TravelCenters of America (TA) has hired a new corporate executive chef for its full-service restaurants, including the Iron Skillet and Country Pride brands.
Maira Isabel Morales was most recently corporate executive chef for the Charlotte-based Wild Wing Cafe chain, where she spent two years. Before that, she was a recipe developer for CMI Culinary Group, a corporate executive chef for Schlotzky’s and an executive chef at Disney golf courses. Earlier in her career, she was an on-air personality at a number of Puerto Rican TV networks and hosted the show “Bizarre Foods” on the Travel Channel.
At TA, Morales will focus on bringing more healthy, regional and trendy items to the menu at the company’s more than 150 full-service restaurants.
“Chef Maira’s diverse background working in restaurants around the world, coupled with her sincere passion and enthusiasm, will elevate the sit-down dining experience at our travel centers,” said Lloyd Sanford, TA’s SVP, hospitality, in a statement.
The Westlake, Ohio-based travel center giant does business under the TA, Petro Stopping Centers and TA Express banners. It is also a major restaurant operator, with more than 600 restaurants spread across its 285 locations. And it’s continuing to invest in its hot food business. In January, TA debuted a new full-service concept, Fork & Compass, at a location in Perrysburg, Ohio. The menu features elevated comfort food like shrimp tacos and the bleu ribbon smash burger.
Fork & Compass joins TA’s proprietary full-service brands, the 100-unit Country Pride and 60-unit Iron Skillet, known for their homestyle fare and all-day breakfast. TA also operates Black Bear Diner, IHOP and other full-service franchises, as well as more than 20 quick-service concepts.
Last month, BP agreed to buy TA for $1.3 billion.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story omitted Maira Isabel Morales' last name.
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