It's no secret that Whole Foods has been in a bit of a slump, with slow sales and a recent round of layoffs in the fall. But the Austin-based supermarket chain is looking to make a comeback with a new hire. Say hello to chef Tien Ho, Whole Foods' new global vice president of culinary and hospitality who, according to Whole Foods' website, will lead the prepared foods and bakery team into a new era of improved customer experience and innovation beginning in January.
Ho has an impressive résumé, including stints at Momfuku's Ssäm Bar and being named New York Magazine's best new chef of 2011 for his work at Má Pêche. Ho's move to Austin will be a sort of homecoming, as he started his culinary career in Houston and Austin working in hotel kitchens before moving to New York in 2002 to take the position of sous chef at Café Boulud and Café Gray. Most recently, Ho has been overseeing the culinary development of Morgans Hotel Group's ten hotel brands, including Mondrian, Hudson, Royalton and Delano properties. While working for Morgans, he often partnered with celebrity chefs, which makes us wonder if some familiar signature dishes might be on the way to the Whole Foods hot bar. We certainly wouldn't mind seeing pizzas designed by Mario Batali (like his amazing white clam pie) or roast chicken from Jonathan Waxman.
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Regarding the decision to bring Ho on board, Whole Foods' executive vice president of operations, Ken Meyer, said, “As the Whole Foods Market brand continues to evolve and differentiate itself from competitors, we recognize the importance of this role and could not be more pleased to welcome Tien, who will help us elevate the way Whole Foods Market guests experience our food.” With prepared meals and baked goods raking in one fifth of the company's sales (around $3 billion annually), it's no wonder they're investing in some serious culinary talent.