Shane Schaibly, corporate chef of First Watch, a breakfast, lunch and brunch chain based in Bradenton, Fla., with more than 435 locations, is always busy innovating, as a seasonal menu is rolled out every 10 weeks. This dish, introduced last August, was an omelet filled with red wine-braised beef short ribs, roasted shallots and cremini mushrooms, spinach and mozzarella cheese. It was topped with Parmesan cream sauce, parsley and chives and served with lemon-dressed mixed greens and ciabatta toast, and it showed how Schaibly and his team can use ingredients usually reserved for dinner to draw customers earlier in the day. It was priced at around $14, depending on the location.
“That one was especially challenging,” he said of the omelet. “We talked about how far can we push the envelope at breakfast and brunch from a high-dollar protein standpoint.”
He said getting higher prices for crab or lobster at brunch is a typical approach, “but we really wanted to look at a heartier, red meat center-of-the-plate protein that you would normally see at dinnertime.”
One impetus for that was First Watch CEO Chris Tomasso, who Schaibly said is a big short-rib fan and wanted to do something with it.
“I pushed back for years,” Schaibly said. “I said it’s too inconsistent, it would be way too variable at the restaurant level for us to execute. We didn’t have alcohol at the time, and if you’re going to do it you have to do a red wine braise. I had all these excuses. I guess finally I decided to just figure it out.”
He ended up working with one of his suppliers that was expert at cooking in sous-vide, and after 13-15 iterations, “we finally nailed it,” Schaibly said.
“The choice to put it in an omelet first was an easy one, because omelets are a familiar form. You can take this awesome center-of-the-plate protein and start to add more familiar ingredients — spinach, house-roasted mushrooms and shallots — they all go together.
And putting them in an omelet made them even more approachable, he said.
“It’s one of those really hearty, comforting dishes that just landed perfectly for our fall seasonal LTO,” he added. “I think it is one of those things that differentiates us from other breakfast players.”
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