Vegetables Take Center Stage in Today's Cuisine

By Paul Hancock Executive Chef, Miramonte Resort and Spa | August 13, 2017

Vegetables are no longer served as garnishes or accompaniments but, center stage in the dining scene in this day. Plate design and bold flavors are more paramount than ever. The "wow" effect is in full effect. Guests are more eager to try something new more than ever before. It is entertainment, so it has to be great and throughout the dining experience.

There is a cultural shift happening right in front of our eyes with vegetables. Vegetables have been the unsung heroes of the plate for many decades. That is changing. I will not enter the realm as to why this shift is occurring but there are probably plenty of reasons. Food evolves, trends evolve, and cultures evolve. From macaroni and cheese, to angel hair pomodoro, to ramen, then back to gourmet 5 cheese macaroni and cheese again. Dating back to Socrates and further, food heals, tonics and tinctures as well as other items were made to heal and fight disease.

Mixologists are crafting some incredibly creative drinks and libations throughout the globe. The use of house made bitters, tonics, herbs, spices, ice in different forms, helps to deliver a world class cocktail. Some are stand alone with bold flavors along with some that are toned down to compliment food pairings. This is incredibly fun way to deliver that "talking point" and keep the guest engaged.

Wines are accented with herbs, berries, vegetables that compliment, add a layer of complexity, and simply tantalize taste buds. Molecular gastronomy has taken a large role with the entertainment aspect of food and beverage concoctions. Marina Mercer, a master mixologist creates and pairs drinks with vegetables and fruits that excite. The fire breathing dragon, one of her creations, envelopes frozen raspberries into the drink, so that when consumed the "smoke" pillows out when you breathe from your face.

Bartenders and Mixologists are pushing the boundaries by creating some stellar drinks to appeal to health conscious as well by adding vegetable components like beet juice, cucumbers and that so special celery juice ice cube showered bloody Mary. Wine and craft beers are developing different flavor profiles and standing the test of time while going down the same path. Citrus flavors seem like a no brainer when added to accent an ipa, chocolate added to a stout, cherry wheat ales to the more adventurous flavorings with notes of mango, watermelon, and so on.

Vegetables tell such a dramatic story. They have essential minerals and nutrients that nourish. We should stop to listen more often. Versatility, sustainability, flexibility are just a few words that come to mind when vegetables are the topic. They tell a story, they bring marriage of flavors in symphonic fashion. They have been the bowties and now are the tuxedos to the main event but, have always been.

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Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. 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.