WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Biscuit-making at Bojangles’ isn’t as easy as one-two-three, but rather a 48-step process, according to the Winston-Salem Journal.
At the restaurant chain’s 2014 Master Biscuit Maker Challenge, Bojangles’ employees Travis Squire of Winston-Salem and Edith Chavez of Yadkinville nailed those steps as they prepared made-from-scratch buttermilk biscuits.
Both contestants used a pinch of their own flare and dedication to win the title of Master Biscuit Maker.
No, Squire and Chavez didn’t tie as champions.
Squire, a biscuit maker at the Bojangles’ at 1535 Peters Creek Parkway in Winston-Salem, was named the top winner for the restaurant chain’s company restaurants. Chavez, a biscuit-maker at the Bojangles’ at 624 S. State St. in Yadkinville, was the champion for all Bojangles’ franchised locations.
“I couldn’t sleep the night before the competition,” Chavez said.
Then when she won, Chavez couldn’t sleep because she was too excited.
For Squire, winning was a surreal moment.
“I didn’t know whether to cheer, or cry or what,” he said.
The competition is an annual event. In 2014, the challenge began in August with individual restaurant teams, of which the best from each of more than 600 Bojangles’ restaurants advanced to area competitions. Winners then went to the regional level, and from there to the final round.
On Nov. 12 and 13, the best from each of Bojangles’ company and franchise regions faced off in the final round at the Bojangles’ test kitchen in Charlotte.
The 17 contenders made a batch of biscuits that was judged by a panel of Bojangles’ staff members. The judges considered the precision with which the Bojangles’ 48-step recipe is followed, size and shape of the biscuits and the time it took to complete the recipe without sacrificing quality.
Squire and Chavez each received a Master Biscuit Maker trophy, a cash prize of $2,500, and a Master Biscuit Maker hat, apron and nametag. They will also train other biscuit makers.
The champions, whose work day typically starts at 4 a.m., are modest about their accomplishments.
Squire, who is 29 and single, started working as a cook for Bojangles’ in 2004. He has worked in 11 Bojangles’, primarily in the Triad but also out of state. He received two medals during the 2008 competition, but this is the first time he came away a champion.
“There are really no tips to making good biscuits,” Squire said. “Practice makes perfect.”
He said he follows the Bojangles’ biscuit recipe procedure and believes that the more biscuits people make, the better they get at making them.
Ben Boyd, an area director for Bojangles’, described Squire as a good-natured person.
“He has customers who come in looking for him,” Boyd said. “He does his best to please not only the guests but also the other team members, to motivate those guys to be as good as him.”
He said that Squire works multiple stations throughout the day because he is so good at what he does and has taught other employees how to make biscuits the way he makes them.
Boyd said that the competition last month was really intense because other area directors attended with their top biscuit makers.
A long glass window allows people, including area directors and senior level management at Bojangles’, to see into the test kitchen.
“Some of the area directors were giving Travis such a hard time, trying to get him nervous,” Boyd said. “So as he was coming down the long hall way, they were making faces and making comments. One of the finer moments, for me, was when Travis entered into the test kitchen. One of the area directors was banging on the window. So Travis just turned around and stuck his tongue out at her and said, ‘I’m going to do this.’”
Chavez, 44, is originally from Mexico. She has been working for Bojangles’ in Yadkinville since she moved to the Triad in 2002. She is married to Claudio Solrazo and has a 10-year-old daughter, Karla.
While she does a lot of cooking at home, Chavez didn’t really make biscuits until she joined Bojangles’.
She makes an estimated 1,500 biscuits a day at work.
“I like to make the biscuits, and I do the best that I can,” Chavez said. “Because when the people come in, they say that they like the biscuits. That is good for me. I feel happy.”
Her special touch to biscuit-making is TLC.
“I put some love in the biscuits,” she said laughing. “I try to do everything that the people show me — the store managers and the food-training people.”
David Trivette, a Bojangles’ area director, said that Chavez’s biscuit-making stands out because of her passion for her job.
“She really cares genuinely what the customers think of her product,” David Trivette said. “She puts all of her heart into the process and just tries her best ever day that she’s here to make sure that she’s got the best product available for the customer.”
He said that Chavez uses the right amount of flour when she makes biscuits.
“Even though a biscuit is made of flour, too much flour will kill the taste of a biscuit and kill the quality of a biscuit,” David Trivette said. “She has to make sure that she’s using the correct amount and that she is following the Bojangles’ procedure that is set in place.”
Jacob Trivette, a unit director at the restaurant in Yadkinville, said that Chavez sets a good example for other employees.
“They look up to her,” Jacob Trivette said. “She’s hardly ever sick. She’s always here on time. She’s always willing to help. So we’re really pleased to have her here.”
So after making biscuits for a living, are the champs big biscuit-eaters?
“Yeah, I like them,” Chavez said laughing, “but I like it better for the customers to eat them.”
Squire also laughed.
“I love biscuits, but from time-to-time, I don’t want to push the weight limit,” he said.