Juicer and carrot juice. Fruits in background

In Vino Veritas LX – Making Sense of the Clean Drinking Craze

I’ve been wise to this growing trend for a while now but haven’t felt the urge to write about it until I happened upon a recent National Post (one of Canada’s leading newspapers) article using the catchy title of, “You can’t have your cake and drink it too.” The best parts of this editorial are its headline as well as its citing of specific examples of cocktails and wine products that infuse healthier foods. Beyond that, the author may have overstated a few of her critiques as this is indeed a trend that your lobby bar or restaurant should consider. To start, a summary of what’s happening is in order. Fruit and vegetable juicing has long been in vogue as a means of cleansing our bodies of toxins by giving us the extra vitamins, antioxidants and micronutrients they need – in a blended and thus more readily digestible form – to more …

lmaadminIn Vino Veritas LX – Making Sense of the Clean Drinking Craze
view from above restaurant style cuisine fine food meals starter main salad

Benefiting From Chefs’ Tasting Menus

Are chefs’ tasting menus merely a snapshot of the day’s fare? Hardly! Tasting menus are designed to demonstrate the superlative qualities of the chef’s creativity and culinary acumen. In order words, they are meant to show off the best of the best. Every tasting menu that I have had the pleasure of eating my way through has formed not only a lasting impression, but also elicited recommendations to others both in person as well as on social media. Hence, while they are a daunting task to set up, the payoff extends far beyond what your bean counters can count as they can have a halo effect for the rest of the restaurant’s menu and the entire property as a whole. Most recently, as a guest of Montage Deer Valley in Utah, I had the opportunity to experience a tasting menu at the hotel’s signature restaurant, Apex. I caught several of the …

lmaadminBenefiting From Chefs’ Tasting Menus
Hand with compass at mountain road at sunset sky in Kazakhstan, central Asia

Lever Your Location

There is only one aspect of your property that you absolutely cannot change – your physical address. Renovate, replace staff, add new operations, re-flag or re-brand, it makes no difference; you are where you are! Your location is uniquely yours, so why not make the most of it? When a guest arrives – especially for the first time – they rarely have the in-depth knowledge of your neighborhood to go about on their own without some guidance. While nowadays there are numerous online resources that can give visitors a broad overview of the top highlight, your guests will nevertheless want your help in discovering what truly makes your area special. The best part about levering your location for better guest satisfaction is that becoming the local expert is not overly complex. However, it will require some leg work on behalf of your team to break ground for your guests, find …

lmaadminLever Your Location
Beautifully multicolored decorated catering banquet table with different food snacks and appetizers with sandwich, caviar, fresh fruits on corporate party event or wedding celebration.

No-Holds-Barred Catering

Events that showcase on-property chefs are not on every hotelier’s calendar, most likely because they typically deliver an expense line well above operating revenues. However, they provide significant value in several indirect ways. First, events like this allow a hotel to demonstrate unbridled culinary excellence. Next, they allow your chefs to demonstrate creativity. Thirdly, they afford your public relations team with great fodder for continued media interest. There’s a powerful fourth attribute that I’ll get to in a moment. Oh, and did I also mention that these events can be a lot of fun? This past July, I had the opportunity to attend the Park City Food & Wine Classic in scorching hot Utah. While there, we attended several wine seminars and dinners, with the signature launch event held at Montage Deer Valley, an ultraluxury property nearby. The 400- attendee, outdoor terrace affair was comprised of a series of four …

lmaadminNo-Holds-Barred Catering
Young friends having fun outdoor drinking red wine - Happy people enjoying harvest time at farmhouse vineyard winery - Youth friendship concept with focus on guy toasting in middle frame - Warm filter

In Vino Veritas LIX: The Indirect Value of Wine Tasting Events

Away on vacation for a food and wine festival hosted by a luxury mountain resort, I was fortunate enough to participate in a wine tasting conducted by Amy McCandlish, assistant winemaker at Eyrie Vineyards in MicMinnville, Oregon. The one-hour-plus presentation provided a quick overview on the winery and included a tasting of five of their top products. For the two dozen participants, it was an opportunity to get close and personal with the wine. Here, we were guided through the nuances of several wines of the same grape variety, allowing us to understand the nuances created by the vintage and cellaring processes as well as furthering our knowledge and appreciation of this omnipotent elixir. After all, learning is a lifelong process and should not be restricted to a classroom setting, unless that classroom setting involves a healthy amount of libations. For reference, the varietal in question was pinot gris which …

lmaadminIn Vino Veritas LIX: The Indirect Value of Wine Tasting Events
Waiter presenting burnished flask of beverage. Focus on wine

In Vino Veritas LVIII: Beverage Specialist Nomenclature

Educating your servers about wine so they pay that knowledge forward to patrons in the form of intelligent menu recommendations and building a rapport is a worthwhile pursuit as well as one I have wholly espoused throughout this column. However, with many restaurants already encouraging this practice and with even more waiters seeing this as an avenue for bigger tips, basic wine knowledge has become the norm rather than a value-add. And therein lies an opportunity to further enhance overall guest satisfaction. This doesn’t mean you should abort all attempts at staff education or in offering recommendations. Rather, we have to put our marketing caps on for a moment to see if there’s a way we can tweak this aspect of the meal experience so that it feels fresh once again. And an easy solution may be in further specializing your F&B team then giving these dedicated experts uniquely alluring …

lmaadminIn Vino Veritas LVIII: Beverage Specialist Nomenclature
A menu resting on a restaurant table, emphasis placed on the golden embroidery lettering against the black with the image's focus.  Silverware, napkins and glasses sit in the background as blurry shapes at the menu's edge, all resting on a light brown table.

The Proof of Prix Fixe

Choice is a tricky thing. Confronted with too much of it and you are stymied by indecision. Yet faced by too little and you feel shortchanged or indifferent to the whole buying process. It’s all about finding that happy medium, and to help you decipher this golden mean there’s better place to start than by examining how prix fixe menus subtly work to build revenue and customer satisfaction. The best prix fixe menus not only feature a restaurant’s signature dishes as selected and perfected by your chefs, but they also offer a few options within broader course grouping. For instance, if you offer a simple three-course dinner, you might give two choices for appetizers, three as mains and another two for desserts. This way your patrons don’t feel as though they are being coerced to go down one specific track where the perception would be one of inevitable boredom unless, …

lmaadminThe Proof of Prix Fixe
Toast with avocado, tomatoes and basil on rustic wooden background

Breakfast of Champions

I’m sick of boring breakfasts, aren’t you? It’s about time that our chefs in the hotel industry woke up to something different than the same old bacon and eggs or oatmeal and raisins. In this sense, breakfast is another overlooked opportunity to wow your guests and leave a lasting impression. Here’s a simple test to see if your morning foodservice is staid. Order breakfast in your own restaurant and take a picture of what’s served on the plate. Now, go to any Denny’s – or any other well-known diner of this ilk – and order their Grand Slam or equivalent. This meal delivers a plethora of plate-filling carbs and all at a very reasonable price. If your plate looks similar to this, then it’s time to seriously rethink your approach. Remember, Denny’s price is well under ten bucks including coffee. That’s the baseline your customers have in the back of …

lmaadminBreakfast of Champions
Welcome to Oregon

In Vino Veritas LVII: Cascade Wines

The New World, and North America have come a long way in the past few decades. Since the Judgment of Paris in 1976, vintners beyond of the hallowed soils of the northern Mediterranean have sought to grow their stocks as far more than jug wine. It is the knowledge and passion for the process of winemaking that gives live to the end product, not just where you are on a map. Some 40 years later and exceptional viticulture flourishes in every corner of the continent where vines will grow, especially California where it all began. But just north of the Golden State, in Oregon and in Washington, they are doing incredible things as well, and for a fraction of the cost to consumers when compared to the some of the outrageous price tags on renowned Californian labels. While the appellations vary wildly across these two territories when it comes to …

lmaadminIn Vino Veritas LVII: Cascade Wines
Arrangement of different types of baked foods

Give Us Each Day Our Daily Bread Basket

I intentionally played upon this line from The Lord’s Prayer (Luke 11: 1-4) for the title of this article in order to underscore the importance that bread plays in Western culture. When we go into a restaurant, a bread basket is all but an expectation. If we must ask for it, then there is a service problem! And for those restaurants who feel as though they can charge extra for this item, be warned that you certainly aren’t winning customers over with your penny-pinching approach to F&B. Knowing how profound a role bread has played throughout the course of civilization, still to this day nothing sets the stage for a great meal better than a freshly prepared loaf. The smell of baked bread and the satisfaction of physically handling its chewy texture are both as communal as they are primal. Yet, for many hoteliers, bread is given mere ‘lip service’ …

lmaadminGive Us Each Day Our Daily Bread Basket