A first-generation Iranian-American, Chef Ojan Bagher came to Houston’s OpCo eight years ago after working at the esteemed fine-dining establishment Brennan’s of Houston, where the culinary world opened up to him. “Going to a restaurant of that caliber lets your creativity just shine through,” Bagher says. That creativity now comes into play in Bagher’s work at the OpCo, where he regularly meets with manufacturers to do Product Cuttings and Evaluations, and with Sysco customers to conduct customized In-House Business Reviews.
Could this be a Sysco product?
For the Product Evaluations, Bagher works closely with the merchandising department. Together, they see if they can come up with great new ways to prepare and plate new products that will appeal to Sysco customers.
“It’s like an informal demo,” he says. “We cook the product, test it and decide: Is this a good item and is there a market for this? For Sysco to be interested, there has to be a uniqueness, and also consistency.” Another question he and the merchandising department ask: Does it have something new to offer?
Somebody once told me a long time ago, ‘you don’t buy
products from a company,
you buy products from people,’ Bagher says. We want to be
that trusted partner.
That’s the ultimate goal.
Chef Ojan Bagher
A big part of Bagher’s job is participating in Sysco’s Business Reviews. Sysco customers can visit their local OpCo with a list of pain points, and the experts there offer comprehensive solutions, including menu revisions and cooking tips. “When the Sales Consultant brings in a customer, we show them anywhere from 15 to 20 items, maybe eight composed dishes, from start to finish,” says Bagher. “I like to do the cooking in front of the customer…sautéing, grilling, roasting—just to show that the ideas we are proposing are approachable and not too difficult to execute back in their kitchen.”
Bagher is clearly a man who loves his job—in particular, helping restaurants develop new dishes and cooking techniques. “I love to cook, so I’m constantly experimenting and trying new things,” he says. “For every customer that comes in, I try to do it differently. Each Business Review is customized to that customer. You open up your wheelhouse by adding other ingredients.” Even more than opening up customers to new possibilities, however, by putting the extra time, energy and heart into his work, he is building a relationship.
“Somebody once told me a long time ago, you don’t buy products from a company, you buy products from people,” Bagher says. “We want to be that trusted partner. That’s the ultimate goal.”