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Chef Brian Murphy Executive Development Chef, Bob Evans Restaurants

Kraft on Craft

Chef Brian Murphy takes the Kraft Challenge

Executive Development Chef, Bob Evans Restaurants

A chef at a family restaurant chain finds inspiration with Kraft.

Bob Evans has been serving up down-on-the-farm favorites for nearly 40 years. Homestyle meals are its trademark. Its core market leans toward the 55-and-over crowd, but it also reaches out to a younger demographic. One of the mandates for Brian Murphy, executive development chef for this 571-unit chain, is to balance innovation with expectation. Internal research has illustrated that the customer base at Bob Evans is loyal and wants the menu to stay close to its roots. "Our partners at Kraft Foodservice help us stretch the boundaries of our customers' comfort zones," says Chef Murphy.

We challenged Chef Murphy to create a festive recipe using a Kraft product. He came back to us with a myriad of product use in a holiday meal - from his wonderfully homey slow-roasted chicken set off by a seasonal-fruit compote to his creamy potatoes au gratin and roasted winter vegetables.

"This dish fits our holiday menu perfectly," says Chef Murphy. "It's comfort food dressed up for the season."

Operation Stats: Bob Evans - 571 restaurants nationwide - 3 day parts served - $ 1.7 billion company sales

Creating a Winning Dish

"Developing a holiday menu is so important," he says. "Customers look to you for extra-special dishes that relay tradition, comfort and seasonality." For the slow-roasted chicken, he made a compound butter featuring black pepper, Grey Poupon Country Dijon Mustard and orange marmalade spread both under and over the skin. "The flavors seeped into the chicken giving it a beautiful profile," says Chef Murphy.

To add more seasonality and color to the dish, he tossed carrot, red onion, parsnip and turnip in Kraft Golden Italian dressing, and then roasted them until tender. "The dressing has a great combination of garlic, red pepper and spices that works really well with the sweet root vegetables," he says. He also created sinfully delicious potatoes au gratin using Kraft 100% Grated Parmesan Cheese and Kraft Chedasharp, and then added a crunchy note with crushed Ritz crackers, baked until brown and bubbly.

"The Kraft cheeses give me outstanding flavor and consistency," says Chef Murphy. "They both have a pleasing sharpness to them that works well in a gratin."

Behind the Chef

Chef Murphy loves his job. He thrives on teamwork—an essential component at such a large company. "I view our suppliers as part of our team," he says. "They help us define what products need to be tested and featured. With the help of great suppliers like Kraft, we can put forward an outstanding menu."

"I get tremendous satisfaction out of seeing our customers enjoy the food. But I also love seeing the passion that our unit employees show cooking for and serving our guests. We take great pride in being the home of homestyle. That, to me, indicates we're doing it right."

Chef Murphy Unplugged

Bob Evans is a natural fit for this chef, who grew up watching his mother and grandmother prepare homestyle food. "My passion comes from my memories of great family dinners and the love and caring felt around the dinner table," says Chef Murphy. "I see that eroding from our lives, and I truly value it. Seeing our customers derive that same pleasure from our food is really gratifying."

Chef Murphy's crêpe recipe

Try this low-fat interpretation of a delicious crêpe featuring apples, cranberries, cherries and peaches, plus an ingenious combination of Philadelphia Neufchatel Cheese and low-fat yogurt.

Get this recipe

Here are a few highlights from our interview with Chef Murphy:

KRAFT:

If you were sent to a desert island, what 3 ingredients would you take with you?

MURPHY:

Asparagus, muscovy duck, butter.

KRAFT:

What is your favorite kitchen tool?

MURPHY:

Sauté pan and tongs.

KRAFT:

Where was the last place you dined?

MURPHY:

Marcella's in Columbus, Ohio.

KRAFT:

What is your favorite Kraft product?

MURPHY:

Oscar Mayer bacon. We take great pride in our breakfast meats offered at Bob Evans, and we truly think that Oscar Mayer is the best bacon in the business.

What's Next for Chef Brian Murphy?

Bob Evans recently completed its culinary roundtables from six major suppliers. Chef Murphy will be conducting follow-up recipe work from the findings of those roundtables.

Slow-roasted chicken
Slow-roasted chicken
Chef Murphy – Bob Evans