Food personality Tyler Florence defends his 2006 partnership with America's foremost culinary institute Applebee's in an interview with Food Republic today. No, it was not just about the cash (though there was lots of that), but also about having the means to "affect change." (Jon Stewart had some ideas for how Applebee's could change just last night.) Florence explains, "If you are going to affect change, you have to affect change at a high level. Applebee's paid me a lot of money, dude – they paid me $3 million for 10 recipes and 10 days of my life."
He goes on: "We were talking about taking them to a whole new simpler, pure direction that I think that brand really needed." He's aware that he was criticized for the deal at the time, saying, "We certainly took quite a few hits across the chin just because it was a big departure from everything that we stand for as a company. It wasn't my intention to sell out and say that I like chicken fingers..."
So just how did Florence and Applebee's change the world together? Well, for one, they added some roasted chicken options instead of fried. Also, they had some conversations about going organic because, as Florence says, "we thought that if Walmart could do it, so could we." Florence adds that the campaign got Applebee's "pretty far" in terms of change, but explains that he quit working with them "because we got such negative press about it."
· Tyler Florence Is Really, Really, Really Into Wine [Food Republic]
· All Tyler Florence Coverage on Eater [-E-]
· All Applebee's Coverage on Eater [-E-]