Culinary Quips

Chef Huddleston Interview Cont...

PizzaQ: What are 5 ingredients you couldn't live without (besides basics)?
A: Cheese, Cured Meats, Pickled Vegetables, Fresh Herbs, Fruit

Q: What is your favorite type of cuisine?
A: Regional American. The expanse and diversity of our country produces a world view of cuisine. Sometimes referred to as "American Fusion" cuisine, the variations are numerous and each regional cuisine is defined by a distinctive style. I have had the pleasure of living in several regions including the Southeast and Midwest. With my current work-related travel I enjoy all of the region's offerings throughout the year.

Q: What was your favorite menu item to test and what cooking platforms did you use for the solutions?
A: Pizza. It is fun and challenging all at once.  It is a complex food item with many variables encompassing fresh and par-baked doughs, crisp or tender textures, cheeses, meats and vegetable toppings, along with many regional preferences, etc. I have cooked pizza for many customers over the years in our Lincoln conveyers, Merrychef ovens, Convotherm ovens and then held it in our Merco hot holding products. Each customer's pizza is different, but we apply our learnings from each situation to arrive at a solution for their speed-of-service (SOS)/capacity and quality criteria.

Q: What was your latest project you worked on that impacted process and workflow for the end user. What was the objective/problem to solve?
A: Numerous customers are looking at smaller footprints, labor efficiencies and smart cooking equipment in part or all in one package. One particular project targeted faster, higher quality output of sandwiches. The Merrychef platforms are ideal for this type of application objective as they can be installed virtually anywhere in the kitchen as a retrofit. Speed of service and high quality food are just two of the hallmarks of the Merrychef ovens. New builds and remodels capitalizing on this Advanced Oven quickly realize improved ticket times and guest satisfaction, consistent food preparation, cost and quality. So as a result of this project, the customer was successful in improving ticket times by 50% and receiving much improved scores on quality. Merrychef-Good Food Faster!

Q: What was the most challenging project you took on for a client, and what was the outcome?
A: Recently, we engaged a casual dining operator introducing a number of Manitowoc products, including Garland, Convotherm, Merrychef, Merco and Lincoln. From this list, Merrychef, Convotherm and Merco rose to the top to tackle their hot food initiatives. Early challenges in the project centered on proving the Merrychef would deliver quality, speed of service and capacity during peak hours at high-volume stores. Other challenges arose in the retro-fit specifically around placement of the Merrychef and plumbing for the Convotherm. The Merco Holding Cabinet was tasked with holding items prepared in advance on the grill to improve ticket times. These Manitowoc platforms have performed well and met the success criteria of the customer. The sales cycle can be protracted and in 2012 we will continue testing at the store level and finalizing rollout plans for the coming years.

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