Editorial Board   Guest Author

Mr. Raz

Jonathan M. Raz

Director of Food & Beverage, Waldorf Astoria Orlando

With nearly 20 years of experience in food and banquet operations, Jonathan M. Raz brings a passion for innovative cuisine to his position as director of food and beverage at Waldorf Astoria Orlando and Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek. Mr. Raz manages the F&B operations of the hotel complex, including 12 dining outlets, in-room dining service for 1,500 guest rooms and an extensive banquet facility. Offering over eight years of experience as director of food and beverage under the Hilton umbrella, Mr. Raz plays a pivotal role in the property's renowned culinary program, where he works with more than 150 chefs to develop delectable dining experiences and creative group catering menus that continue to earn top honors in food and beverage excellence. Mr. Raz's greatest joy comes from developing original restaurant and bar concepts that provide guests with a customized dining experience. A natural leader, Mr. Raz relishes mentoring and collaborating with his culinary team, helping them hone their skills and push creative boundaries. Exposed to the food operations business at an early age by his father, a food and beverage director himself, Mr. Raz constantly challenges his chefs to develop new approaches to their cooking with a focus on creating ahead-of-the-trend menus that still evoke the comforts of classic dishes. While the majority of his day is spent in operations, Mr. Raz makes time to interact with guests and strives to provide an unforgettable dining experience for every visitor who sets foot in his restaurants. Mr. Raz began his career as the banquet manager at DoubleTree Guest Suites in New York City, working his way up to assistant director of banquets and events at the Waldorf Astoria New York, where he oversaw the operation of presidential dinners and exclusive galas. He continued his career with Hilton as assistant director of food and beverage at Hilton Americas and as director of food and beverage at Hilton Baltimore before his most recent position as director of food and beverage at Hilton Orlando, overseeing all kitchen operations, budgeting and restaurant concepts. Mr. Raz made a name for himself as a culinary leader when he helped open Hilton Baltimore, recruiting all leadership positions and directly supervising the executive chef, director of catering, director of banquet operations and assistant director of food and beverage. An avid cook, Mr. Raz brings his culinary expertise home with him, where he enjoys spending quality time with his wife and three children, dining out and finding time for an occasional round of golf.

Please visit http://www.hilton.com for more information.

Mr. Raz can be contacted at 407-597-5500 or jonathan.raz@hilton.com

Coming up in September 2019...

Hotel Group Meetings: Uncommon Destinations

The last few years have been good to the Hotel Group Meetings industry and that trend is expected to continue into 2019. Planners are brimming with confidence due to an expanding economy and increased job creation, which typically results in a boost in corporate meetings. Given this promising outlook, planners are trying to outdo themselves to satisfy the high expectations of their clients. One notable trend is to integrate unusual settings into the meeting experience, hosting groups at local zoos, aquariums, museums, event centers, or other outdoor facilities. The goal is to embrace uncommon destinations, rather than a typical hotel conference room, so that meetings can be memorable, unique and stimulating. This is also part of another trend which is to support all things local - from hosting events at landmark city venues; to catering through local restaurants, food trucks and microbreweries; to hosting off-site excursions like agri-tours, athletic events or scenic 5k routes. However, though the setting might be spectacular, there are still some bedrock components that must be provided to ensure a successful meeting. Free, high-speed Wi-Fi is still one of the most requested services. Planners have to make sure that a comprehensive communication infrastructure is in place so clients can easily connect - and stay connected - to the network throughout the entire meeting experience. Also, technology tools can be used to streamline the booking, registration, and check-in process, and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) materials can be utilized to ensure seamless access to conference events. There are also numerous software tools that encourage audience participation, as well as integrating polls, Q&A, surveys and games into speakers' presentations. The September Hotel Business Review will examine issues relevant to group meetings and will report on what some hotels are doing to promote this sector of their operations.