What does a commissary production manager do, exactly?
I develop our seasonal menus. Sometimes I brainstorm in the pastry department, but mostly I plan the cuisine we serve.
When did you get your start as a culinary brainstormer?
In the second grade. My specialty was mini pizzas made from Pillsbury biscuit dough that I'd roll out by hand, and then for a topping I'd punch mini pepperonis from Oscar Mayer lunchmeat using bottle caps. I was a self-taught cook until 1997, when I attended the Art Institute Culinary School.
Are Oscar Mayer products still a source of inspiration?
Not lately, although I do like to mix things up. A few summers ago I took a drawer full of liquor and turned it into a line of cocktail cupcakes, like mojito cupcakes and piña colada cupcakes. They were a big hit.
What are you working on for the spring menu?
I'm creating a potato-salad sandwich. My sister-in-law was recently served one from a European friend of hers, and she raved about it to me. It rekindled a memory I had of a similar sandwich in Taiwan, where I was raised. They had potato sandwiches everywhere there, and I loved them. I thought, "Of course!" Our potato-salad sandwich will feature peas, artisan-cured Vande Rose ham, and a little leaf lettuce on a plain croissant. My guinea pigs all loved it; I'm hoping our customers will love it, too—or at least give it a shot.
When does the new spring menu debut?
May 15, and it'll be heavy on asparagus!