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How Pizza Hut perfects the art of slicing pizza

/ 01:33 AM December 18, 2015
2015 YRI CHAMPS CHALLENGE Members of the winning Pizza Hut team are (from left) Von Ryan Eddun, Mark Joseph Villanueva, Tomas Pulido, Erica Casteneda, Al Guilermo, Exceniza Pineda, Johara Rose Gonzales and Lady Joy Campos. ROMY HOMILLADA

2015 YRI CHAMPS CHALLENGE Members of the winning Pizza Hut team are (from left) Von Ryan Eddun, Mark Joseph Villanueva, Tomas Pulido, Erica Casteneda, Al Guilermo, Exceniza Pineda, Johara Rose Gonzales and Lady Joy Campos. ROMY HOMILLADA

THERE IS, apparently, an art to slicing an imperfect circle of pizza. And this skill was what Erica Castañeda used to outclass other “cutters” in the region.

“It’s really difficult to slice pizza. It’s up to you to estimate where the center is. If you imagine the pizza, it’s an imperfect circle. It becomes more difficult if you have to slice it into six pieces. All parts must be evenly cut,” she says.

She says it took her all of five months to develop the skill, using not the roller knife but a rocker knife that needs dexterity and precise motions.

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Her perseverance paid off as Castañeda was named “best cutter” in the 2015 Yum! Restaurants Inc. Regional Champs Challenge held recently in Quezon City.

In an interview with the Inquirer, Pizza Hut Philippines chief operating officer Teck Huak Lim says it is this kind of dedication from Filipinos that makes the restaurant chain a cut above the rest—pun intended.

And while the competition only involved teams from within the Yum! Restaurants Inc. (YRI!) circle, it’s nothing to sneeze at. YRI! is a Kentucky-based company that has an international presence via restaurant brands that include Pizza Hut, KFC and Taco Bell.

“Filipinos have good work ethics. They are very dedicated and focused. But more than that, Filipinos are willing to learn and they’re willing to practice what they learn. Those are the reasons why Pizza Hut Philippines is going strong,” Lim says.

It’s this same customer service excellence that earned Castañeda and the rest of the members of the Philippine team major citations in the competition, which gathered more than 250 delegates from 14 member countries of YRI!’s Asia Franchise Business Units.

“This recognition fuels our passion to elevate our brand to becoming a frontrunner in the food industry by bringing the best in our people, providing the highest level of customer service and exceptional product quality,” Lim says.

He says he sees bright prospects for the iconic brand even with various international brands coming in.

“The economy is growing by leaps and bounds, and I think the Philippines is the darling of Asia. You may have new entrants but the pie is getting bigger,” he says.

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He adds that the competition has not affected the company and is, in fact, being welcomed with open arms.

He says the “best variety of restaurants”—from Japanese to Italian and everything in between—is in Manila.

This is due to Filipinos’ craving for food and adventure, he says. “Filipinos love to eat. It’s a hobby,” he says.

But more than the food they eat, Filipinos are also brand-conscious, he says. This is why Pizza Hut is comfortable in its position amid the expanding restaurant business, he says.

“Pizza Hut is an international brand. It’s global and it’s big in terms of research and innovation. The quality of standard is very high. And because of the backing we have, Pizza Hut is definitely among the best in this country,” he says.

He says the local unit of YRI! saw a “5 percent growth” from last year as customers continued to patronize the brand.

To date, Pizza Hut has 176 branches in the country, 12 of which opened this year. He says more branches will open next year “for as long as there’s a mouth to feed, we will be there.”

He says the response from Filipino customers has been encouraging, especially when Pizza Hut introduces an addition to its menu, such as the hand-stretched pizza. He says customers could not get enough of it, similar to how they appreciate the classic pan pizza.

But Lim says the most important factor behind Pizza Hut’s success is its thousands of crew members across the country.

“In service restaurants, the goal is for customers to have a good time because every one suffers from stress. Traffic is stressful, work is stressful. Our job is for you to forget about your problems. We give customers their best eating experience,” he says.

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TAGS: Business Features, Erica Castañeda, KFC, Pizza Hut, Pizza Hut Philippines, Taco Bell
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