How craveability, sustainability and the guest experience drive Avi Szapiro's menu mission

The VP of culinary innovation for Untamed Brands infuses fast-casual Taim and Hot Chicken Takeover with fine-dining details.

This episode of Menu Feed is brought to you by Tock.

As VP of culinary innovation at Untamed Brands, the parent company of fast-casual Taim Mediterranean Kitchen and Hot Chicken Takeover, Avi Szapiro brings years of fine-dining experience to the job.

He grew up in Bogota, Colombia, and thought he’d become a lawyer. But he caught the cooking bug as a teenager and never looked back.

Szapiro graduated from the CIA; worked in top restaurants and hotels in Latin America, Europe and California; operated his own highly rated restaurant in New Haven, Conn.; and cooked in volume for a nonprofit in India. Now, he’s excited about playing with the rich, varied flavors of the Eastern Mediterranean in developing craveable menus for 13-unit Taim and creating fresh, bold items for Hot Chicken Takeover.

 AVi Szapiro
Avi Szapiro

Sustainability is the three-pillar foundation of both concepts, with environmental, social and economic components all having equal weight in Szapiro’s vision. Listen as he talks about his menu mission, why he’s laser-focused on the guest experience and where Untamed may be going next as the company expands its fast-casual footprint.

Subscribe to Menu Feed on Apple Podcasts.

Subscribe on Spotify.

Members help make our journalism possible. Become a Restaurant Business member today and unlock exclusive benefits, including unlimited access to all of our content. Sign up here.


Exclusive Content


Yes, there is such a thing as too fast in the quick-service world

The Bottom Line: In a world of digital orders and drive-thrus, friendly service actually matters more than speed.


BK franchisee Carrols goes from tragedy to triumph

The big Burger King franchisee has overcome a pandemic, inflation, questions about its future and the death of multiple executives to become the industry’s best turnaround story of 2023.


Who's on your fantasy restaurant-management team?

Reality Check: Why bother with fantasy football when the ideal virtual C-suite is waiting to be picked? Here's my roster.


More from our partners