© Angelo Merendino

You’re holding a pretty special issue of the magazine.

It’s special to me, at least, and there are a few reasons for that.

For starters, and to avoid burying the lede, this issue’s Wendy’s cover story represents our first in-person visit to a food company since before the pandemic.

It felt good to get out again, and while the story isn’t one of the magazine’s more traditional facility visit cover stories, there’s a lot to learn from the way Wendy’s is devoted to quality, safety and teamwork.

“When we say, ‘Quality is Our Recipe,’ that’s more than a slogan that hangs on the door. It’s been part of Wendy’s since day No. 1,” Liliana Esposito, Wendy’s chief corporate affairs and sustainability officer, told me.

As an Ohio kid, it was pretty cool to get a peek behind the curtain at how the company, which is based just outside state capital Columbus, develops new products, tests them for safety and quality, and then deploys that out to more than 6,000 restaurants worldwide.

This issue also represents our former editor, Lisa Lupo, lending her voice to our From the Advisory Board column. While Lupo has written other stories in the magazine this year, her essay about researching the ins and outs of Canada’s food safety regulations after years of immersion in the Food Safety Modernization Act brings a wonderful personal touch to something we can all relate to.

“Just as you feel you have something fairly well down pat, something changes,” she wrote.

Finally, this is my sixth issue. One calendar year of Quality Assurance & Food Safety magazine is now filed in my personal archive of magazine’s I’ve made.

That’s six issues of a crash-course education about this industry. Six issues of the kind of stress that lets you know you’re on to something great. Six issues of working with talented writers and interviewing brilliant sources, who have forgotten more about food than I’ll ever know.

Making magazines is a bit like Chaos Theory in the way that even in the face of what seems like overwhelming disorder, there’s great beauty in the patterns that emerge as everything, of course, comes together in the end.

Put it another way, bless this mess.