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 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.