Editorial Board   Guest Author

Mr. Parsons

Brad Parsons

Executive Chef, The Fairmont Chicago, Millennium Park

Brad Parsons, Executive Chef at the Fairmont Chicago, Millennium Park and aria restaurant, first joined the Fairmont team as Chef de Cuisine at the acclaimed aria in 2004. Since then, Chef Parsons has reinvented the cuisine at this luxury hotel with American comfort food inspired by flavors from around the world. Chef Parson's goal at the Fairmont Chicago is to raise guests' expectations about hotel dining. “Food is constantly changing and evolving,” he explains, “and as a chef, you have to change with the times and learn about new products and ingredients. You have to constantly reinvent.” Chef Parsons is always in search of what's new. When adding new dishes to the menu, he solicits input from his cooks, who have a variety of ethnic backgrounds - including Thai, Korean, South American, and Chinese - to give his menu an authentically global feel. Now responsible for a culinary staff of nearly 60, Chef Parsons feels strongly about empowering the people who work for him. During his tenure, he has hired and promoted nearly all of his key staff members. “If you don't hire and train the right people, you're not doing your job as a manager,” he says. “I want my team to be able to make decisions without me and I value their feedback.” An advocate of locally grown and seasonal ingredients, Chef Parsons and his purchasing managers regularly visit local farmers markets - especially the chef's favorite Green City Market - for food served at the Fairmont Chicago, Millennium Park. Chef Parsons earned a degree in hotel and restaurant management from Northern Arizona University, but fixed his sights on becoming a chef after taking a college culinary class. After his first kitchen job preparing breakfasts in Flagstaff, he received a degree from the Culinary Institute of America. Despite the fact that he had never cooked in a professional kitchen until college, Chef Parsons quickly rose through the ranks in some of the country's best restaurants, including Thomas Keller's Bouchon in Napa Valley, Rick Tramonto's Tru in Chicago, and Alan Wong's restaurant in Honolulu. Chef Parsons currently lives in the Taylor Street Neighborhood on Chicago's South Side with his daughter.

Mr. Parsons can be contacted at 312-565-8000 or brad.parsons@fairmont.com

Coming up in August 2020...

Food & Beverage: New Technological Innovations

In the past few years, hotel food and beverage departments have experienced significant growth. Managers are realizing just how much revenue potential this sector holds, both in terms of additional revenue and as a means to enhance the guest experience. As a result, substantial investments are being made in F&B operations as a way to satisfy hotel guests but also to keep pace with the competition. Though it has been a trend for many years, the Farm-to-Table movement shows no signs of abating. Hotel chains are abandoning corporate restaurants and are instead partnering with local chefs to create locally-influenced dining options. Local, farm-sourced ingredients paired with specialty beverages or local wine also satisfies the increasing demand from Millennial travelers who are eager to travel sustainably and contribute to a positive impact. A farm-to-table F&B program also helps to support the local economy, which builds community goodwill. Also popular are "Self-Serv" and "Grab & Go" options. These concepts stem from an awareness that a guest's time is limited and if a hotel can supply them with fast, fresh, food and beverage choices, then so much the better for them. Plus, by placing these specialty kiosks in areas that might be traditionally under-utilized (the lobby, for instance), they can become popular destination locations. Of course, there are new technological innovations as well. In-room, on-screen menus allow guests to order from any restaurant on the property, and some hotels are partnering with delivery companies that make it possible for guests to order food from any restaurant in the area. Also, many hotels are implementing in-room, voice-activated devices, so ordering food via an AI-powered assistant will soon become mainstream as well. The August issue of the Hotel Business Review will report on these developments and document what some leading hotels are doing to expand this area of their business.