Houlihan’s vice president of culinary and menu innovation Michael Slavin explains why pasta makes for a perfect LTO.

Pasta may be a menu classic found in many restaurants’ core offerings, but this pantry staple can also serve as the base for a wide variety of LTOs that can add new dimensions to any menu.

Here, Michael Slavin, vice president of culinary and menu innovation for Houlihan’s, explains why the brand uses pasta for LTOs and how Barilla’s Fettuccine helped the team create a new fan-favorite limited-time offering so beloved it’s found a permanent home on its menu.

Karl Pfleider

Michael Slavin is the Vice President of Culinary & Menu innovation for Houlihan’s of Houlihan’s, Inc., leading product innovation for the company’s six brands.

1. Why did you choose a pasta dish for this LTO, and how does it fit into Houlihan’s overall menu offerings?

Pasta has a place on all of our seasonal LTOs. For spring, we want a dish that looks beautiful and eats light but has robust craveable flavors. Houlihan’s and our guests have a genuine affinity towards all of the pasta items we’ve featured over the years, and the best ones earn a coveted spot on the core menu.

2. Tell us about the dish and what makes it unique on the Houlihan’s menu.

The dish is Sedona Shrimp Pasta. It was part of our Spring “From the Test Kitchen” menu that we refresh two to three times per year.

It has six large shrimp, split for even cooking and visual appeal. We also add all the ingredients in stages, a la minute, to build and develop layers of flavor for a unique shrimp pasta experience. The Ancho Chili Butter and the tons of fresh basil leaves—three whole leaves torn and added to the pan—really add flavor depth and freshness cues.

The pride, all-scratch technique, and finesse is evident to the guest in this one-pan dish that retains all of the flavors and goodness from the oven roasted tomatoes, toasted garlic, white wine, shrimp stock, chili brown butter and spinach chiffonade—all made in our kitchens.

3. Why did you choose Barilla Fettuccine as the pasta for this dish?

Barilla Fettuccine’s wide noodle allows chefs to present their dishes with plenty of height and visual appeal while still serving a sensible portion for a spring menu. Houlihan’s has served Barilla pasta for years. The quality and consistency make it our go-to.

4. What has the response been to the dish?

It’s an absolute win with our guests, both current and new. It receives very high scores on all guest satisfaction metrics, and our team is proud to recommend it, cook it, and serve it—that’s why it earned a place on the core menu.

To learn more about how to use pasta to create extraordinary LTOs, visit the Barilla website at barillafs.com.

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