Editorial Board   Guest Author

Mr. Absenger

Werner Absenger

Chef de Cuisine, Cygnus 27 at Amway Grand Plaza

Chef Werner Absenger, chef de cuisine, has helped propel Cygnus 27, one of the highest-ranked restaurants in Michigan, into the forefront of the state's premier culinary scene. Located atop the Amway Grand Plaza in Grand Rapids, MI, Cygnus 27 has been a distinguished AAA Four-Diamond restaurant for nine years. The initial Four-Diamond recognition in 2004 was only the beginning as, under Chef Absenger's leadership, Cygnus 27 has been named Restaurant of the Year by Grand Rapids Magazine three times. In 2010, the Michigan Lodging and Tourism Association awarded Chef Absenger the Stars of the Industry Culinary Employee of the Year Award for excellence in the Michigan lodging and tourism industry. Chef Absenger has been with the Amway Grand Plaza for 10 years. A 20-year culinary industry veteran, he has held posts at Alpenrose Restaurant & Cafe in Holland, MI as chef de cuisine and executive chef, and at the Grand Hotel in Mackinac Island, MI where he worked in various positions ranging from chef tournant to banquet chef. Chef Absenger also honed his skills at the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort and Spa at Gainey Ranch in Scottsdale, AZ and at the Hotel Gasthof Gramshammer in Vail, CO. Before joining the culinary team at the Amway Grand Plaza, Chef Absenger was an entrepreneur and operated an organic smoothie bar, Juz C, in Grand Haven, MI. As the owner, he developed the menu, concept, and theme of this healthy establishment from 2001-2003. In his native Austria, Chef Absenger completed a four-year apprenticeship at the Hotel Goldener Ochs in Melk, Austria and attended chef school at Landesberufsschule für das Gastgewerbe in Waldegg, Austria. He later served as a chef in the Austrian military at one of its hospitals in Wien-Stammersdorf before moving to the United States in 1988. A chef by trade and a scientist at heart, Chef Absenger's true passion lies with studying the modulatory effects nutrition and other mind-body treatments have on cancer patients. In 2008, Chef Absenger earned his Bachelor of Science degree in alternative medicine from Everglades University in Boca Raton, FL. In 2010, he earned his Masters of Science in human nutrition from Bridgeport University in Bridgeport, CT. He is currently working towards a Doctorate in mind-body medicine from Saybrook University in San Francisco, CA. As a member of the executive board for the Greater Grand Rapids Food Systems Council, Chef Absenger helped to develop the Cultivating Urban Seeds of Prosperity (CUSP) program in 2007. The organization supports local farmers by providing a market for urban growers to sell their produce to restaurants and other outlets.

Mr. Absenger can be contacted at 616-774-2000 or WAbsenger@amwaygrand.com

Coming up in August 2019...

Food & Beverage: Millennial Chefs Lead the Way

Led by Millennial chefs, hotels continue to foster sustainability, sourcing and wellness within their dining rooms and banquet spaces, and by all measures, this is responsible for an increase in their revenues. In many hotels, the food & beverage division contributes 50 per cent or more to hotel sales and they are currently experiencing double-digit growth. As a result, hotel owners are allocating an increasing amount of square footage for F&B operations. The biggest area of investment is in catering, which is thriving due to weddings, social events and business conferences. Hotels are also investing in on-site market or convenience stores that offer fresh/refrigerated foods, and buffet concepts also continue to expand. Other popular food trends include a rise of fermented offerings such as kombucha, kimchi, sauerkraut, tempeh, kefir and pickles - all to produce the least processed food possible, and to boost probiotics to improve the immune system. Tea is also enjoying something of a renaissance. More people are thinking of tea with the same reverence as coffee due to its many varieties, applications and benefits. Craft tea blending, nitro tea on tap and even tea cocktails are beginning to appear on some hotel menus. Another trend concerns creating a unique, individualized and memorable experience for guests. This could be a small consumable item that is specific to a property or event, such as house-made snack mixes, gourmet popcorn, macaroons, or jars of house-made jams, chutneys, and mustards -all produced and customized in house. One staple that is in decline is the in-room minibar which seems to have fallen out of favor. The August issue of the Hotel Business Review will document the trends and challenges in the food and beverage sector, and report on what some leading hotels are doing to enhance this area of their business.