Spring 2011 | Volume 1
World Class in a Glass
Talking F&B with
A perfectly prepared steak is the culinary key to Mike Fegleyâ€™s heart, delivered in an establishment that offers just the right ambience. Our series of F&B interviews with members of IHGâ€™s leadership team continues in a conversation with the Vice President of Americas Sales.
Entertaining clients in cities around the world is an integral part of the job for the Vice President of Americas Sales, and Mike Fegley has developed a keen eye for what makes a restaurant or bar a hit. In a recent interview, Mike talked about the kind of food and beverage experiences he enjoys most, and how IHG F&B outlets can stand out in the crowd.
Make the F&B Experience
Vibrant,Bustling & Fun To Meet Mike Fegley’s Expectations Any foodservice experience in your background? Pan Fried Filet of Grouper on Sweet Mustard Cucumber with Horseradish Potato Purée, from the InterContinental Kitchen Cookbook
“I worked as a waiter when I was in college in Cincinnati. My friends and I loved music and nightclubs, so some of us became waiters and others bartenders to earn extra money, which we usually spent in the restaurants where we worked. My career in the hospitality industry has always been in sales, starting with a job as Regional Sales Manager for Holiday Inns, Inc., in Washington, D.C., in 1976. I’ve had three different stints with the company, most recently rejoining in 2001. Altogether, I’ve been with IHG nearly 20 years.”
What does a great dining experience look like for you? “I like to eat in a restaurant that’s full of life—loud and bustling. If there aren’t a lot of lights on in the place, and things are so quiet you can hear the other diners’ conversations, that’s not for me. I prefer to give my business to a place that has an air of success.”
What’s your favorite food?
“I’m kind of known as a ‘steak man.’ If I had to choose my last meal, it would be a bone-in rib eye, medium rare, blackened. That said, I also love Mexican and Italian food.”
How about your favorite beverage? “Wine is definitely my favorite. I tend to drink more red wine, but I also love my chardonnays. When I first started entertaining clients, I always ordered French wines because I felt they were a sure thing— Châteauneuf du Pape for red and Pouilly-Fuissé for white. Now I rarely order French or Italian wines. My choices are almost exclusively from the Napa and Sonoma Valleys in California.”
Favorite restaurant? “My favorite restaurants are those I can get really excited about going to, where I look forward to the experience from the minute I know I’m going to be dining there. A couple are Mastro’s Ocean Club in Scottsdale and Nick & Sam’s Steak and Fish House in Dallas, both of which specialize in seafood and steak and offer wonderful ambience. Two other phenomenal steakhouses are Gibson’s in Chicago and Hal’s in Atlanta. I also love Pure Taqueria, a fabulous Mexican restaurant set in a remodeled Pure gasoline station in Alpharetta, just outside Atlanta.”
When you stay at an IHG property, what are your expectations regarding F&B? “I love it when our restaurants or bars have a theme and leverage it well, from a really great sports bar in a Holiday Inn hotel to the French brasserie concept of Au Pied de Cochon at the InterContinental Buckhead or Sushi Teq at the InterContinental Boston. Of course we always want to have friendly staff and offer interesting, healthy menu choices, but effective themes are a proven way to have people come to our hotels who might not otherwise do so. It’s very satisfying to see guests enjoying our facilities. I’m proud when our restaurants and bars aren’t vanilla, when they deliver a unique, cool experience that customers can’t get elsewhere.”
When you dine at an IHG hotel, what do you usually order? “I look at the meat dishes, of course, but also the fish—I love salmon, grouper, swordfish, sea bass. I like to make sure things are fresh and see how they are prepared. I generally stay away from the starches because of the impact on my waistline.”
Any recent standout meals at an IHG property?
“I’m proud when our restaurants and bars aren’t vanilla, when they deliver a unique, cool experience that customers can’t get elsewhere. ” Mineral water or tap? “Usually I prefer tap water, and we have filtered water at our house. I don’t generally like to pay for water in a restaurant, but occasionally I might order San Pellegrino because it’s refreshing and tastes so good.”
Any F&B “pet peeves?” “Of course, I like hot food hot and cold food cold. If a dish is supposed to be hot, I want it to be very hot, not lukewarm, and I realize that’s a real challenge for banquets. I also like my steak prepared the way I ordered it—medium rare, not medium and not rare. One other pet peeve is waste. I think some restaurants serve portions that are entirely too big.”
Do you cook at home, and if so, what are your specialties? “Cindy is a phenomenal cook who loves to try new things. She creates a menu every day and buys fresh ingredients, for great dishes like mustard salmon. I’m not a good cook, so I help but try not to interfere. I do make a mean sandwich and great breakfasts. And, I love to barbecue. I have a Weber grill, a smoker and a gas grill, and I’ll barbecue anything that can be barbecued—burgers, brisket, steak, cedar plank salmon—even meatloaf. I have a great Paula Dean recipe for barbecued meatloaf, and I cook them on the grill two at at time.”
Chile, Coffee and Chocolate Beef Tenderloin with Onion Rings and Stewed Tomatoes, from the InterContinental Kitchen Cookbook
“About 15 members of my Americas Sales team and I had dinner recently in the new Todd English restaurant, Ça Va, at the InterContinental Times Square in New York. It was an outstanding, New York brasserie experience. The place was alive with both locals and hotel guests—busy and full of fun and laughter. The wait staff was superb, the menu was really creative and the presentation was amazing. We also had breakfast there the next day. The elegant French theme of the dishes had us feel we might have been in Paris. I can’t wait to go back.”
Do you ever order room service? “Not usually for weekday travel—it doesn’t fit with my schedule. I’d rather just have coffee brewed in my room. If I’m traveling for pleasure on the weekend with my wife, Cindy, we do like to sometimes order room service on Saturday or Sunday morning.”
We’re continually guided by insight from both our employees and our customers. That enables us to quickly identify and respond to consumer trends and distributor needs, while successfully executing against our strategic priorities. —Thom McCorkle -National Accounts Manager, Pernod Ricard USA
CouplingTopBrands & Entrepreneurship One of the four core values of Pernod Ricard, S.A., is an “entrepreneurial spirit.” The company—which is the world’s coleader in wine and spirits—defines this as encouraging its employees to take intelligent risks and initiative and to make quick, informed decisions. The result is an environment, management believes, in which new ideas are encouraged and considered, empowering the organization to initiate change and grow. That entrepreneurial context, coupled with the decentralized business model under which the Paris, France-based holding company operates, has allowed its largest regional subsidiary, Pernod Ricard USA, to flourish. “Our company takes a ‘bottom-up’ approach, providing overall strategy and then giving us a lot of leeway to make field decisions based on our in-depth knowledge of the U.S. 4
market,” says Thom McCorkle, National Accounts Manager, Pernod Ricard USA. “We coordinate closely with our various brand teams who develop and deploy specific marketing strategies for their respective brands.”
A Stellar Line-up As the premium spirits and wine supplier in the United States, Pernod Ricard USA imports and markets some of the nation’s most prestigious spirits and wine brands. Its portfolio boasts a stellar array of iconic names in virtually every category. The company’s 2008 acquisition of Vin & Sprit Group brought vodka market giant ABSOLUT® into the Pernod Ricard fold, along with Plymouth™Gin. Other clear spirit leaders in the portfolio are Malibu® rum, Seagram’s Extra Dry Gin® and Beefeater® Gin. In brown spirits, holdings include Jameson® Irish Whiskey, The Glenlivet® Single Malt Scotch Whisky, Chivas Regal® Scotch Whisky, and Ballentine’s®, a blended scotch whisky that recently won the esteemed Jim Murray Whisky Bible Award for 2011. Other well-known names
include Kahlúa® Liqueur and Hiram Walker® Liqueurs, as well as the eponymous Pernod® and Ricard® brands. On the wine side, the Pernod Ricard USA stable encompasses highly respected labels such as Jacob’s Creek® and Brancott Estate® and in the sparkling wine arena, Perrier-Jouët® Champagne, G.H. Mumm™ Champagne and Mumm Napa® sparkling wines. Based in Purchase, New York, Pernod Ricard USA employs about 1,000 people across the country, including those at its production facilities—a Hiram Walker plant in Fort Smith, Arkansas, and Mumm Napa winery in Napa Valley, California. The winery is the only Napa establishment to achieve the highly distinguished “triple” certification from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), meaning that its quality, environmental and health and safety management systems have been judged to meet the rigorous requirements established by the ISO, a worldwide federation of national standards organizations.
Aiming for Best in Class Pernod Ricard USA’s success is built on a solid strategy of generating value and outperforming the competition, Thom notes. “Specifically, we aim to perform better than our peer group and the market by ensuring that our brands excel in their respective categories,” he says. “This requires us to retain and expand relationships with consumers who are already loyal to our brands as well as to attract new consumers.” Among the key strategic levers to accomplish this are imaginative brand-building activities, innovative on-premise programs with bars, clubs and restaurants, and ongoing efforts to build the image and equity of the brands. “We’re continually guided by insight from both our employees and our customers,” Thom says. “That enables us to quickly identify and respond to consumer trends and distributor needs, while successfully executing against our strategic priorities. Overall, Pernod Ricard USA is focused on generating sustained growth for our portfolio while continuing the rich tradition behind our brands.” 5
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CROWNE PLAZA SUITES DALLAS-PARK CENTRAL S t a n d
The hotel’s spacious atrium adds to the function space available.
Food & Beverage Director Aaron Ball
T h e
C ro w d
The location of the Crowne Plaza Suites Dallas-Park Central is both a blessing and a challenge in creating a successful food and beverage program. The all-suite, boutique-style hotel is tucked into the heart of the vibrant but competitorheavy North Dallas business district, and a stone’s throw from a popular 200-outlet “Restaurant Row.” Yet the hotel’s F&B team consistently turns in a strong revenue performance and racks up top-level service scores. The property is a past Torchbearer and Quality Excellence Award winner and has also taken Hotel of the Year honors for Meeting Service. The secret to the sustained success has two important parts, according the Food & Beverage Director Aaron Ball: Keeping fingers on the pulse of the customers’ desires and making sure the staff is always informed, involved and appreciated. “Because my background is in sales as well as F&B, I can link the two teams, helping our chefs and banquet staff appreciate the importance of attention to detail,” says Aaron, who has been with IHG 13 years, eight of them with the Crowne Plaza Suites-Dallas. He is also one of the IHG Food & Beverage Commandos. “I take our staff team leaders to other properties from time to time—big box hotels and boutiques—to look at their breaks and catering service and see what we like and don’t like. It really helps take the blinders off and stimulates creative ideas.” Challenging the F&B team to be creative led to an exciting new menu for the new year in the hotel’s three-meal-a-day restaurant, Cafe Biarritz. Led by Executive Chef Daniel Friend, the culinary team decided to focus on top-quality comfort food, with a unique local twist. A previously unused smoker in the kitchen was put into action to cook barbecue and unusual dishes such as smoked chicken pot pie.
The offerings were set off with new dinnerware and fresh presentation, with great attention to the “eye” factor, Aaron says. “It’s been exciting to get the team on board with our new approach,” he notes. “We’ve seen diners taking pictures of their food with their cell phones. That’s never happened before.”
Making Groups Feel Welcome The creative ideas extend to maximizing food and beverage business from in-house groups as well. The hotel specializes in medium-sized and small (fewer than 20 participants) corporate and government groups—clients who tend to be value-oriented and budget-minded. The property has 17,000 square feet of function space including the dramatic lobby atrium, which is often used for lunches. However, the F&B and sales teams have found that many of the smaller groups prefer the less-expensive option of pre-ordering lunch menus for reserved tables in the restaurant, versus having meals catered in the meeting rooms. The menu
Lauren Martin, in 2010 who is helping the hotel make a name for itself in the area bridal market. “Lauren has brought in more wedding business in less than a year than at any time since I’ve been with the hotel,” Aaron says. Another successful best practice for the F&B team is an innovative approach to small corporate holiday lunches. Tables in the restaurant are sold for “The Biggest Little Holiday Party in Texas,” a fun-filled seasonal celebration that involves the various tables of guests as teams in competitions such as a gingerbread-house-building contest, with weekend getaways among the featured prizes. Revenue from the event has increased 30 percent in each of the four years it has been held.
Unique local specials charm diners in Cafe Biarritz.
Executive Chef Daniel Friend
includes a value-priced lunch buffet, and Aaron always makes a point to speak individually to each group. “I like to welcome them to provide a personal touch, so they feel we genuinely want their business in our restaurant,” he says. Small group packages often include cross-promotional offers for the compact lobby bar, which draws primarily in-house guests. The hotel also has been nurturing a growing stream of weekend social business. While amateur athletic groups—baseball, softball and soccer—make up the majority of these bookings, the hotel’s management team hired a new wedding specialist,
Appreciation and Pride Taking a creative approach isn’t limited to customer-facing initiatives for the Dallas Crowne Plaza’s F&B management team. A premium is placed on honest feedback and open communications with employees as well as with guests, Aaron notes, and saying thanks for a job well done is an important part of the process. At the end of particularly busy days, Aaron, Chef Daniel and other team leaders make a point of visiting the various departments to thank team members—from housekeepers in the laundry to dishwashers and servers.
And the acknowledgement doesn’t stop there. Each summer, the hotel’s chief engineer, Norberto Trejo, and Chef Daniel team up to put on a fajita cookout by the pool for the entire hotel staff. Chef, Aaron, Human Resources Director Erika Juarez and General Manager Andre Martin also surprised the housekeeping staff last fall by hand-making Coke floats to order to appreciate the team who, as Aaron says, “are the backbone of the hotel.” Supporting the team’s growth and development is another important element in the success of the F&B program, Aaron says. “Many of our sous chefs and other staff members have been promoted or moved to other properties to take on more responsibility,” he says. “I’m always proud when they leave to take a step up in their careers. I ask myself whether I helped make them better— did I show them new things, challenge them and set them up for success?” General Manager Andre Martin agrees. “We believe it’s important to get the staff’s input on every idea we want to try,” he says. “If we can get them excited about coming to work and being part of a new concept, theme or approach that helps them learn and grow, they will want to go above and beyond in implementing it.”
The cozy lobby bar welcomes in-house groups, business travelers and local customers.
General Manager Andre Martin
Arriving at your favorite restaurant, the host shows you to your table. Shortly after you are seated, the sommelier brings you—an iPad. Sound a bit 21st century to be for real? The high-tech scenario is playing out daily in a handful of restaurants around the world, one of which was profiled in a recent article in the New York Times. At Bone’s, an Atlanta bastion of tradition and elegance that specializes in beef and wine, the management has invested in a clutch of 30 iPads, at $499 a piece, each loaded with the restaurant’s database of label descriptions and ratings for its extensive 1,350-plus-selection wine list. After some brief experimentation with the device, diners are able to search for wines by name, region, varietal and price, and can even check out ratings by noted wine writer Robert M. Parker, Jr. Customer response took the owners by complete surprise. During the first two weeks the iPad wine lists were in use, wine purchases increased nearly 11 percent per diner versus the previous three weeks. Other restaurants experimenting with iPad wine lists reported similar results. The consensus is that the devices are stimulating greater interest in the various wines and emboldening diners to try new labels and select with more confidence. Though interactive wine lists have been around for about a decade and some smartphone applications have been developed by
certain wine analysts, Apple’s introduction of the iPad last year—which is about the same size as the traditional printed wine list—has definitely jump-started a new trend among cutting-edge restaurateurs. Celebrity chefs Gordon Ramsay and Todd English (with whom IHG partnered for the successful new Ça Va restaurant at the InterContinental Times Square) are among the pioneer users of new wine-list software developed for the iPad. The IHG Food & Beverage team has been closely tracking and researching this trend from its inception, working to build a strong foundation for interactive F&B applications that will put IHG at the forefront in the hotel industry. “Our vision is for a full game change in this area, meaning all our wine lists, beverage menus, cocktail lists and food menus would be adapted for use on iPads and other similar devices,” says Jean-Pierre Etcheberrigaray, Vice President of Food & Beverage. “This will allow us to enhance the guest experience in our F&B outlets by providing patrons the option of ordering on interactive devices they are familiar and comfortable with. Further, with interactive menus we can change our offerings instantaneously and without reprinting—a far more sustainable approach. We are planning to pilot our new applications in a number of our hotels by mid-year, so stay tuned for exciting things to come!” 9
h Grilled, p Duet wit o ll ca S d n avera nderloin a lenta Prim Seared Te Seared Po
In this issue we’re launching a new feature introducing some of the outstanding executive chefs at IHG hotels in the Americas.
Cultivating A Taste For Cooking A passion for travel, rather than a love of cooking, led Didier Montarou into a culinary career. Today he is a highly accomplished executive chef with 20 years in the hospitality industry, 18 of them with InterContinental Hotels. He has worked in hotels in seven countries and been Executive Chef for the InterContinental Boston since helping open the property nearly five years ago. He also is Chair of IHG’s Culinary Commandos. Yet despite this distinguished foodservice career, his professional life might have turned out much differently. “When I was young I wanted to travel, and the hotel industry offered that option,” Didier says. He enrolled in a two-year hospitality program at the prestigious L’Hostellerie School-Hélène Boucher in his native France. Cooking was an important part of the curriculum, and Didier found he both liked and was good at it. After graduating, he did turns in hotel kitchens in France and 10
England and for a cruise line before becoming sous chef at his first InterContinental Hotel in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He subsequently served as Executive Chef at the InterContinental Hotels in Valencia, Venezuela; Cartagena, Colombia, and Madrid, Spain. Along the way, his passion for cooking grew continually stronger, as he added to his culinary achievements. In his initial U.S. assignment in 2002, for example, Didier led his team at the new InterContinental Cleveland to the first prestigious Five Diamond rating for an InterContinental Hotel restaurant in America. Under Didier’s leadership, the InterContinental Boston’s culinary team has created successful offerings in every F&B outlet in the hotel and also developed a standout reputation in the market for uniqueness and creativity in catering. “We try to offer things our clients can’t get elsewhere, from unusual menu items to custom designs on the dinnerware we use at certain functions,” Didier says.
Tuna Tartare Provençale
Maine Lobst er with Orzo Pasta and Bisque Jus A l Pesto
içoise Crostini up with Tuna N So r tie en rm Pa
“The primary goal is to please the guests. You learn to accept and embrace that it’s the customer’s event, the patron’s restaurant or bar, not yours.” These achievements, of course, require an outstanding team, and many of Didier’s staff have been with the InterContinental Boston since it opened. “Their teamwork and dedication allow me to say ‘yes’ to customer requests and be confident that we can deliver.” And consistently generating top-quality, memorable food and beverage experiences for guests, of course, produces exceptional results: the InterContinental Boston had the highest food revenue and highest beverage revenue of any InterContinental Hotel in the Americas in 2010.
“Didier is a classically trained chef with a passion that is totally contemporary, and he delivers that experience for every guest. He’s helped us develop the top reputation for catering in the city, besting 38 major competitors.” —Tim Kirwan, General Manager, InterContinental Boston
As for Didier, his wanderlust is pretty much on hold for now. “I get to cook, create and work with a great team, for a great hotel, in a great location,” he says. “I enjoy coming to work everyday because I love what I do.”
“You never see Didier get flustered or raise his voice—he’s a consummate professional. He has a great way with people and is highly respected by the staff. He’s their go-to guy not just for culinary matters, but for guidance about management and leadership.”
Kudos to a true Top Chef!
—Steve Juscen, F&B Director, InterContinental Boston
Samuel Stanovich (left), Director, SRA Regional Sales & Business Development for the National Restaurant Association, presents the World Class Beverage Program’s VIBE VISTA Award to Laura Hammer and Jean-Pierre Etcheberrigaray.
World Class Beverage Program Takes Top Honors in Responsible Alcohol Service Category For the second year in a row, IHG’s World Class Beverage Program has brought home a first-in-category honor from the annual VIBE VISTA Awards presentation in Las Vegas. The World Class Beverage Program was recognized in the Responsible Alcohol Service Category for the hotels/ casinos and cruise lines segment. A total of 12 outstanding operations were honored for excellence in beverage programs in two segments, six each for chain and multiconcept restaurants and for hotels, casinos, cruise lines and theme parks. A panel of industry experts judged the awards, which were presented March 9 during the VIBE Conference. Criteria for the Responsible Alcohol Service award called for the winning company to showcase initiative and customization beyond basic implementation of a ready-made responsible server training program. The judges praised IHG’s program for its comprehensiveness and for developing a trainer incentive and recognition component that complements the TIPS program, which forms the basis of IHG’s responsible server effort. 12
In accepting the award on behalf of IHG, Vice President of Food & Beverage Jean-Pierre Etcheberrigaray noted the high priority that responsible alcohol service is given within IHG’s company-owned and -managed hotels. “We place the safety of our guests and our employees first, because that is the foundation of ensuring we are providing Great Hotels Guests Love,” he said. “We encourage our hotels to extend their responsible alcohol service training beyond bartenders and servers to include other employees who may interact with our bar and lounge patrons—such as doormen, concierges and security staff. We also recognize that the success of our program rests squarely on the shoulders of our TIPS trainers, so creating a means to honor our top trainers was a logical extension of our program.” At the 2010 VIBE Awards, IHG won the segment category for best alcohol-free beverage program for the World Class Beverage Program’s signature alcohol-free smoothie initiative, which was developed in partnership with the Coca-Cola Company.
Background: Started as a cocktail server at the InterContinental Miami in 1985, then worked as a bartender at the hotel’s pool bar before becoming a bartender, and later head bartender, for the property’s Indigo Bar. Well-known locally for her creative specialty drinks, including the hotel’s signature City Cocktail, the Miami Mystique.
For centuries tending bar was a male-dominated occupation. By the 1970s, however, female bartenders had come to be both accepted and expected at restaurants and bars in the United States. Today, more than half the bartenders in this country are female. Here we introduce you to some of IHG’s outstanding Americas bartenders—who also happen to be women.
Philosophy: “I’m sort of old school, but I also enjoy learning from other bartenders and servers, to get new ideas for creating a ‘wow’ effect that adds to the customer’s whole experience. I have been doing this for quite some time, so I think it is important to keep fresh and to recreate yourself. The most important thing is to have a passion for the job, to love people and be good at listening to what they want. You can’t teach that—it’s something you have or you don’t. And, we always want our guests to feel that it’s their bar—that they own it, not us.” Favorite Part of the Job: “I love connecting with guests—I get my energy from them. We have customers who come back year after year, and I know that’s because of the experience and the people they interact with at our bar, not for the drinks. When I see the look on their faces, I can feel the love. Once I go to work every day, I’m on stage, and it never gets old.” Favorite Drinks: “I like to give my cocktails quirky and memorable names. Two of my favorites are the Don’t Take Me for Granate pomegranate martini and The Mark Avenue. I won the World Class Beverage Program’s Maker’s Mark Manhattan recipe contest in 2009 with that one. I love playing with ideas and balancing flavors. My cocktails are more than just a recipe in a glass.” What F&B Director Arminio Rivero says about her: “Joey is the perfect blend of what it takes to be a great bartender: she has passion for what she does, a great work ethic and a wonderful sense of humor, and she adds her personal flair to every drink she mixes. She also remembers names, and guests remember hers—customers continuously write notes to us about how great she is. We are proud to have her on our team and want her with us for many years to come.” >> Continued on Page 14
Hotel Indigo San Diego Gaslamp Quarter
Background: Began cooking when she was eight, in her native Brazil. Came to Boston at 18; worked in the bars of high-end restaurants and hotels, learning the bartending craft and making a name for herself. Joined the Hotel Indigo San Diego opening team in June 2009. She’s also a member of a special beverage consulting team that provides input and guidance to IHG’s F&B Commandos. Philosophy: “I have a passion for food and beverage and love being creative with fresh ingredients. You can convert anything you can eat into a cocktail. For example, I made a Red Velvet Martini with cream cheese frosting, and I make my own version of Kahlúa. If people like something, I try to make a drink out of it—I’m working on cupcakes now. I also love classic cocktails, but with a twist. It’s important to be consistent with both the quality of the products and the experience we provide our guests—that’s a priority in training my team.” Favorite Part of the Job: “Encouraging customers to try things they haven’t explored before. Having them experiment adds to their enjoyment of the experience in our bar. Of course, providing what the guest wants is most important. I always assure them that if they don’t like a particular drink they try, I’ll make something else.” Most Unusual Drink: Bacon Vodka with Sun-Dried Tomatoes. “I froze the vodka with bacon and then filtered to make it perfectly clear. This was mixed with muddled parsley, jalapeño, lemon juice and simple syrup. The garnish was a sun-dried tomato, Monterrey Jack cheese and two jalapeños on a skewer. It was fantastic—customers loved it!” What F&B Director Derick Frederick says about her: “Adriana is a game changer who’s essential to the beverage program for the Hotel Indigo brand. She takes pride in her work and is a great teammate and leader. We’re lucky to have her as our mixologist and bar manager.” 14
ol Bar Bartender, Splash! Po an Ju n InterContinental Sa o sin Ca Resort &
Background: “I was working as a cocktail waitress here at the InterContinental. One busy July 4th weekend, one of the bartenders didn’t show up for work. I already had some knowledge of mixing cocktails, so I helped my manager behind the bar and really enjoyed it. Then I applied for, and got, the open bartender position. I’ve been with the hotel for 10 years.” Philosophy: “I always try to make the clients happy—to get to know them and help them have fun and feel at home in our bar. By making friends, I may help convince them to come back to our hotel next time they are in Puerto Rico. Also, I am who I am because of the great teachers I’ve had here at the hotel. They’ve shown me so much about bartending and service over the past 10 years.” Favorite Part of the Job: “I love being ‘the one’ running the bar. Taking care of what clients need, working my base of drinks, the experience of people enjoying being at the bar. It gives me pride and makes me feel powerful and appreciated.” Best Drink: “My Mojito and my Caipirinha. When people complain they don’t generally like these particular drinks, I take it as a challenge and invite them let me make one for them. I muddle rather than shake the ingredients in the Mojito, and I use little bits of crushed ice to make the Caipirinha perfectly cloudy. Paying attention to these little details makes the difference—the customers always love my version of these drinks!” What Food & Beverage Director Felix Mulero says about her: “Rosie is a high-energy, outstanding bartender who really loves her job, and she transmits that positive vibe to our guests. Not only does she make great drinks, but she is an amazing sales person for us. We often have repeat guests who ask for Rosie as soon as they arrive at our property. She is a great asset to our hotel.”
InterContin ental Hous ton
Background: Started as a waitress at Red Lobster, later becoming a bartender at the restaurant and then at a country-western club. She joined the team at the InterContinental Houston (which was then a Crowne Plaza) 13 years ago. Philosophy: “Be conscientious—show up on time, be prepared for your shift, know the guest level in the hotel to stock correctly. And we really need to help each other—teamwork makes for success. Most important, pay attention to the guests’ needs, to find out what will make them feel comfortable and at home. For example, we have a lot of international guests who arrive from different time zones. We always try to provide anything special they may need at the bar, even if it’s breakfast in the afternoon. We try to give the guests what they want.” Favorite Part of the Job: “This is such a beautiful property— I really enjoy working here. We have a lot of repeat guests at the hotel. They know me from past visits, even many years ago, and I remember their names, too. That helps keep them coming back!” Best Drink: “It gets really hot here in the summer, and so people enjoy my Cucumber Mojito. I muddle the ingredients well— smashing the cucumber, sugar and lime juice, then mixing it with the rum. It’s refreshing and very popular.” What Food & Beverage Director Danny Estevez says about her: “Sue is the leader of the bar team and the inspiration to all others in the F&B department. She has been nominated as Employee of the Month at least once every year she’s been with us, and she was Employee of the Year in 2009. The reason is because Sue genuinely cares about both our guests and her colleagues. She’s a special person who does a phenomenal job and is a pleasure to work with.”
al InterContinental Montre
Background: Was brought up in the restaurant business— her mom owned three restaurants and other F&B-related businesses. Has been with the InterContinental Montreal since 1992, starting as a hostess and becoming a bartender in 1994. Philosophy: “My motto is ‘a happy guest is a happy bartender.’ What I mean is that, whenever we provide great service, that makes the guests happy and cheerful, which leads to better conversations and a great atmosphere in the bar. This makes the job for a bartender thus more pleasant.” Favorite Part of the Job: “I enjoy being surrounded by people, hearing them talk and laugh, all in a mixture with the music in our bar. It’s also great to meet people from all over the world. Most of all, I like to take care of my guests, and I have a great time doing it. I want our guests to leave with wonderful memories of Montreal.” Favorite Drink: “I love making any cocktail with a shaker, but since I discovered absinthe last year, I now consider our hotel’s absinthe-based cocktails my favorites and my specialty. My very favorite cocktail is the Jacques Cartier Collins, which is made with ABSOLUT Pear Vodka, Limoncello, fresh lemon juice and a drop of absinthe. This is topped with soda or Sprite (depending on the taste of the individual guest).” What Food & Beverage Director Jaimy Polman says about her: “Johanne has the qualities that make a perfect bartender. She knows her drinks, she can read her clients and she really gets to know them. Her smile and service make people want to come back for more: more drinks, more laughs and more time well spent.”
As the weather gradually begins to warm, our thoughts turn to spring, flowers in bloom, love...and weddings. We asked some of IHG’s leading bartenders and F&B Directors to share their favorite spring- and romancethemed cocktails, and to weigh in on trends in libations of the heart.
Superfruit Jalapeño Mojito
Lights Out Over Boston
Hotel Indigo San Diego Gaslamp
InterContinental Boston Nothing says spring more than the buzzing of honeybees. Food & Beverage Director Steve Juscen and his team at the InterContinental Boston have turned to the 50,000-plus honeybee hive residing on the hotel’s rooftop apiary for the key ingredient in several new spring cocktails: honey. The homegrown bee nectar is showcased in delightful drinks developed for each major outlet. In rum-themed RumBa, the Honey and Ginger Caipirinha features ginger liqueur and cachaça, the delicious Brazilian sugarcane spirit. The beverage menu in the hotel’s main restaurant, Miel (French for honey), now showcases L’Orange Miel, made with honey, Clementine slices and Grand Marnier. And in Sushi-Teq, the highenergy tequila bar, Lights Out Over Boston is becoming a favorite—made with Patrón Silver tequila, honey syrup and fresh lemons. 16
Violet’s Passion InterContinental Miami What could make a wedding reception more memorable than a custom, signature cocktail with which guests toast the bride and groom? The trend is catching on across the country, and InterContinental Miami Head Bartender Joey Scorza—who’s developed a following because of her creative concoctions—was asked by a bridal magazine to develop two sample custom nuptial celebration drinks, made to bridal color specifications. She chose a floral theme, using colored sugar on the rim of the glasses to coordinate with flower garnishes. Violet’s Passion features raspberry vodka and Chambord with a violet tucked inside an orchid for garnish. A Sun-Kissed Flower uses green and yellow sugar on the glass rim, to tie into a sunflower or daisy garnish, with citrus and pear vodka and Monin Kiwi syrup as the primary ingredients.
Attracting the one you desire means looking your best, and that calls for watching the waistline. But that doesn’t necessarily mean having to forego delectable cocktails, according to Bar Manager Adriana Tietz of the Hotel Indigo San Diego Gaslamp. She’s introducing a line of signature “skinny” drinks for spring and summer that are low in calories, made with healthy ingredients and off the charts in taste. All are created using TY KU Sake, TY KU Soju (produced from Asian barley) and TY KU Liqueur, which is made from Soju, Asian superfruits and teas. The Superfruit Mojito combines TY KU Liqueur with fresh mint and citrus juices, with a jalapeño slice for a flavor kick. The Skinny Rita blends Herradura Tequila, TY KU Liqueur and agave nectar with fresh lime and ginger root. For the TY KU Collins, Adriana combines fresh cucumber, TY KU Sake, Bombay Sapphire Gin, agave nectar and fresh lime juice for a fitnessoriented refresher. The three drinks, all under 100 calories each, weigh in at 10 to 80 percent fewer calories than their regular counterparts.
C&C Bubbles, A La Mode, La Flora, Vallini With Love InterContinental Montelucia Pop a cork, then add touches of fruit and flowers. Todd DeSilva, Food and Beverage Director of the InterContinental Montelucia Resort & Spa, believes the best cocktail for celebrating love is one that’s simple, based on sparkling wine and accented with lovely symbols of romance. Following that philosophy, Todd and his team created an array of spring specialty drinks designed to make lovers swoon. The Vallini With Love combines Villa Sandi Il Fresco Prosecco with cherry vodka and cherry purée. For the C&C Bubbles, Cava sparkling wine is splashed with Campari, fresh strawberry juice and essence of rose petals. Two other new concoctions focus on white spirits: La Flora’s ingredients include tequila, agave nectar, elderflower liqueur and both lavender and rose petal water. And instead of dessert, have an A La Mode, comprised of raspberry vodka and crème de cassis blended with creamy A La Mode cocktail mixer. Garnish for the glass rim: crystalized rose petal dust.
Visit Spirited online to get recipes for the cocktails mentioned here: www.ihgbeverage.com.
F R A N C E S C O
L A F R A N C O N I
Perhaps great mixologists are born, not made. That certainly
Today, Francesco is in demand as a speaker, seminar presenter,
seems to be the case for Francesco Lafranconi, Corporate
judge for major spirits competitions and consultant to leading
Director of Mixology and Spirits Educator for Las Vegas-based
restaurants and hotel companies such as IHG. A gifted educator,
Southern Wine and Spirits of America. Francesco grew up
he is particularly proud of his establishment a decade ago of the 12-
in the family bar business in the Friuli region of northeastern
week Academy of Spirits, Mixology and Fine Service for Southern
Italy. After attending hotel school, he worked in the bars of
Wine and Spirits. “It’s my opportunity to give back, and it’s very
some of Europe’s foremost hotels, winning several prestigious
satisfying,” he says. “I enjoy mentoring bartenders, whether they
international cocktail competitions. In 2000, Southern Wine
are 21 or 61, and sharing my knowledge and passion for the craft.
and Spirits invited him to the U.S. to take on his current role and
Above all, it’s rewarding to help them gain more self-confidence
continue developing his craft. “A new generation of food and
behind the bar through product knowledge and proper mixology
beverage was emerging in America at the time,” Francesco says.
techniques. I teach them to showcase their abilities as a host as
“Exciting concept hotels such as Bellagio, Mandalay Bay and
well as their upselling and mixing skills.”
the Venetian had just opened in Las Vegas and celebrity chefs were appearing on the scene. Then, over the past decade, U.S. consumers developed a greater acquaintance with international flavors, such as Amari from Italy and spices from the Orient, along with an appreciation for the emerging category of superpremium spirits. Suppliers started to listen. These factors combined to help mixology become more established.” 18
Francesco’s never-ending curiosity about mixology led to his signature line, “We’re not drinking...we’re learning!”, an approach that underlies his philosophy about a product that, as he points out, “has been around for centuries, helping countries define their heritage, culture and lifestyle—think Campari in Italy, vodka in Russia, whiskey in the U.S. I’m fascinated by this fantastic profession. Spirits and the cocktails we create with them are a form of art and liquid expression.”
Cocktail Trendspotting Here are some quick snapshots from Francesco on what’s au courant in the world of spirits: Bitter rush: Bitters are big—spirits manufacturers are adding more and more extractions of botanical flavors to their products. Traditional Italian bitters, such as Averna from Sicily and Amaro Nonino from Friuli, are finding their way into a growing number of drink recipes. Herbs & spices: The kitchen garden connection adds a welcome savory component: lemon verbena, cardamom, thyme, basil, rosemary, camomile, hibiscus. Jet-setter ingredients & spirits: Tokyo leads the international classic cocktail resurgence. Ethnic influences are making further inroads, such as Moroccan chiles, the smoky essence of mescal- and agave-based spirits from Mexico, pisco from Peru and Chile, cachaça from Brazil. Japan offers soju (a rice, wheat, barley or potato-based spirit) and yuzu (a tasty citrus fruit that subs beautifully for lime in a margarita). Catching up with rye: Topping the brown spirits news is the rise of trendy and critically acclaimed American rye whiskeys, such as Bulleit Rye, Wild Turkey Rye and (ri)1, which are among the most widely available nationwide. Lean & healthy: Some white spirits are being produced at lower proofs to yield fewer calories per ounce and a cleaner, lighter drink. Examples: Voli Vodka from Italy and Japan’s TY KU Soju, which has only 68 calories per 1.5 ounce. Healthful, antioxidant ingredients (açaí, pomegranate and mangosteen juice) are hotter than ever. Gin reborn, yummy rum: Though both spirits have been around since the 1700s, gin and rum are going strong, led by exciting and well-executed new flavor profiles such as citrus, lavender and saffron (for gin) and an ever-expanding array of fruit flavors (dragonfruit, mango, lychee) for rum. Colossal combinations: Almost anything goes these days, from beers and bubbly (such as the Velvet Rouge at the InterContinental Times Square, made with raspberry-flavored lambic beer and champagne) to Earl Grey tea as an unexpected cocktail ingredient. Greatly improved mixers, made without high fructose corn syrup, are fueling the experimental flair of bartenders and mixologists everywhere.
It’s a challenge faced by IHG hotel department managers everywhere: how do you ensure every team member is committed to delivering experiences that help create Great Hotels Guests Love? A new approach to service and leadership education is making a difference for IHG hotels that have undergone the process. The program is the brainchild of Andy Stangenberg, president and CEO of Q-Principle, Inc., who combined his hotel background with leading-edge, “blended learning” techniques from the world of educational training. Q-Principle sessions interweave traditional instruction with highly interactive learning, including video, open forum class discussion and using improv actors to role play as guests and managers. The overriding emphasis is on having the learning be fun. “We teach the art of customer care,” Andy says. “We realized there was a need to reach people who are on the frontline in hotels—servers, bussers, room cleaners. Our training focuses on the importance of each individual, which opens up the mindset and activates social skills. If employees believe they are important to the hotel, they will have the confidence to put the guest first.” Q-Principle training engagements include separate sessions with line employees and managers, with emphasis on train-the-trainer for the management teams. The learning consists of two phases. In the first, the focus is on technical skill sets and knowledge-driven performance. “Participants learn by doing and practicing. In addition, we give employees tools to be more effective in their day-to-day work, such as methods for conflict resolution and enhanced social skills,” Andy says. “We stress building respect for team members and managers. At the heart is having them recognize that what they do matters—not just at work, but for their families and themselves.” The second phase of the training zeroes in on developing an emotional connection with guests that helps translate the actions of a job into warm, sincere service. “The guiding principle here is that service starts within,” Andy notes. “The employee is in the driver’s seat, and it’s up to him or her to engage with the guest, identify needs and take leadership action to make a difference.” The Q-Principle team has conducted training sessions at a number of InterContinental, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn and Hotel Indigo properties in the U.S. Results reported have included improved customer satisfaction scores as well as enhanced morale and teamwork. Plans are under way to use the Q-Principle approach in the development of the IHG Bartender Academy for the World Class Beverage Program. “Our goal is to have participants let loose and have fun, and in the process, change their reality,” Andy says. “We want them to leave the training realizing that learning is an ongoing process that they have control over. When customer service and employee morale improve, guest loyalty increases. It’s an important step in changing the culture of any hotel.” 19
Coming up in the next issue of Spirited...
Coca-Cola Aluminum Bottles Are A Hit With Guests & Hotels
Cool & Sexy Since their debut a little over two years ago, the unique aluminum bottles featuring leading brands from the Coca-Cola Company have been in demand by consumers everywhere. IHG restaurants report boosts in beverage revenue after introducing the stylish new packaging, with guests often taking extra bottles home. Now IHG and Coca-Cola are teaming up to take the aluminum bottle wave to a whole new level, with wider availability and exciting new promotions. Read about it in the Summer issue of Spirited!
Jean-Pierre Etcheberrigaray | Vice President of Food & Beverage Laura Hammer | Office Manager Pamela Tweedell | iMi Agency Ann Wilson | Writer & Editor Silvermoss Partners | Design & Layout
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