Pizza Inn, Inc. is celebrating National Pizza Month this October with a new item on its menu: the Loaded Baked Potato Pizza.
A hit with customers, the Loaded Baked Potato Pizza features made from scratch dough; a ranch dressing base; a mozzarella, bacon and cheddar mix; sliced potatoes and a finishing sprinkle of chives.
The item is also the winning recipe of Pizza Inn’s companywide 2010 Culinary Challenge – a contest unveiled this year that turned willing employees and franchise owners into one of the largest test kitchens in America.
Chris Cuthbertson, of Greenville, S.C., accepted the challenge and combined his love for the All-American baked potato with more than 10 years of knowledge about Pizza Inn’s menu. Cuthbertson, who began his career a decade ago as a dishwasher at Pizza Inn, admits he learned to cook at an early age. But he never entered a contest in his life, until now.
Over the years, Cuthbertson worked his way up to assistant manager, general manager and now serves as district manager over two locations in South Carolina. He also saw what worked on the menu with Pizza Inn’s customers.
“I love baked potatoes,” Cuthbertson says. “I thought to myself, why don’t we have a baked potato pizza?” With access to some savory ingredients and the ability to test recipes on the buffets in his stores, the experiment was set.
Today, Cuthbertson says he now averages 150 Loaded Baked Potato Pizzas a week on the buffets. The recipe also earned him a trip to the 2010 annual Pizza Inn Franchise
Convention in Grapevine, Texas, bragging rights as the contest winner and $1,000 in cash. His recipe is now served at all Pizza Inn stores.
“Nobody knows our customers and their taste buds better than team members like Chris who serve them every day,” says Charlie Morrison, president and chief executive of The Colony, TX-based Pizza Inn. “The culinary challenge was our way to honor that talent. And the success of the Loaded Baked Potato Pizza is proof that fantastic ideas can come from within.”