Since launching this blog in January, I have received quite a few emails on the posting subjects. It is inspiring to learn of guests individual culinary experiences, and equally beneficial to hear our culinary associates viewpoints on food. Though I cannot respond to every posting, I thought a compilation of some of the questions I have received might make for further dialogue. Below is the first of three installments to a few of the questions I have been asked recently:
Who is your favorite chef?
There are a lot of great chefs, but I would not single out one as a favorite above all others. I really like what Cindy Pawlcyn does (Mustards, Grill, Back Street Kitchen, Go Fish). Eric Ripert is unbelievable with fish and just about everything he touches. I think Laurent Tourandel really has a fantastic understanding of what people want to eat and his BLT restaurants hit the mark perfectly. But I am also inspired by the cook at the tiny Dottie’s True Blue Cafe in San Francisco’s marginal Tenderloin area. No celebrity here, just a chef who makes amazing breakfasts off of an old griddle in this tiny restaurant that is no longer a San Francisco locals only secret.
What do you hope to accomplish with Marriott in the Kitchen?
I would hope that this forum will provoke discussion on food, what the global traveler/diner is interested in and what we as a company of chefs can be inspired to deliver. The response so far has been incredible, and hopefully this idea of blending food with travel with corporate perspective is of interest to those reading.
What kind of changes or initiatives have you led in Marriott's kitchens?
Much of what we work on is strategic and directional, providing guidance to the various hotel brands on operating in the food and beverage space. I am lucky enough to work with great people and get inspired by them each day. Robin Uler has led food and beverage and operations at Marriott for many years, and her ability to visualize what the industry will be doing in the future is truly amazing. All of the members of our team are excellent at what they do, and from our collective think tank we initiate change or initiatives designed to keep Marriott going forward. Whether it be trans-fats, organic food, innovative restaurant designs, simple cooking, global food and beverage promotions, banquets that serve great food (absolutely NO rubber chicken dinners), or bar food that appeals, each program is handled as a team. I play a part in that, but would humbly offer that I do so as part of a greater group of like-minded colleagues.
Do you think Marriott guests and consumers in general are getting savvier palates? If so, why?
The days of a chef saying “That’s the way it’s supposed to be” and just being listened to are over…thankfully. This transition began years ago, probably when nouvelle cuisine was in its heyday and the public was just supposed to like it because it was new. That lasted about five minutes and then we entered the “everything on mashed potatoes” phase. Equally rough. Credit Julia Child, Jacques Pepin, and Wolfgang Puck for starting it if you will, but soon everyone had an interest in food and by the mid 80”s celebrity accompanied many chefs. The interest continues, and with that guests’ food knowledge has gotten very savvy and more importantly informed. Travelers often base the success of their travels on the food they experience, but not always in the way first thought. Gone are the days were “fine dining” was tuxedoed servers with indecipherable menus . Now, our guests demand excellent cooking skills paired with excellent ingredients… not the carved ice swan filled with sticky sweet sorbet served as that dreadful course once known as “intermezzo”. Trends are cyclical, but I sure hope that never comes back.
What's on YOUR plate today?