T.G.I. Friday's(R) Restaurants Unleash 'Ultimate' Comfort Food

Food Network's 'Ultimate Recipe Showdown' Winner Inspires 'Gourmet Mac n' Five Cheese' Entree Available Only at Friday's® Restaurants

Carrollton, Texas, // PRNewswire // -- After a nationwide recipe search to determine the Ultimate Comfort Food, an entree inspired by Rick Massa, a 58-year-old retired Los Angeles Police Department/SWAT Officer from Simi Valley, California, will be featured at over 600 US T.G.I. Friday's® restaurants beginning today.

Massa's recipe was judged to be best in class by a panel of food experts on Food Network's "Ultimate Recipe Showdown," - a six-week series featuring everyday folks with the best recipes in America pitting their best dishes against one another for $25,000, national acclaim and the chance to have his or her recipe featured nationwide at T.G.I. Friday's restaurants. This is the second consecutive year in which winning recipes from the show have inspired entrees on the Friday's menu.

The "Ultimate" result: Gourmet Mac n' Five Cheese, rich and creamy five-cheese blend of Fontina, Bleu, Gruyere, White Cheddar and Parmesan, tossed with crispy bacon and penne pasta and topped with Blue Cheese crumbles and a Parmesan-crust topping, served with a juicy grilled chicken breast.

"We've kept very close to the inspiration of the winning recipe, straight down to the toasted breadcrumbs on top," said Scott Randolph, senior director of culinary, R&D for T.G.I. Friday's USA. "We used the same delicious blend of five cheeses and added a little protein to go with your dairy and grains. It screams flavor and says Friday's all the way through."

And for the nearly 600,000 members of Friday's guest recognition program, "Give Me More Stripes™ (www.givememorestripes.com)," an additional bonus: a coupon worth $5 off any Ultimate Recipe Showdown entree. The coupon, emailed to Give Me More Stripes members earlier today, is valid through February 16, 2009.

Food Network's "Ultimate Recipe Showdown," in its second season, features original recipes, whittled down from thousands of submissions, in six categories -- Comfort Food, Burgers, Cakes, Hot & Spicy, Desserts and Hometown Favorites. The show, hosted by Guy Fieri, premiered last night with four finalists competing in two rounds: speed and signature dish. The show will air every Sunday at 9 pm ET/PT through February 15.

About Give Me More Stripes

The only nationwide in-restaurant program of its kind is just shy of 600,000 members in the U.S. Give Me More Stripes perks available at participating restaurants.

Membership benefits include:

Personalized & customized membership cardFree appetizer or dessert upon sign-up (up to $8 value)One-time use jump-the-line-pass$8 certificate for every $100 spent (excluding alcohol-only purchases)Exclusive communication about specials and food/drink previews

Carlson Restaurants Worldwide Inc., the parent company of T.G.I. Friday's Inc., is a privately held company owned by Minneapolis-based Carlson, a world leader in the hospitality, travel and marketing industries. As of January 2009, Carlson Restaurants Worldwide owns, operates, franchises or licenses more than 1,000 restaurants in 62 countries. For more information, visit http://www.fridays.com.

FOOD NETWORK (www.foodnetwork.com) is a unique lifestyle network and Web site that strives to be way more than cooking. The network is committed to exploring new and different ways to approach food - through pop culture, competition, adventure, and travel - while also expanding its repertoire of technique-based information. Food Network is distributed to more than 90 million U.S. households and averages more than seven million Web site users monthly. With headquarters in New York City and offices in Atlanta, Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit and Knoxville, Food Network can be seen internationally in Canada, Australia, Korea, Thailand, Singapore, the Philippines, Monaco, Andorra, Africa, France, and the French-speaking territories in the Caribbean and Polynesia. The E.W. Scripps Company , which also owns and operates HGTV (www.hgtv.com), DIY Network (www.diynetwork.com), Great American Country (www.gactv.com) and FINE LIVING (www.fineliving.com), is the manager and general partner.

SOURCE: T.G.I. Friday's USA

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