Updated on July 22, 2022 | September 8, 2021
Take a peek behind the scenes to see our team's process from ideation to implementation for our all new breakfast!
Get to know Casey's Head Chef and Culinary Expert (and creator of the fan-favorite Loaded Breakfast Burrito!)
1 Year with Casey's
Chef Farrokh lived in Seattle, Colorado, and Alaska before moving to Iowa.
My dad was an attorney, but he was also an amazing cook, and my grandmother was an amazing cook too. When my dad was in his law office, I hung out with my grandma, watching her cook and just kind of tugging on her apron strings throughout the day. She was my inspiration, and then watching a male figure do that as well, eventually it hit me that I wanted to do something like that.
Way back in the 80s, I was going to college to be an engineer, I thought that was the path chosen for me. To pay for tuition, I got a restaurant job and that kind of took off. Then I went to culinary school soon after, and it just became a career. I love my job, love it.
"I love working with guests, just being able to hang out there by the warmer, chit chat with them. I mean, that’s who I’m doing this all for."
That's what I love about my job, there aren't two days that are alike! All last week, for example, I was in Chicago supporting a photo shoot, but this week it's completely different. But I would say, 90% of the time I'm working in the Culinary Innovation Center, our kitchen where we work on all the new products for our guests. And I also have to get caught up on all the admin work, emails and such – that's my least favorite part of the job [laughs]
It really goes back to our partnership with our guest insights team, to understand where the gaps are and what can be improved for our guests.
The new products also go through a lot of testing so that we know we got it right, including from our own team members who work hard every day to provide for our guests. They give some great, real feedback, and what they said to me helped make our new products what they are today.
Guest feedback is ultimately the most important thing for us, too. I don't have the chance to interact with guests quite as often as I'd like, but when I do, I love working with guests, just being able to hang out there by the warmer, chit chat with them. I mean, that's who I'm doing this all for.
Inspiration just comes from all around us, you know? My wife and I may go to dinner one night and another chef in town has got something that just inspires me. It may have nothing to do with Casey's, nothing to do with pizza even, but it just could be a particular flavor that you're like, ‘hey, wow, that could be good for a sandwich or a drizzle on top of pizza.’I get a lot of inspiration from hole-in-wall places and ethnic foods especially.
This product is unique compared to our other breakfast items, because it didn't exist before; it kind of came out of the blue. The challenge has always been, what else can we do with our made-from-scratch dough, right? Guests love it, our team members have worked with that dough plenty of times, so what else can we do with it?
One particular day, I had a different version of it that would basically look like pita bread. I created a pocket in this circle of dough and then stuffed it with goodies, and then my colleagues and I tried it, and we loved it. From there, it turned into a sort of panini, and even was something like a stuffed pizza for a time, but we wanted it to be something different from pizza, something new. So with both direction from data and my own personal inspiration, a nice combination of the two, it became what you see in stores today.
I'm a huge morning person, first and foremost; my quiet time is in the morning. And sunrises trump sunsets for me, especially when I lived in Colorado, watching the sunrise was just pretty cool. So breakfast or brunch has got to be one of my favorite meals for sure.
The meal I enjoy most, though, is the meal that I get to enjoy with my wife, which on the weeknights is dinner. But on the weekends, yeah, it's gotta be breakfast where we're making it together. My favorite meal is the one that I get to enjoy with other people, whether it's a gathering of a few friends, or with a family member, that's the one.
"My favorite meal is the one that I get to enjoy with other people"
Pepperoni, definitely, I'm just a purist when it comes to that!
That's always a point of contention at my house [laughs]. Especially the dishes, if I cook, there's dishes created, and it's like ‘hey, there's no dishwasher to clean up after you here' and I'm like, ‘yes, honey’ [laughs again].
But you know, for the most part, my job is to cook at least 2 weeknights. My wife, Angela, I mean she works hard and gets home around the same time I do, so she's really good at cooking, but I do need to cook a couple times a week.
I love coffee, and I'm a huge dark roast coffee guy. I don't like flavored coffee or sweet coffee. I just do black. I love a great cup of coffee in the morning with my breakfast, that's the best. Hot shower and coffee, those are my two things!