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If your first thought is 'Mojito!' when you see this picture, then you're on the right track.
Since last summer, the Westin New York Grand Central has quietly been working on a modest but respectable rooftop veggie garden way up on the hotel's 41st floor. Located smack in the middle of midtown (the Chrysler Building is so close you can touch it), it seems like an unlikely place to be growing…well, anything. But urban farming is trendy these days, and a hotel's gotta go what a hotel's gotta do, right?
383 feet above Manhattan, ten dirt-filled tubs with arugula, mesclun lettuce, rosemary, heirloom tomatoes, and "mojito mint" are being overseen by the hotel's Executive Chef, Brian Wieler (pictured), who tends to his green leafy sprout-lings like a proud dad. And not one to cut corners, Chef Wieler has also ensured the garden is 100% organic, with only organic plants, soil and fertilizer being used. And now, as spring gets going, he is starting to harvest some of the mini-crops.
Hotel Chefs / Hotel Restaurants / Ritz-Carlton Hotels / San Francisco Hotels / California Hotels / → All Tags
Here's the latest happening in the luxury hotel world as told by JustLuxe's own Lena Katz. Got a question about luxury hotels, the travel biz, and where to stay? Send it in and we'll have Lena answer it.
A recent dinner at the Ritz-Carlton San Francisco’s swank Parallel 37 food-geeked us out, thanks to new chef Michael Rotondo’s tendency to incorporate the most exotic produce items in California into his tasting menu. Torpedo radish? Smoked sunchokes? Arugula blossoms? It’s all coming at ya…and it’s good.
Chef Rotondo, who recently arrived from Chicago where he cooked under Charlie Trotter for eight years, admitted when he wanders through the San Francisco area farmers markets, he often doesn't recognize some of the stranger fruits – and when that happens, he usually buys the questionable item, takes it back to the kitchen, and figures out a tasty use for it.
We asked him to identify seven awesome produce items he’s cooking with right now, and tell us what the heck to do with them
Fermented Black Garlic: Ferment whole bulbs of garlic at high temperature, and they’ll turn black and taste sweet and syrupy, with hints of licorice and balsamic. Black garlic isn’t the prettiest veggie in the drawer, but it adds a complexity to a dish that raw garlic can't match. Most Asian markets carry black garlic. We have it on the lunch menu currently - blended into a light aioli and used on our albacore tuna sandwich.
Fantasy Friday / Hotel Desserts / Hotel Jewelry / Four Seasons Hotels / Manhattan Hotels / Proposal Hotels / Hotel Chefs / → All Tags
This holiday season, we know there's going to be a good deal of marriage proposals. But not every gift has to begin with Kay. In fact, if you've got the dosh, and a few minutes for some Fantasy Friday dreaming, we've got a sweet little tidbit to share.
Salvatore Martone, the Executive Pastry Chef at the Four Seasons New York, has created a decadent “$20,000 dessert” that highlights a sparkling diamond from Leviev, one of the world's largest privately held diamond polishers and cutters.
So if you're thinking of asking for her hand in marriage, here's one way to do it!
These images from the James Hotels website don't specify which space is which, but we know that there'll be at least two restos to check out--the first being the signature one for the hotel, Florida Cookery.
Like the name suggests, it will serve up "hyper-regional Florida fare" and be helmed by local chef Kris Wessel. If his low-key cool Red Light Little River over on Biscayne Boulevard is any indication, this place is going to make quite a splash. (Red Light is one of the few amazing restaurants in Miami that doesn't give you sticker shock.)
Miami Hotel Mambo / Hotel Burgers / Hotel Restaurants / South Beach Wine & Food Festival Hotels / Hotel Chefs / → All Tags
Miami hotels are sold out this weekend, thanks to the circus that is the South Beach Wine & Food Festival. Most of the big events, like tonight's Amstel Light Burger Bash are sold out and not even your concierge is likely to get you into the tents.
One hotel, though, is coming to the rescue of hungry hotel guests and members of the public alike. The Ritz Carlton South Beach--whose front yard of beach is home to the Burger Bash tent--is serving its own Burger Bash contest entry at the DiLido Beach Club. Tonight.
Hotel Chefs / Hotel Restaurants / Andaz Hotels / Manhattan Hotels / HotelChatter Interviews / → All Tags
The Andaz food scene has pretty much always been a source of pleasure for us. Whether we were plotting how to sneak those North Fork potato chips into our bag without anyone noticing, or salivating over cinnamon donuts at the Andaz Wall Street farmer's market—we generally know we're going to get well-fed.
When Andaz 5th Ave told us they were appointing a new Executive Chef, we were curious to learn a little more about the guy. So we asked Chef Vincent Muraco, who started in 1993 as Chef Tournant at Park Hyatt San Francisco, all the relevant questions, starting with:
HC: What is it that you love about cooking in hotels?
Chef Muraco: Hotels are really exciting for me because every day is different. There is so much going on in all the different outlets, it never gets boring or repetitive. I love to travel, and the travel benefits with Hyatt are great!
Still planning for a May 2012 opening, Atlantic City's newest hotel, Revel, will be recruiting the services of Iron Chef winner Jose Garces for several of its dining options. Having successfully launched three restaurants inside the recently-opened JDV's The Saguaro (including a coffee take-out counter), Garces is introducing another trilogy into the 47-floor, ocean-facing tower.
A tapas bar (Amada), a whiskey bar (Village Whiskey), and a margarita bar with Mexican street food (Distrito Cantina) will help jazz up the AC scene this spring, along with the hotel's dozen other restaurants, three nightclubs, shopping mall, spa, two theaters and (of course) casino.
Garces, who has been selected as the hotel's "gastronomic cornerstone," lives on a 40-acre Pennsylvania farm with his wife and kids in Bucks County—just a quick two-hour drive from the hotel. Maybe if we're lucky, he'll be trucking over some home-grown cabbage and tomatoes for those Distrito Cantina tacos!
Japanese-born chef Alan Wong has spent years building a legacy as one of the most talented and innovative chefs in Hawaii. His Oahu restaurant, Alan Wong's, was ranked twice by Gourmet magazine as one of the top ten best restaurants in America. Now, the master will be turning his attention to the Grand Wailea Resort for a new "Asian street food"-inspired upscale restaurant—to be named, awesomely, Amasia.
The name refers to the possible future merging of the Asian and North American continents. Which is actually fitting for Wong's style, which likes to borrow a little from both cultures. Wong recently entered into an agreement with Grand Wailea to take over their Japanese kaiseki restaurant Kincha, which closed in 2009. Currently undergoing a $2 million renovation, and with Wong's team set to arrive in January to start experimenting in the kitchen, the restaurant will re-open as Amasia in February.
It was hardly punishment for the 45 executive chefs who got to enjoy a ten-day tour last month throughout French vineyards, farms and restaurants. Their parent company, Omni Hotels had been so pleased with the success of 2008's similar "Flavors of France" campaign—which followed a separate voyage to Spain in 2006—that they wanted to give their chefs a refresher on the basics. You know: champagne making, grape harvests in Bordeaux, mustard preparation, and Palais des Thés tea training.
The usual stuff.
But it is the guests of Omni who will be the ones benefitting from the chefs' newfound inspiration. For the seventh installment of 'Flavors of France,' new menus are already being rolled out at the various hotels, featuring French cuisine and fine wines—so you can reap the rewards of their culinary escapade (and not have to worry about trekking through caves or trudging through vineyards). Ready for some Poêlées de Saint-Jacques à la Provencale? We thought so.
iPad Hotels / Hotel Food / Hotel Chefs / InterContinental Hotels / IHG / Hotel Cookbooks / Hotel Books / → All Tags
In other hotel food news today, InterContinental Hotels announced that they will be issuing an e-cookbook named Flavors At Your Fingertips. Hm, kinda makes us think of an IV drip. But nevermind, this all fits in with IHG's reputation for being among the first hotel company to really integrate the wondrous tablet into their amenities.
Available to download for free, the unique app compiles 32 classic recipes—taken from 24 IHG properties around the world—that users can browse using a number of cool, easy-to-follow parameters. Want to search by recipe name? Easy enough. Want to spin the globe to pick your cuisine type? Spin away! Feeling undecided and want to "be inspired" with a surprise recipe? IHG's got you covered there, too.
Interviews / Curtis Stone / Celebrity Chefs / Hotel Chefs / Indigo Hotels / Manhattan Hotels / Hotel Food / → All Tags
Stone enjoying some Risotto Milanese, catered by Cafe B inside the Hotel Indigo Chelsea
In another life, we might have rolled our eyes at the thought of interviewing some pretty boy celebrity chef who makes a living cooking (and eating) gourmet food on national TV. But in the case of Curtis Stone, who showed up at the Hotel Indigo Chelsea on Friday to promote a local food campaign ("Locals Know Best"), we sat up to listen.
During our chat, the well-traveled chef name-drops a few of his fave NYC spots, professes his love for English Afternoon Tea, and explains why The Standard requires a certain "mood."
How did this partnership with Indigo come about?
I'm a huge advocate of local food, local produce, local chefs, local restaurants, so we decided to do a "Locals Know Best" campaign, which is just an extension of sourcing local ingredients. But it's also trying to bring in a bunch of local knowledge to each of the [Indigo] properties. I think the most important thing when you travel is to get a local flavor when you're there. Otherwise, there's no point in traveling, for both business and pleasure.
Craving Chinese food in the City of Light? Tough luck. Paris, a city whose food landscape is dominated by Michelin-starred giants and scads of butter, butter, butter, has a slim selection "World" options for those who grow weary of eating confit something-or-other meal after meal. Yet, Paris is making an effort to break away from its Escoffier-centric roots, with fusion restaurants and diverse foreign cuisines garnering some attention as of late.