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 February 2020...

Social Media: Social Listening Tools

The reach and influence of social media is staggering. Nearly 3 billion people use social media daily, posting a range of messages, selfies, images, and everything in-between. According to HubSpot, almost 4 million posts are uploaded to the major social networks every single minute! That's an astounding amount of content and it is crucial for hotels to skillfully use social media in order to effectively compete. From establishing a suitable brand identity and voice to creating content across all the major networks (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.), the goal is to actively engage consumers and to eventually convert them to customers. Some hotels are initiating online contests as a way to attract new customers, while others are rewarding customers with discounts who subscribe to the their email lists or follow their social media pages. Another recent strategy is to employ social media listening tools that track what people are posting online about their businesses. These tools allow hotels to monitor - or listen to - what's being said about a brand across the entire social web, and this can prove to be very valuable, unfiltered information. Social listening permits hotels to be aware of people's opinions about their business, industry or competitors, and some of these tools even listen beyond social media platforms. They also monitor publicly available information on blogs, forums, news outlets and websites. Some listening tools are more focused on gathering and analyzing data, while others offer more engagement-oriented features, which allow hotels to interact with people right from the platform. Often the information that is gleaned from these listening tools ends up being the most authentic, unbiased insights a business can get. The February Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to successfully integrate social media strategies into their operations.