Meet Chef Michael Slavin, VP Culinary & Menu Innovation at Houlihan’s Restaurant Support Center. FDR has worked with Chef Slavin on menu development projects among other things and we’re happy to share details of that project with you.

FDR: Why did you choose a career in the culinary world?

Michael: I was fortunate enough to work with two CIA grads at a country club when I was 15, and they pretty much sold me on a career as a chef with one catch: I had to attend the CIA.

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What brought you to Houlihan’s?

I live with my wife and three children in Kansas City, and after a six-year stint as Corporate Executive Chef with Applebee’s HQ based out of KC, the Houlihan’s opportunity fell into my lap. The timing was perfect and great since I was reunited with my former boss Mike Archer.

What’s new/exciting at Houlihan’s?

We work at a very fast pace and are constantly evolving with consumer shifts and emerging food trends. We have a spring LTO menu coming very soon and are rolling out a major bar and happy hour platform later this month.

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What do you see as the biggest food or beverage trend this year?

Plant-based proteins – primarily burgers.

What trend would you like to see more of?

Having gluten-free items on your menu that are thoughtful and inspired with the same pride as core menu items.

Best new restaurant or dish you’ve recently tried or made?

Pecan Smoked Prime Rib that I made in my test kitchen last week. It was glorious. My Shrimp & Andouille Frittata with salt-boiled potatoes, kale, onions, white cheddar, and chimichurri is a close second.

Can you share your best “chef hack”?

Add beer whenever possible to any recipe that calls for wine. Be smart about what style of beer you choose, just like you would wine. If done right, the dish will take on a distinct personality and be new and exciting to the cook and their guests.

To learn more about FDR’s work with Houlihan’s, read our recent project case study.

Thanks for stopping by and reading the Food & Drink Resources blog. Here we talk about food trends, culinary innovation, and the work of our team.