An instant hit with customers, the Loaded Baked Potato Pizza features Pizza Inn’s signature made-from-scratch dough; a ranch dressing base; a mozzarella, bacon, and cheddar mix; sliced potatoes; and a finishing sprinkle of chives when it comes fresh out of the oven.
The culinary sensation 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’ cuisines into one of the largest and most innovative test kitchens in America.
Chris Cuthbertson, of Greenville, South Carolina, 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. He can hardly believe 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 CEO of 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.”