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The mad scientist of Smashburger

The mad scientist of Smashburger

Dressed to the nines, CEO Tom Ryan was all business at a Smashburger in Burnsville, Minnesota.

The mad scientist of Smashburger

The mad scientist of Smashburger

Behind the line, Tom Ryan’s true colors came out as he described the many little techniques and ingredients that add up to big flavor.

The mad scientist of Smashburger

The mad scientist of Smashburger

Tom Ryan became especially emotive when he described the science of the actual smashing of ground beef.

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Tom Ryan wasn't interested in being CEO of the Smashburger brand he co-founded in 2007, but as he rolls up in his BMW X6, impeccably dressed and with a full tank of confidence, it seems he was born ready for this role—and this interview. Ryan's impressive resume precluded his arrival at the restaurant. With a Ph.D. in flavor and fragrance chemistry and the inventions of the McGriddle and Stuffed Crust Pizza under his belt, he looked more like a flashy executive than a food science savant that's the bedrock of his career.

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Mother Nature didn't cooperate the last time I visited New Orleans. It didn't just rain, it poured, seemingly every time I left my hotel to explore the city. Even so, I still got a taste for the signature food, architecture and history of this amazing city. I also had the chance to pilot speedboats on the bayou and eat frogmore stew with Phil Robertson of transgender bathroom backlash fame—but that's another story altogether.

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As recent articles claim, Asian food is now the world's fastest growing category. With QSR players taking notice, namely Chipotle's fledgling ShopHouse chain, it's no stretch to predict that noodles are set to become a larger player in the American quick-service game.

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Jacob Tomsky, a former hotel employee, wrote a funny, revealing look at the soft underbelly of the hotel industry: “Heads in Beds: A Reckless …