vendor/supplier assets against strategic goals and a demonstrated ability to effectively assess and optimize the operational feasibility of products in the QSR/Fast Casual restaurant environment.
  • Key responsibilities include: concept ideation; prototype development; manufacturer scale up, operational viability optimization, supporting the presentation of concepts and products, comprehensive analytical evaluation of food, beverage and technology products, maintenance of the internal recipe and costing database and the efficient sourcing and management of the New Product Innovation product/sample inventory. Must demonstrate the ability to successfully manage multiple projects concurrently in a lean, dynamic and fast-paced culture.


  • Participation and engagement in New Product ideations & concept development sessions in a highly collaborative environment.
  • Independently lead the development and commercialization of both new products (Innovation) and core product improvements (Renovation) under the direction of the Director of R&D.
  • Perform regular benchmarking and competitive gap analysis of new menu platforms and core menu products, generating analytical reports on findings and recommendations for continuous product improvement.
  • Facilitate the sourcing of new products, ingredients, flavors or functional ingredients in support of commercialization initiatives.
  • Leverage food science/food manufacturing experience during the commercialization phase of new product development, working directly with external/vendor peers on the optimization of products/processes during scale-up.
  • Attend all start-up production runs, analyzing and validating that the production product meets internal quality and performance metrics.
  • Maintain the new product test product pantry and inventory of multiple iterations of products under development; coordinating internal and external evaluations of test products as required.
  • Request samples and track delivery of all test products.
  • Support Marketing and R&D with internal and external consumer testing/sensory evaluation of products.
  • Maintain timely knowledge of relevant food science, manufacturing and technology trends and industry insights with the ability to leverage that knowledge when identifying opportunities and developing concepts.
  • Prepare appropriate documentation and materials to insure a seamless transition from Research and Development to Training/Ops Services, including cost analysis.
  • Take on additional projects as required by department or concept. Partner with Purchasing on an as-needed basis to validate cost savings opportunities.
  • Support Marketing and R&D with the execution of photo/video shoots or specific PR initiatives.
  • Perform other ad-hoc assignments as requested by upper management.
  • Other duties as assigned.


  • 5-7 years minimum progressive experience as a Food Scientist/Food Technologist with an emphasis on product commercialization. Experience developing products for the chain restaurant (QSR/Fast Casual) segment preferred.
  • Food Manufacturing R&D/commercialization experience is required. Culinary expertise: theoretical understanding and practical application of culinary principles relevant to the QSR/Fast Casual restaurant segment.
  • Demonstrated familiarity and working experience with relevant food manufacturing systems including but not limited to: kettle operations, vacuum tumbling and marination, commercial flavor system development, protein processing and hot/cold fill processes. Operations experience: is familiar and comfortable with the level of operational capabilities and equipment platforms within our category and is able to commercialize products for success within those parameters.
  • Financial acumen: has experience in food/formula costing, yield analysis and financial reporting. Insights/data-driven: integrates consumer, competitive and industry trends and insights into product development process. Knowledge of our current menu items, positioning, innovation strategies, industry segment and market-specific competitors.
  • Demonstrated ability to take direction, formulate a plan and execute that plan with limited direct supervision. Demonstrates the exceptional attention to detail required when documenting formulations, inputting costs, evaluating products and managing multiple deliverables/timelines.


  • B.S. in Food Science. Food Technology/Food Manufacturing (Masters preferred) from an accredited institution. Relevant work experience will be considered in lieu of specific degree.
  • 5-7 years progressive R&D development experience in the foodservice segment
  • Experience commercializing products from bench-top culinary prototypes/concepts is required.


  • Must have strong written and oral communication skills.
  • Bi-Lingual (Spanish-English) preferred.
  • Must possess experience and strength presenting ideas in a food cutting/training environment.
  • Must openly engage and leverage knowledge and experience during cross-functional ideations, meetings and planning sessions.


  • Advanced computer skills with advanced knowledge of Microsoft Excel, Word and Power Point.
  • Knowledge of ESHA’s Genesis software a plus.


  • The physical demands described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform essential functions. While performing the duties of this job, the employee is regularly required to sit, talk, or hear.
  • The employee frequently is required to use hands to handle or feel, and also to reach with hands and arms. The employee is regularly required to stand and/or walk for extended periods of the workday. Must be able to lift up to 40 lbs.


  • The work environment characteristics described here are representative of those an employee encounters while performing the essential functions of this job.
  • Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.
  • Travel up to 30%


  • All relevant kitchen/food production equipment
  • Computer, fax, calculator, copier, phone.

Job Type: Full-time

Job Location:

  • San Antonio, TX

Required education:

  • Bachelor's

Required experience:

  • restaurant chain: 5 years
  • food manufacturing: 5 years
  • quality assurance: 5 years
  • commercialization: 5 years

Required language:

  • Spanish

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