Current Job Description: My responsibilities as Senior VP include purchasing, marketing, research and development, as well as the role of Corporate Chef. I have a great team and this is all about the food so I continue to hang on to the chef role in addition to my other duties. Career Highlights: My mentor took me to the Menu Masters awards every year and one time he whispered to me, “You will win this one day.” In 2011 I won this award and this one has meant the most to me. A great honor for our organization was the COEX Culinary Innovation Award back in 2012. I am also honored to be the new Vice President of the ICCA. Describe a perfect day at work: A day I don’t have to put on my little red fire hat! But really a perfect day for me is coming in at 5:30 very early and setting up my day and then going out into the field to work in the kitchen and spend time with our operators. We teach them the “what” and the “how” but I like to teach them the “why” as well. Such as why a new dish works on our menu and for our customer base or why we use a certain technique is executing something. Describe one day you have had this past week: I’ll describe tomorrow because Thursdays are one of my favorite days. I will come in at 5:30am as usual to line up the day and Thursdays are always kitchen day. We are working on a new soup program right now and tomorrow we are doing a “1st cutting” of two cream soups and one broth soup. My team and I will prepare these for what we like to call “Grandma Research”. We invite 50 all members of the staff to come to the kitchen, test the product, and perform a survey. Our staff here knows a lot about the culinary side so while their responses are not final say, it is a great gauge for our next steps. I will wrap up the afternoon with a vendor meeting and then end the day with a culinary staff meeting to discuss our testing and next steps. Describe your biggest success in menu development: There are three items on Shari’s menu that I we developed that have done extremely well and have become our signature items we’re known for. Our number one seller are the Stuffed Hashbrowns, the inside is full of cheddar cheese and sour cream and the outside is finished with bacon and scallions. My absolute favorite are the Pie Shakes. We take a whole piece of pie and blend it into a milkshake. The other is our Cinnama-sation items, particularly the French toast. It is a combination of cinnamon and sugar with caramel and candied pecans then topped with whipped cream. What was your worst failure in menu development? My Fresh Peach Cream-cheese Pie. Everyone has a different idea of what a fresh peach is so some customers felt the peaches were too ripe while others thought they weren’t ripe enough. Also the peach glaze we used to toss the fresh peaches in would become watery after 2-3 hours of sitting. When done correctly this pie was delicious but unfortunately the execution didn’t work on the restaurant level. Describe an idea you believed in, but somehow it did not make the cut: Beignets. The product tested great and we developed three different flavors. Guests that ordered them loved them but from the marketing side we couldn’t figure out how to successfully promote them, the audience was too narrow. We tried introducing them in different day-parts and even tried them as an appetizer but eventually they came off the menu. Describe the product you’ve had the most fun introducing: The Pie Shakes. The presentation is fun, they are served in a traditional tulip glass in a stainless steel holder with an extra-large Boba style straw to accommodate the pie pieces. When a server takes an order for a milkshake I love the reaction of guests when the server explains the pie shake. You can pick any one of our pies and we take a whole slice and blend it into the milkshake. The other day I saw a group of kids drinking chocolate shakes and I said, “You can’t drink chocolate milkshakes here!” I came back with a round of my favorite, Smore’s Galore Pie Shakes for them. I love seeing the smiles on their faces. What new trends or fads do you see on the horizon? Cheese. People want different textures, more varieties, different presentations, and are wanting to explore goat cheeses and sheep’s milk cheeses in addition to cow cheeses. I am wanting to develop cheesy arancini balls for the menu, that’s my next project. What are your hobbies? I am a Harley rider, that’s a huge passion of mine. Another hobby of my wife and I is every week we try a new restaurant in the area. I am also a wine collector and every year I go on an Alaskan fishing trip. Describe the best meal you have ever experienced: In this industry we are so fortunate to have so many great experiences and also with the ICCA we get to experience some amazing meals. It is hard to narrow it down but one meal does stand out, probably because of the company and I believe the company you are with really makes the meal memorable. It was my 25th anniversary and my wife and I were in Paris. We met up for dinner with one of my best friends who happen to be there as well. Six of us ate at the oldest restaurant in Paris, Auberg Nicolas Flamel. Every dish had such a unique presentation down to the individual plateware. The presentation of each dish was perfect and the multiple flavors and layers of each dish was exceptional. What is the most interesting trip you have taken and why? Hands down Barcelona. The La Bocaria is such an amazing place, it’s an open market that has been in existence since the 1200’s. Any ingredient you can think of can be found here. The only downside was I couldn’t bring everything home to cook with. The Con Gracia restaurant was also one of the best meals I’ve ever had. What is your favorite culinary destination? Barcelona! Describe the contents in your refrigerator at home: There is always arugula, almond milk, fresh fruit, and light fruit yogurts (they make me feel healthy) J. There is also the junkie flavored creamers that my girls like, I think right now it’s some kind of pumpkin spice. There is always cheese too, some of my go-to’s are old Amsterdam aged Goudas. I typically don’t drink white wines but there is something about a glass of Pinot Grigio with an aged Gouda that has the crystallization. My other go-to cheese is Humboldt Fog. As far as wines, we drink red table wines during the week such as Italian’s or G3 from Walla Walla, but on the weekend we like to splurge and dig into my several hundred bottle wine collection. Every Saturday we host a group of friends for a dinner party, for years this has been our regular Saturday thing. At 6 we start with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, by 8 we serve dinner, and at 9 we have dessert.