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 June 2018...

Sales & Marketing: Opinions Matter

Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors manage a complex mix of strategies to attract and convert customers into guests. Part of their expertise includes an awareness of customer behavior during the reservation process, so they can make sure their hotel is favorably positioned. One such trend is the growing popularity of travel review sites. According to one recent survey, 61% of prospective customers consult online reviews in order to validate information about the hotel before making a purchasing decision. Another survey found that the average hotel customer reads between 6-12 reviews across 4-10 properties before making a final decision on where to stay. Similarly, other studies have shown that consumer reviews are a more trusted source of information for prospective customers than other kinds of marketing messaging. In fact, reviews are often considered to be as influential as price regarding whether a customer decides to complete a purchase or not. Plus, travel sites with the most reviews - including recent reviews from satisfied customers and thoughtful responses from staff - were also found to be the most appealing. So having positive reviews on a travel website is essential and can help to increase a hotel's conversion rates dramatically. Of course, there are all kinds of additional marketing strategies for sales and marketing directors to consider - the importance of video and the emergence of live streaming; the implementation of voice search; the proliferation of travel bots; and the development of Instagram as an e-commerce platform. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.