Cammie Spillyards-Schaefer has been named executive chef and vice president for culinary and menu strategy at casual-dining chain Applebee’s, the operator said Tuesday.
Most recently vice president of research and development and innovation for Outback Steakhouse parent Bloomin’ Brands Inc., Spillyards-Schaeffer graduated with honors from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., owned two restaurants and was also director of product development for Chili’s Grill & Bar.
A spokeswoman for the company said Spillyards-Schaefer was filling a role that had been vacant for some time, although the 2,020-unit chain has other members on its culinary team.
The appointment comes shortly after Julia Stewart, CEO of parent company DineEquity Inc., announced plans to streamline Applebee’s menu and introduce new items.
"This is a pivotal moment for the Applebee's brand as we look to make important enhancements, and Cammie is essential to driving menu innovation," Applebee’s senior vice president for marketing and culinary Darin Dugan said in a press release. "With her creativity and deep understanding of consumer palates, she will ensure we are delivering incredible food prepared with care to our current guests and creating a reason for new guests to give us a try."
"Joining the Applebee's family is a tremendous opportunity," Spillyards-Schaefer said in the release. "One of the most amazing things about this brand is the ability to cook for and serve millions of people — we are feeding America! We not only have an opportunity to change the way guests feel about dining at Applebee's, but we also have the opportunity to influence the palate of the entire country. Knowing our work can impact so many people on that level is a huge motivation for me to ensure we're delivering the best food we can, from our culinary center to every Applebee's kitchen around the world."