The ingredients that go into Mary Stanley’s biscuit baking also might touch on some intangibles.
Stanley will join eight other finalists on Thursday in Charlotte, N.C., for the 18th annual Bojangles’ Franchise Master Biscuit Maker Challenge. The winner will emerge from Bojangles’ test kitchen as its 2014 Master Biscuit Maker among the chain’s franchises.
Stanley began making the daily commute from Tabor City, N.C., a little more than a year ago to begin firing up biscuits made from scratch before sunrise at Bojangles’ at 589 International Drive in Carolina Forest, just northwest of Myrtle Beach.
Her taste for these goodies started as a child, when her grandmother and mother “always made homemade biscuits.”
Baking biscuits herself for Bojangles’, Stanley said only one way is right — they all come out of the oven “the same size and same height.” She also spoke about avoiding any overworking of the dough in a process that also entails mixing in buttermilk, before baking at 375 degrees F, “not lower or higher,” for just a few minutes.
She said having initially learned the routine for baking Bojangles’ biscuits, and following the instructions, it’s as simple as “nothing to it.”
Give her some grape jelly
Without a favorite kind of biscuit, Stanley said she might add grape jelly to round out one to delight her own taste buds as a treat.
Stanley said Bojangles’ marks her “first fast-food restaurant” after 14 years cooking at another area restaurant. Clocking in at 4:30 a.m. daily in her workweek, Stanley said she awakens an hour earlier, and starting with a “cup of cappuccino, I’m good for the rest of the day.”
Outside of work, shows on Food Network captivate Stanley, who voiced her high impressions on seeing casserole dishes in the spotlight.
Stanley said being asked to enter this Bojangles’ contest, she was game, viewing this foray with “no pressure at all,” although she realized the high stakes against baker colleagues from the Carolinas, Alabama, Tennessee and Virginia. She also said she will try to keep her baking turnaround time down, “to less than 5 minutes.”
Alan Chestnut, principal operating officer for Bo Benton — Bojangles’ franchise partner — appreciates how professional biscuit-makers “bring their own special pride and passion to the process” in this art of cooking such a signature product.
Same recipe, different focus
He said bakers adhere to and honor the biscuit recipe from Bojangles’ founders, yet “each biscuit-maker will likely tell you a different way that he or she focuses in order to make consistently delicious biscuits.”
“It is a careful craft that takes concentration, something that Mary has certainly mastered,” Chestnut said, lauding her dedication to “our guests, her team and the brand.”
Chestnut said although biscuits are available from 5:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily at Bojangles’, “breakfast hours” command 40 percent of sales across all Bojangles’ eateries, and “thousands of biscuits” are served daily at the shop where Stanley works.
Biscuit-making remains a serious business, too.
“Our biscuit-makers go through meticulous training to be certified as a Bojangles’ biscuit-maker,” Chestnut said, “then they must be re-certified every year. The time it takes to master the technique is different for everyone, but it takes repetition and focus. The Master Biscuit Maker Challenge is a fun way to celebrate those who have worked hard to perfect the technique for the benefit of our guests who dine with us daily.”