Brand Assembles 12 Finalists from Across America for the Ultimate Chicken and Biscuit Throwdown
Houston, TX (RestaurantNews.com) Some of the best cooks from Church’s Chicken® company and franchise restaurants competed with fire and flair at the Excellence in Leadership Conference (ELC) in Houston, Texas. The contest’s 12 contestants came from all corners of the United States. Each were selected to participate in the brand’s second annual Master Chicken Chef and first annual Master Biscuit Baker contest, a big cookout during the ELC. The contest included five judges and 12 contestants from across Church’s national family of restaurants. The 12 cooks – six Master Chicken Chef contestants and six competing for Master Biscuit Baker – were flown to Houston for the conference, received recognition throughout the event and earned prizes for their participation.
“Last year’s Master Chef contest was such a great success for the brand that we knew almost immediately we’d be bringing it to the conference again this year,” said Felicia White, Senior Director of Training and Development at Church’s Chicken. “Incorporating biscuit baking as an aspect of the contest is a decision new to this year. It was very important to us to take advantage of the chance to add a new dynamic to the Master Chef competition and showcase even more signature Church’s menu items identified with the brand.”
Long before the ELC, contestants became qualified for competition by going through the Church’s Chicken PhD certification process. The cooks took tests and completed in-person evaluations during which they were recorded and scored on their bone-in chicken and boneless tenders cooking procedures. A separate PhD certification for biscuit bakers was conducted to evaluate each cook’s skills in baking Church’s signature Honey-Butter Biscuits™. The certified cooks were then considered to be part of the group that would go on to the ELC to compete.
“We received more than 200 qualified submissions from across the country for this year’s ultimate chicken and biscuit throwdown. These cooks have mastered the art of delivering the quality flavor Church’s is known for, proving their mastery by going through our PhD programs,” continued White. The selected 12 contestants, who are active cooks at Church’s restaurants and some of the best cooks of the brand, were taken off the schedule so that they could further perfect their skills before heading to the conference.
The complete list of 12 cooking heroes included: Greg Cantu of San Benito, TX; Jordan Coronel of El Paso, TX; Clarence Reed of Monroe, LA; Silvia Martinez of Houston, TX; Amadeo Longoria of San Antonio, TX; Charlie Thomas of Greensboro, AL; Olaide Williams of Albany, GA; Kate Hardy of Birmingham, AL; Julisa Cano of Chicago, IL; Emily Deleon of Corpus Christi, TX; Mattie Kimble of Jackson, MS; and Angel Pita of Phoenix, AZ.
“We have very specific procedures that must be followed when making our chicken and biscuits in restaurants,” said White. “They hit every step according to the brand standards – how we bread the chicken, the way we place it in the fryer. The Honey-Butter Biscuit ingredients are added together and mixed a certain way, and judges account for the quality of both products once they’re finished.”
Each chef’s finished product was graded on appearance and taste. Greg Cantu of San Benito received the contest’s highest score and became the new reigning Church’s Master Chicken Chef. He was crowned during the gala awards dinner with a $1,000 cash prize. Mattie Kimble of Jackson received the highest score and became the first every Master Biscuit Baker. The second-place winners, Sylvia Martinez of Houston and Angel Pita of Phoenix also received cash prizes, and all other participants were recognized at the dinner and received $250 cash prizes. Contestants were also highlighted throughout the conference with special ribbons on their name badges and VIP seating in all the conference’s sessions.
“We’re thrilled about the contest participation we’ve seen year over year. All the contestants have had such a great time with the contest. We couldn’t be prouder of their dedication to developing their skills,” added White. “All our participants are winners in our book, which makes the whole experience a definite win for the brand.”
About Church’s Chicken®
Founded in San Antonio, TX in 1952 by George W. Church, Church’s Chicken® is one of the largest quick-service restaurant chicken chains in the world. Church’s® specializes in Original and Spicy Chicken freshly prepared throughout the day in small batches that are hand-battered and double-breaded, Tender Strips®, Honey-Butter Biscuits™ made from scratch and freshly baked, and classic, homestyle sides all for a great value. Church’s® (along with its sister brand Texas Chicken® outside the Americas) has more than 1,500 locations in 25 countries and international territories and system-wide sales of more than $1 billion. For more information, visit www.churchs.com. Follow Church’s® on Facebook at www.facebook.com/churchschicken and Twitter at www.twitter.com/churchschicken.