Meet Alex – ChiliHead, Sous Chef, and creator of Alex’s Santa Fe Burger. Alex has been a part of the Chili’s brand for over 20 years, and his story is one that we’re proud to tell.
When we first met Alex, he was working at a popular fast food chain while his uncle worked in the Heart of House at Chili’s – Firewheel in Garland, Texas. His uncle needed a ride to work, and being the dependable nephew that Alex is, he volunteered to drive his uncle to his shift at Chili’s. Alex was dropping his uncle off at the restaurant when his uncle took a shot in the dark and asked his GM if Alex could get a job at Chili’s, too. The next words that came of out the GM’s mouth completely changed the trajectory of Alex’s life.
“Here’s an apron – the answer is yes!”
Alex was hired on the spot and would spend the next 20 years falling in #ChilisLove with our brand.
After that memorable first day, Alex worked at Chili’s – Firewheel for 3 years before moving to Chili’s – PLBJ in Dallas, Texas where he would spend another 14 years. During this time, he also joined our Corporate Training team and helped open 10 new Chili’s restaurants across the country. In 2014, Alex eagerly started a new chapter in his #ChilisGrow journey when he joined the Culinary team at the Restaurant Support Center (RSC).
Now, Alex – or Chef Alex as we like to call him – supports our brand as a Sous Chef and spends most of his time in the Chili’s Test Kitchen experimenting with new recipes and testing menu innovations. And it’s here where Alex’s Santa Fe Burger was brought to life.
So, we pulled Alex out of the Test Kitchen because we just had to know… How did you come up with this mouth-watering burger? And what has it meant to be a ChiliHead for the past 20 years? He was proud to tell us.
What was your inspiration for Alex’s Santa Fe Burger?
I started my #ChilisGrow journey in the Heart of House, and one of the best things about being a Heart of House Team Member at Chili’s is getting to make your own lunch in the restaurant! The menu can get a little boring when you’re cooking and eating the same things every day, so I’ve always had fun trying out new recipes and experimenting with different flavor combinations.
When I joined the RSC team, I got to be involved with menu innovation and the feedback process that goes into creating and selecting new items for our menu. Through the process, I’ve been able to share my ideas and was able to have some of my burgers considered alongside other innovations that we were testing for our Ultimate Burger lineup. My Santa Fe burger was up against almost 100 different burgers and somehow made it through four rounds of cuts and onto our national menu. And now my name is on the menu, too! It’s pretty cool.
What has it been like to watch our brand grow and change over the years?
It’s exciting! It’s so much easier for Team Members to make Guests feel special today than it was 20 years ago. When I first started, we used paper tickets to ring in orders and now everything is digital! I really like the way we’ve incorporated technology into both our restaurant operations and our Guest experience. Without technology, we might get left behind! But, Chili’s has stepped up to the plate and paved the way for other restaurants to follow suit.
What does #ChilisLove mean to you?
To live with passion. To make people feel special.
What’s your favorite Chili’s menu item? (Besides your burger, of course!)
Cajun Chicken Pasta
Alex, we thank you for bringing your passion and creativity to our team. We couldn’t be more proud to have your name (and burger!) on our menu.
Do you know a ChiliHead who deserves a shout-out? Send your stories to ChilisJobs@brinker.com for a chance to be featured in an upcoming blog!