Taco-maker competes for fastest taco time

Jesse Batson

Jesse Batson

Nicole Herrig, assistant manager at Taco John’s, is the fastest taco-maker in the country.

At a national Taco John’s competition in 2002, Herrig prepared a four-part meal consisting of a hard shell taco, super nachos, potato oles and a chicken soft shell in 69 seconds.

This October, she plans to win that title again.

She’ll be timed locally by Taco John’s inspectors and then her score will be entered nationally, to determine the winner.

“It’s something that Taco John’s International does and they just prompted the managers of all the stores to get all their employees involved in the contest,” said the 23-year-old Herrig.

Herrig’s meal is graded on appearance in addition to the food preparation. She also had to answer 10 questions from the Taco John’s handbook.

The entire competition starts out with a simple store timing.

“First we do it in our store and one store person can go to regionals,” Herrig said.

The regional competition included competitors from the midwest, including Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota and Iowa.

“They timed us at regionals and awarded the top ten national winners from the regional results,” Herrig said.

Taco John’s awarded her the national championship, accompanied by a $500 prize based on the same 69-seconds time that Herrig achieved in the regional timing.

Due to the company’s change of plans, Herrig didn’t have to defend her title in 2003.

“They originally intended on doing it every year, but for 2003 they focused on a drive-thru contest that featured the entire store,” Herrig said.

So, is Herrig spending extra time practicing for the 2004 competition?

“Actually, I’m kind of slacking a little bit. I think I should probably be preparing a little bit more,” Herrig said.

Yet, Herrig states that some of the skills don’t require too much extra practice.

“The speed of it all just comes with every day making tacos,” Herrig said.

Herrig lives in Brookings with her husband and their son.