Culinary Executive

The main dining room at Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak zhouse in Chicago.
The main dining room at Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak zhouse in Chicago. Del Frisco’s Restaurant Group

Three brands, more than 45 locations, and a team of chefs in every restaurant—all led by Del Frisco’s corporate chef.

Thomas Dritsas is a busy chef who clocks a lot of miles.

As vice president of culinary and corporate executive chef for the fast-growing Del Frisco’s Restaurant Group, Chef Dritsas oversees the chef teams at the company’s 19 Sullivan’s Steakhouse locations, 16 Del Frisco’s Grille units, and soon-to-be-12 Double Eagle Steak House restaurants around the country, managing multiple menus and conducting all the hiring, recruiting, and retention systemwide.

Needless to say, he’s on the road quite a bit. But since he can’t physically be present at all the restaurants on a weekly basis, Chef Dritsas conducts weekly conference calls with his executive and sous chefs. The focus of these calls rotates between the different Del Frisco’s concepts to discuss pertinent issues, changes, and opportunities.

“We first run through a report card with all of our numbers across sales and labor,” says the chef, who joined Del Frisco’s in 2006 after serving as the corporate executive chef for Lone Star Steakhouse & Saloon. During the calls, the team may also discuss seasonal ingredients and brainstorm new menu items or potential specials.

The core menus don’t change too frequently at the company’s three brands: Sullivan’s is a classic upscale steakhouse concept, Del Frisco’s Grille is upscale casual, and Double Eagle Steak House is a modern, higher-end concept in major cities. Any potential changes to the menus go through rounds of testing and an approval process culminating in sign-off by Chef Dritsas before becoming permanent additions.

Still, Chef Dritsas collaborates with his team to figure out ways to incorporate local and regional specialties throughout the year. This is particularly important at the Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House brand, which competes with high-end independent restaurants in major metropolitan areas.

It helps that the brand commands strong consumer awareness along with a perception of upscale quality. “All of our locations are thought of as independent restaurants,” Chef Dritsas says. “My job is to empower the executive chef and general manager to operate as restaurateurs and entrepreneurs, and to charge them with a sense of ownership. We call them CEOs of a multimillion-dollar business because that’s essentially what they are.”

As such, the head chefs are tasked to keep a pulse on trends and on what’s happening in their region. They are also expected to collaborate, try out dishes featuring local food, and collect feedback from guests.



Great article and a fantastic operation...


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