The Tasting Panel magazine

Nov 09

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fit my own sense of purpose," he adds. But the sense of excellence comes from the top: Cheesecake Factory founder and CEO David Overton was Greene's true inspiration. "When I moved into a management role, I couldn't resist the opportunity to create a bigger and better beverage program. David was on board." Greene moved to the corporate office in Calabasas Hills, northwest of Los Angeles, as the Corporate Bever- age Manager. "The spirit of creativity is at the core of our beverage program," he says proudly. "It's at the core of our company. It's all about choice; every guest gets to choose exactly what they want, and everything—even the most basics—needs to be exceptional. David is always asking, 'Can it be better?' We're never satisfied; this kind of commitment leaves us restless, but at the same time, fills us with pride." The Beverage & Bakery Team Heather Berry Part of The Cheesecake Factory family for 14 years, Heather Berry was formerly an Area Director over- seeing eight restaurants. When Russell Greene was promoted to Senior Vice President last year, she filled his former Beverage and Bakery Operations executive position. "Heather was one of the finest General Man- agers and Area Directors in our company," Greene tells THE TASTING PANEL. "She was known for her unpar- alleled depth of knowledge and passionate standards of excellence. She was the perfect choice to lead the department." "Those were big shoes to fill," laughs Berry,whose expertise on-location has given her the insight to know which programs will work and which may wilt. "Russell maintains the title of research and development master. He's the one with the amazing palate. My task is to work with him side-by-side, taste test every day and then take the programs to the restaurants and implement them. I didn't believe it when he stuffed blue cheese into an olive for the first time. But now we know how that turned out!" Matt Raftree Originally hired 14 years ago as a bartender in Chi- cago/Hancock—The Cheesecake Factory's 12th loca- tion—Matt Raftree worked his way up to the role of cor- porate trainer. He met Russell Greene when he opened the Denver location in 1997. From there, he kept moving up. Last year he was promoted to his current position as Senior Manager, Beverage & Bakery Operations. His strength lies in his extensive history of bar opera- tions. "It's easy for me to relate to the staff and help cre- ate tools that are easily adaptable behind the bar." Raftree deals with distributors and vendors almost every day. "When a product gets added, it has a 99 per- cent chance of getting on the national core list," he says. "If that brand isn't already on the map, we'll help put it there." Matt is known for his tremendous dedication and versatility. Phil Adler Every day, Phil Adler presents new cocktail recipes to the team. In their own bar at the Calabasas head- quarters, the research and development process is a continuous task—requiring great creativity and tenacity. Adler heads up the process, coordinating all tastings and recipes, leveraging his team of Cheesecake Factory mixologists to develop the best-tasting, most up-to- trend drinks with the freshest ingredients. Jeff Wiley With 21 years behind him at The Cheesecake Factory, Jeff Wiley has concocted many of the cocktails that have made the grade. Based at the Redondo Beach location, Wiley comes up to taste the team on his new recipes. A new flavored rum or vodka may inspire him to create a Wiley masterpiece. He is best known for one drink that has his name on it: JW's Pink Lemonade has been on the menu for the past 17 years. As the R&D Specialist, Phil Adler is TCF's Corporate Mixologist. Matt Raftree is TCF's Senior Manager, Beverage & Bakery Operations. Heather Berry, Director of Beverage & Bakery. Jeff Wiley, TCF Master Mixologist. november 2009 / the tasting panel /  59

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