Editorial Board   Guest Author

Mr. Lynch

Paul Lynch

Chef, FireLake Grill House, Radisson Plaza Hotel, Minneapolis

While phrases such as “farm-to-table” and “locally sourced” are common in today's culinary lexicon, they've been part of a philosophy Chef Paul Lynch has employed since he first set foot in a professional kitchen nearly 40 years ago. With his extensive restaurant and hospitality industry experience, Chef Lynch, who is a Texas native has worked around the country, including in his home state of Texas, Vermont, California, Hawaii, and Minnesota. In each location he's embraced and executed the local cuisine, from regional influences to utilizing local purveyors. “My food has always been a representation of the foods of a region,” he says. “I've always felt it was important to deliver a taste of place, especially in a hotel restaurant. When people travel, they want to say they had a unique experience, and nothing defines a region or culture like its food.” That point of view has served Chef Lynch well in his career, which has seen him run kitchens in hotels including the Four Seasons, the Westin, and the Radisson Plaza Hotel in Minneapolis, home to FireLake Grill House & Cocktail Bar, which opens its second location at the new Radisson Blu Mall of America in March 2013. Chef Lynch assumed the executive chef role for the kitchens at the Radisson Plaza Hotel in Minneapolis in 1999. In addition to putting Lynch at the helm of the hotel's $6 million food and beverage operations, Carlson (now Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group) gave him free reign to create a restaurant that truly served the area. The result is FireLake, which Chef Lynch describes as, “a restaurant about the flavors of real burning wood from the land of 10,000 lakes.” Although he's not technically a native Minnesotan, Chef Lynch understands the food of the North Country as well as anyone, citing influences from the area's Scandinavian, German, and Irish populations. He also pioneered using local products, preferring to purchase game from family-owned establishments, cook with only freshwater seafood, and use ingredients such as locally-harvested grains and wild rice that have long been a source of nourishment for Midwesterners. “It's about taking these ingredients, understanding them, and applying them in modern style,” Chef Lynch says. His commitment to the local food industry extends outside of the kitchen. Chef Lynch is a founding member of Minnesota's Heartland Food Network and is currently collaborating to establish a chapter of the Chef's Collaborative in the twin cities, a group of chefs and purveyors that promote products from the heartland and help make them more available. In 2006 Chef Lynch was honored as a Carlson Fellow; Carlson's highest award, “for creativity and Innovation. In 2008, he took FireLake to the culinary capital of New York City, presenting his Midwestern-rooted cuisine at the James Beard House.

Mr. Lynch can be contacted at 612-339-4900 or paul.lynch@radisson.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.