The New York Post: There’s serious gastronomy that goes into your fast fo…

That rest-stop burger may have been flipped by a pimply teen, but it was conceived, tested and perfected by a classically trained chef.

Fast-food chains from Arby’s to Wendy’s are hiring top-tier cooks to run their corporate kitchens.

“You’d never assume that people like me are at the helm of Popeyes,” Amy Alarcon, an alum of a prestigious culinary school and high-end Atlanta kitchens, tells The Post. But there’s a reason big companies tap serious gourmets for the job: It takes a pro to devise crowd-pleasers that can be easily — and inexpensively — mass produced. “We marry the art and the science,” Alarcon says.

Here, toques of the fast-food world share their culinary secrets.

Best of cluck

After graduating from the Culinary Arts School in Atlanta, Alarcon was toiling in a swanky hotel restaurant kitchen when she was recruited by a corporate brand. “I had just done 16 days in a row of 12-plus hours,” says Alarcon. Burned out, she wanted a better work-life balance, so she accepted the job — to her then-boss’s horror. “He said, ‘Everything I taught you, and you go do fast food,’ ” says Alarcon, who has now been with Popeyes for a decade.

The mother of two whips up recipes for the chicken chain’s domestic and international locations, including its beloved Chicken Waffle Tenders. “I’m notorious for busting down meeting doors and saying, ‘I know you’re busy but shut up and eat this,’ ” says Alarcon. For inspiration, her team travels to foodie cities, including New Orleans, Seattle and Charleston, S.C. Recently, she ate her way through Brooklyn: “We loved Ugly Baby, Prime Meats and Wilma Jean.”

It’s ‘wichcraft

Arby’s, avant-garde? Believe it, says the chain’s executive chef, Neville Craw. “Molecular gastronomy has existed in our industry” — and in his kitchen — “for years,” the Atlanta resident tells The Post.

Take the chain’s Miami Cuban sandwich, a limited-time offering this past spring. Craw prepared the pork sous vide — a technique where food is sealed in a plastic bag and slowly cooked in a temperature-controlled bath. “It’s more accurate than cooking in the oven,” says Craw, who earned his chef whites at the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco before sharpening his knives at fancy restaurants there and in Boston.

To get ideas, Craw takes regular eat-a-thon research trips to New York delis, San Francisco sandwich spots and charcuterie shops. “I have a high metabolism, and we do a lot of tasting, not eating,” says the chef, who’s worked at Arby’s for 14 years. “Still, when you hit that 18th restaurant of the day, it becomes a challenge.”

Dairy king

“I love ice cream. I eat it every day, to be honest,” Dave Fenner tells The Post. He’d better: As Carvel’s head of research and development, Fenner’s spent the past six years mixing up new ice cream flavors, including Lemon Cookie, Cold Brew and Nutella.

Previously, Fenner attended top culinary school Johnson & Wales in Providence, R.I., and cooked up wild game and fish at Rhode Island’s now-shuttered historic Nathaniel Porter Inn. But today, he’s glad to be the most popular guy in his Atlanta office, which also houses the test kitchens for Cinnabon, Moe’s Southwest Grill and Schlotzsky’s. “If I create something that’s really tasty,” he says, “I grab every chef to try it. If it’s good, word goes through the building” — and a swarm of hungry employees descends.

Fenner is also a dogged dessert detective. For years, he’s been “hellbent” on figuring out what’s in the graham cracker crumbs in an Atlanta mom-and-pop scoop shop’s Key lime pie ice cream. “It’s to die for,” he says. His hard work has finally paid off: “We’re going to be featuring it this fall in a limited-offer apple pie ice cream.”

Sweet deal

Cinnabon chef Jennifer Holwill treats the sticky-sweet pastries like a fine bottle of merlot. “It’s almost like wine tasting — I spit it all out,” says Holwill, who trained at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. “I never eat an entire Cinnabon. It’s not for pleasure eating, it’s for analysis.”

Before landing at the mall stalwart, Holwill worked in Atlanta’s top kitchens and was the corporate chef at Ted’s Montana Grill. She’s been at Cinnabon for eight years now, concocting innovations such as the limited-edition Cookie BonBite: a cinnamon roll stuffed inside a chocolate chip cookie. “It was a fun treat, for sure,” she says.

But they’re not all tasty delights. “A few years ago, we played around with expanding our savory items. We made pizza buns, and we were dead serious about it,” says Holwill. Sadly, Cinnabon fans weren’t feeling it. “When they don’t like something, they let us know.”

Meat masters

Don’t call Wendy’s top gourmets burger-slingers. “We’re chefs working in a fast-food environment,” chef Marshall Scarborough tells The Post. He studied at Johnson & Wales and worked at Luxembourg’s Michelin-starred Léa Linster restaurant before heading to the Ohio headquarters of Wendy’s. There, he works with food scientist Lori Estrada to create comfort-food meals, such as the Smoky Mushroom Bacon Cheeseburger, which uses a decades-old recipe for mushroom aioli plucked from a New Orleans restaurant. “If we haven’t had 20,000 calories by lunchtime, it’s a slow day,” Scarborough jokes.

This report originally appeared on NYPost.com.

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