MRM News Bites: #BookResponsibly PSA, Achievements in Catering and More Impossible

In this edition of MRM New Bites, we feature the CATIE Awards, lessons in reservation making and new restaurant openings.  Send news items of interest to or

CATIE Awards

Catersource (CS2017), and educational resource and expansive network for the catering and events industry, in conjunction with Achievement in Catering & Events (ACE) Awards and International Catering Association (ICA) Catered Arts Through Innovative Excellence (CATIE) Awards, recognized top talent and achievements of several industry leaders across the catering and events community. Winners for each award category were honored during Catersource 2017, which took place March 12-15 at the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. 

Caterer of the Year: Marcia Selden Catering (Robin and Jeffrey Selden in the center

Achievement in Catering & Events (ACE) Award Winners: These awards recognize companies that have shown exemplary achievements in the catering and events industries.   

  • Catering, East Region, Operations Over 2 Million: Bold American Events 
  • Catering, West Region, Operations Under 2 Million: Cartewheels Catering 
  • Catering, West Region, Operations Over 2 Million: 24 Carrots 
  • Catering, East Region, Operations Under 2 Million: Tastebuds Custom Catering 
  • Events, East Region, Operations Under 2 Million: Jaclyn Watson Events 
  • Events, East Region, Operations Over 2 Million: Sodexo, Museum of Science and Industry
  • Events, West Region, Operations Under 2 Million: Kristin Banta Events 
  • Events, International, Operations Under 2 Million: Cocoon Events Management Group
  • Events, West Region, Operations Over 2 Million: A Fare Extraordinaire 
  • ICA Catered Arts Through Innovative Excellence (CATIE) Award Winners: Presented by the International Caterers Association (ICA), these awards recognize exemplary culinary production at an event.
  • Best Barbeque or Picnic Menu: Purple Onion Catering Company 
  • Best Buffet Presentation and Menu: Good Gracious! Events 
  • Best Celebration Cake: Culinary Capers Catering and Special Events 
  • Best Dessert: A Joy Wallace Catering, Design & Special Events 
  • Best Food Trend Incorporation: Catering by Design (CO) 
  • Best Hors d’oeuvre: Catering by Design (CO) 
  • Best Main Course Plate Presentation: Thomas Caterers of Distinction 
  • Best Plated Menu: Epicurean Group 
  • Best Tablescape Design: Culinary Capers Catering and Special Events 
  • Caterer of the Year: Marcia Selden Catering & Events 
  • Chef of Year: Keith Lord, The Wild Thyme Company
  • Innovative Mixology: Thomas Caterers of Distinction 
  • Signature Caterer For Best Event: The Painted Table 
  • Signature Caterer For Best Multiple Day Event: Vicky Crease Catering + Events
  • Signature Caterer For Best Wedding: Thomas Caterers of Distinction 
Chef of the Year: Keith Lord, The Wild Thyme Company

Catersource 2018 will return to the Las Vegas, NV, from February 18 – 21, 2018.  

OpenTable’s #BookResponsibly PSA

OpenTable unveiled a “book responsibly” campaign spotlighting the impact of no-shows and late cancellations on the restaurant industry. OpenTable partnered with celebrity chef and restaurateur Michael Voltaggio to release a public service announcement video above to advocate for diners to book responsibly by canceling or modifying their reservation when their plans change.

“Many people simply don’t realize the impact that no-shows and late cancellations have on the restaurant industry,” said Scott Jampol, Senior Vice President of Marketing at OpenTable. “At OpenTable, we believe we have a responsibility to help build awareness of the issue and continue to leverage our technology and diner network in ways that reduce no-show rates and mitigate the impact of late cancellations.”

“It might seem harmless to bail on a reservation but if you can’t make it, letting us know ahead of time makes a world of difference,” said Michael Voltaggio. “If we’re constantly working to address no-shows on a daily basis, our business suffers. That’s why we are asking diners to book responsibly.”

Voltaggio isn’t alone. Kim Alter from San Francisco-based Nightbird notes that she wishes “diners knew how hard it is to run a restaurant” and that canceling at the last minute or no-showing “makes it even harder.” And Michael Davis from Sprout LA counsels diners to “not be afraid to cancel your reservation – we appreciate a cancellation more than a no-show.”

OpenTable’s no-show rate in the U.S. is approximately 20 percent lower than the no-show rate for diners who book via phone. OpenTable believes that this lower rate is helped by making it easy to modify or cancel a reservation with a couple taps of their phone and by its email and mobile notification reservation reminders. To help refill tables freed up due to late cancellations on restaurants, OpenTable immediately surfaces the newly available tables to its millions strong diner network.

To watch the PSA video and learn more about the importance of booking responsibly and the impact of no-shows and late cancellations on the restaurant industry, click here.

Impossible Foods Scales Up

Impossible Foods launched its first large-scale production facility this week, which could enable the company to make at least 1 million pounds of meat per month, directly from plants, when fully ramped up.

The goal for the East Oakland site is to make enough Impossible Burgers to serve four million people per month within a year. The site has the capacity to make 250 times more Impossible Burgers than the company is currently making in its headquarters in Redwood City, Calif., and at a small facility in New Jersey.

Impossible Burger

“Our mission to transform the global food system is urgent, and the opportunity is huge, so we are embarking on one of the most ambitious scale-ups of any startup in the food industry,” Impossible Foods CEO and Founder Patrick O. Brown, M.D., Ph.D., said today at the inauguration ceremony. “Our goal is to make delicious, sustainable, nutritious and affordable meat for everyone, as soon as possible.”

Job Creation in East Oakland

Impossible Foods, which selected Oakland due to its proximity to the company’s headquarters across the San Francisco Bay in Redwood City, has already started hiring in Oakland and will continue to do so throughout 2017. The company expects to hire nearly 80 additional employees by the time the 67,000-square-foot plant is running at full capacity.

“As a city with a long and rich manufacturing tradition and a proud history of leading social, environmental and economic justice movements, I’m thrilled to welcome a leading-edge company like Impossible Foods to Oakland,” said Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf. “Their new facility will add to the fabric ofOakland’s industrial corridor in East Oakland, bringing job opportunities for our residents and greater sustainability and innovation to our local and global food systems.”

In addition, Impossible Foods hired Christopher Gregg as Senior Vice President of Supply Chain and Manufacturing.

Gregg, a manufacturing and supply chain executive with experience in consumer product goods companies including Bare Snacks, Babyganics andDel Monte, will begin next month. Gregg will supervise the continued buildout of the Oakland site, a state-of-the-art modernization of a brownfield factory formerly occupied by the bakery company Just Desserts.

The construction is fully funded by new institutional and individual investors, including San Francisco-based Open Philanthropy Project and Singapore-based investment company Temasek. The investments will also accelerate the development and commercialization of multiple products, in addition to the flagship Impossible Burger.

Impossible Foods’ longstanding investors include Khosla Ventures, Bill Gates, Google Ventures, Horizons Ventures, UBS and Viking Global Investors.

Big Taste, Small Footprint

The Impossible Burger is the world’s only burger that looks, handles, smells, cooks and tastes like ground beef from cows — but is made entirely from plants, with a much smaller environmental footprint than meat from animals.

The Impossible Burger uses about 75 percent less water, generates about 87 percent fewer greenhouse gases and requires around 95 percent less land than conventional ground beef from cows. It’s produced without hormones, antibiotics, cholesterol or artificial flavors.

The Impossible Burger is debuting at more and more fine-dining restaurants and multi-unit chains throughout the United States. When the Oakland site is fully ramped up, Impossible Foods will be able to supply Impossible Burgers to more than 1,000 restaurants — up from eight today.

After Oakland is fully ramped up, Impossible will introduce Impossible Burgers in more restaurants, as well as introduce the flagship product in retail and international markets. The company is developing additional plant-based meat and dairy products.

Impossible Burger at New Restaurants

Also this week, the Impossible Burger will debut on the menus of three popular restaurants throughout the San Francisco Bay area:

  • KronnerBurger, 4063 Piedmont Ave, Oakland
  • Public House at AT&T Park, 24 Willie Mays Plaza, San Francisco
  • Vina Enoteca, 700 Welch Rd, Palo Alto
  • In development since 2011, the Impossible Burger debuted in July 2016 in New York City at Chef David Chang’s restaurant Momofuku Nishi. 

In addition, the Impossible Burger is available at acclaimed restaurants Jardinière and Cockscomb in San Francisco, and Crossroads Kitchen in Los Angeles. It’s available in New York at the Michelin-starred restaurant PUBLIC and its sister bar, The Daily, and at meat-centric bistro Saxon + Parole.

Last month, the Impossible Burger debuted at its first multi-unit chain — the award-winning restaurant chain Bareburger. For now, Bareburger serves the Impossible Burger exclusively at its outlet near New York University’s campus. As the facility ramps up, more outlets in the 43-unit Bareburger chain can add Impossible Burger to their menus.

Halcyon Bar Expands into Dallas

Dallas-based Falcon Realty Advisors advised Halcyon Coffee Bar + Lounge on a five-year, 3,600-square foot lease for its first location in the concept’s expansion to Dallas. Halcyon Coffee Bar + Lounge has officially opened at 2900 Greenville Avenue, formerly the location of Cafe Brazil for the past ten years. Michael Walters, President of Falcon’s Restaurant & Entertainment Group, and Madison Partners’ Jon Hetzel negotiated the deal.

“It was important to Falcon to understand Halcyon’s vision and find a space that catered to their versatile coffee and cocktail lounge concept, while also capturing the authenticity of their brand,” said Walters. “The location we secured has accomplished that – the building’s architecture has a unique story and the neighborhood surrounding Greenville Avenue is incredibly energetic.”

Founded in 2001 by partners John Long and Kris Hardy, the Austin-based coffee bar and lounge has a location in San Antonio and San Diego.

“We love the lower Greenville community and Halcyon’s coffee shop and cocktail bar fusion concept had yet to exist in the area. Unlike many coffeehouse interiors that are outfitted with dark wood and metal, Halcyon’s design aesthetic is bright and playful,” said Kris Hardy, Co-Owner of Halcyon Coffee Bar + Lounge. “Moving into a new city is exciting and also nerve-racking, but we’re confident our first Dallas store will expand upon the success we’ve been able to achieve in Austin and elsewhere over the last 15 years.”

In addition to Halcyon’s staple menu consisting of coffee, alcoholic beverages, snacks, salads, sandwiches and dessert, the Dallas menu will also feature flatbreads and an expanded brunch menu. 

Falcon’s Restaurant and Entertainment Group represents many flourishing emerging brands, such as Grub Burger Bar, Pink Taco, Publico Kitchen & Tap, Modern Market and Bulla Gastrobar. Other clients in Falcon’s impressive portfolio consist of top chain retailers, including Whole Foods, Junior’s Restaurant and Bakery, Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers, Twin Peaks and iPic Theaters.

New Bobby Van’s

Celebrating its 48th Anniversary this 2017, Bobby Van’s Steakhouse has earned its place as a venerable New York institution, thanks in part to a continued commitment to cooking techniques perfected years ago by the founding fathers of New York steakhouse cuisine. Bobby Van’s has grown from its original home in Bridgehampton, NY, and now includes a repertoire of ten restaurants that offer the refined style of a classic New York City steakhouse.

The newest addition is Bobby Van’s on 40 Central Park South, a highly coveted location just steps away from the Plaza Hotel, and overlooking Central Park. The new restaurant will open its doors officially in late March 2017, inviting diners to the same exquisitely prepared dining experience as its sister restaurants, in addition to a special Saturday and Sunday brunch. 

The new restaurant added Executive Chef Ted Rozzi who has crafted a menu of delectable dishes such as Crispy Calamari, Lemon Pepper Shrimp and Maxie’s Meatballs for Starter and Veal Milanese, Chilean Seabass and N.Y. Sirloin Steak for Entrée. The restaurant also offers a wide variety of dining options outside of prime beef and seafood, including supremely-prepared pastas, wood-fired pizzas and freshly tossed salads. To accompany the meal, diners have a choice of delicious sides, which include Cauliflower Carbonara, Thick Cut Applewood Bacon and Sautéed Mushrooms.

Bobby Van’s décor is elegant yet warm with white table cloths and wood accents. It is the ideal dining destination for an intimate dinner as well as for larger groups or special occasions. The Central Park location offers beautiful views in a convenient and central location. 

Bobby Van opened his first restaurant in Bridgehampton, New York in the summer of 1969. After two successful decades, he sold this restaurant to a group of four restaurateurs: Joseph Smith, Joe Phair, Rick Passarelli, and Joe Hickey who opened a second Bobby Van’s Steakhouse location in the Helmsley Building on Park Avenue. The Bobby Van’s Family has grown to also include Bobby Van’s Park Avenue on East 46th Street, Bobby Van’s Steakhouse and Grill on Broad Street in the Financial District, Bobby Van’s Grill on East 54th Street, two Times Square locations on West 45th Street and West 50th Street, two Washington D.C. locations, an airport restaurant in JFK’s Terminal 8, a take-out burger joint, BV’s Burger, which is also located in Times Square, and the latest addition on 40 Central Park South. 

Adoro Lei Makes Fashion Statement

Adoro Lei, a fresh, upscale pizzeria and Italian restaurant located in Hudson Square, NYC, is tapping into the creative talents of fellow New Yorkers to keep things fresh. This time, the Hudson Square hotspot collaborated with well-reviewed comic artist and illustrator, Creees, to revamp the restaurant’s uniforms.

Alongside Creative Director Michael DiBugnara, Creees created an original design incorporating trademark NYC staples with the Hudson Square neighborhood as a backdrop. The city’s historic championship parades (affectionately called the “Canyon of Heroes”) inspired Adoro Lei’s very own “Canyon of Adoration.”  

Art has remained at the core of Adoro Lei’s identify from its opening. The restaurant features an exclusive collection designed by Philadelphia-native Dessie Jackson that visually merges the restaurant’s overall aesthetic of love, sensuality and adoration. It has also become a neighborhood favorite for local influencers, artistic trendsetters and up-and-coming DJs – namely the blossoming DJ duo Angel and Dren (recently featured in Vogue, Highsnobiety & CNN). Art, food and entertainment have proven to be a winning a recipe for the downtown eatery that hopes to continue to play a big role in NYC’s diverse culture. 

The collaboration with Creees will revamp the restaurant staff’s uniforms and bring to life the distinct artistic concept that makes this NYC pizza restaurant so unique. According to DiBugnara, “I believe that adding layers of inspiration for our patrons elevates the overall experience. My favorite NYC restaurants and bars, always have a combination of great sounds, tastes and visuals. Any time I decide to create something new, the bar is set very high, and I am incredibly particular about who I involve. It is about their spirit and temperament being in line with a project, that in short, is about people adoring each other.”

Creees adds, “What I would like the customers to feel from my artwork is all the fun that is happening in the drawing. From the characters’ costumes to the small food characters, I hope everyone can see and enjoy the diversity. I tried to incorporate Adoro Lei’s logo, color scheme, and characteristics in the drawing. The whole feel of the piece (parade) seemed to fit the restaurant’s atmosphere; elegant but fun.”

Twins Grill Opens

Delaware North-Hell’s Kitchen Partners, the Minnesota Twins and Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport celebrated the opening of Twins Grill, a new sports bar and restaurant themed after the Major League Baseball team. The restaurant, which officially opened in mid-February, is located in Concourse C of Terminal 1.

“The Twins are a beloved institution in the Twin Cities and a key part of the identity of the region,” said Kevin Kelly, president of Delaware North’s travel division. “We want everyone passing through the airport to get a little taste of the ballpark with a great meal and experience what it’s like to be a Twins fan by soaking in an atmosphere that showcases the team’s past and present.”

“The Twins Grill is a natural fit for airport customers,” said Dennis Probst, chief operations officer for the Metropolitan Airports Commission. “Its extensive food and bar offerings have proven popular with families and business travelers alike, especially over the past several very busy weeks at MSP.”

Twins Grill, at 6,100 square feet, can seat up to 220 guests amidst a ballpark atmosphere with an interior designed after the Twins’ home at Target Field, where Delaware North’s Sportservice division operates food, beverage and retail operations for the team. The restaurant’s décor features graphics celebrating Twins’ history, pieces of team memorabilia and a unique wall treatment created with 3,000 baseball bats.

“The Twins are proud to be part of the airport’s dynamic lineup of offerings,” Twins President & CEO Dave St. Peter said. “While the Twins Grill showcases the history of our franchise as well as the award-winning Target Field experience, we are equally excited to highlight sports of all kinds for travelers passing through MSP.” 

The restaurant’s menu was designed with assistance from the chef team at Target Field and will include classic ballpark fare such as nachos, cheese curds, onion rings and chicken quesadillas. A full bar will feature a rotating tap of 16 beers, including many local brews, and a grab-and-go kiosk will also be available for travelers in a time crunch. Featured local beers include Bent Paddle Brewing Co., Fulton Brewery, Grain Belt, Hamm’s Brewery, Lift Bridge Brewery, Summit Brewing Co. and Surly Brewing Co. 

Founded in 1915, Delaware North has global operations at high-profile places such as sports and entertainment venues, national and state parks, destination resorts and restaurants, airports, and regional casinos. Delaware North has annual revenue of $3 billion in the sports, travel hospitality, restaurants and catering, parks, resorts, gaming, and specialty retail industries.

ICI Cooks Up Success

When Horry Georgetown Technical College opened its $15 million International Culinary Institute of Myrtle Beach (ICI) last fall, its leadership hoped to change the food business and how it operates along the Carolina coast with a world-class culinary education experience for students, locals and visitors. 

Now in its second semester, the school is already on its way to reaching this lofty goal. The Grand Strand campus’ sophisticated facilities have attracted new talent at the faculty level, and its highly trained graduates are in great demand by food service establishments around the country. 

In March, ICI will welcome Nathan Hashmonay, an American Culinary Federation Certified Executive Chef, to its team. Hashmonay, formerly on faculty at the Art Institutes of Tampa and Charlotte, will teach ICI’s restaurant capstone course, designed as a final review and opportunity for students to build confidence as a chef in a restaurant service setting.

Students will gain great value from Hashmonay’s extensive experience in Mediterranean and French cuisine, according to ICI Executive Director Joseph Bonaparte. Hashmonay was motivated by an opportunity to join the new wave of culinary education. 

“Nathan embodies the philosophy we have cultivated at ICI and our commitment to cook in healthier ways using local, fresh ingredients,” said Bonaparte. “Our students will learn a great deal about today’s professional kitchen under his tutelage.” 

The national restaurant community has taken notice, too. After its first semester in the new facility, ICI placed 100 percent of its graduates in industry-related positions. ICI-trained students are working in the growing dining scene of Myrtle Beach, across the South, and with top chefs in New York City, including graduate Luke Dowdy, who is Executive Sous Chef for Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery & Café. 

“I work with one of the best chefs in the world, and that’s a direct result of my studies at ICI,” said Dowdy. “The school’s philosophy of teaching – including hands-on training in the classical techniques – prepared me for the rigor and pace of a world-renowned kitchen in one of the busiest cities in the world.” 

Students can earn an associate degree in programs including Baking and Pastry Arts, Kitchen and Food Preparation Techniques, Culinary Arts Technology or Professional Cooking for about $10,000, much less than the national average. Currently, the school is preparing 135 students to work in top-tier kitchens, many of which are popping up in the Myrtle Beach area. The Grand Strand area alone houses 2,400 restaurants that employ 23,000 people. Restaurant and food service jobs make up 12 percent of the total South Carolina economy. 

“Our hope is to train students who might go off and work all over the world, but will come back to Myrtle Beach in a few years to cultivate a locally based, high-quality, chef-driven food scene,” said Bonaparte.

Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce President Brad Dean agrees with Bonaparte and actively promotes ICI as one of many reasons to visit the Myrtle Beach area. 

“The Culinary Institute adds to the tourist experience, and its students will keep the local dining scene vibrant and new,” said Dean. “The partnership among Horry Georgetown, the state of South Carolina and the Myrtle Beach area will continue to reap many benefits for area tourists, citizens and Horry students.” 

The International Culinary Institute at Horry Georgetown Technical College opened a new $15 million building in Myrtle Beach last fall. About 140 students are enrolled in associate degree and certificate programs. Internships and scholarships are available for students who qualify.

sbe in Advanced Discussions with Hakkasan Group

she is in advanced discussions to merge Hakkasan Group into the sbe family.

sbe Founder and CEO, Sam Nazarian stated, “sbe is in advanced discussions with Hakkasan Group regarding a potential merger. As currently contemplated, sbe would welcome Hakkasan’s global portfolio of prestigious restaurants and best in class nightlife assets into sbe’s international platform of lifestyle hospitality and entertainment assets to create the most dynamic hospitality, residential, restaurant and entertainment company in the industry. The merger is expected to close within 60 days.”

Established in 2002 by Founder and CEO Sam Nazarian, sbe is a privately-held, leading lifestyle hospitality company that develops, manages and operates award-winning hotels, residences, restaurants and nightclubs. Through exclusive partnerships with cultural visionaries, sbe is devoted to creating extraordinary experiences throughout its proprietary brands with a commitment to authenticity, sophistication, mastery and innovation. Following the acquisition of Morgans Hotel Group, the pioneer of boutique lifestyle hotels, sbe has an unparalleled global portfolio featuring 23 world-class lifestyle hotel properties in 9 attractive gateway markets and more than 136 global world-renowned hotel, entertainment and food & beverage outlets. The company is uniquely positioned to offer a complete lifestyle experience – from nightlife, food & beverage and entertainment to hotels and residences, and through its innovative customer loyalty and rewards program, The Code, as well as its award-winning international real estate development subsidiary, Dakota Development – all of which solidify sbe as the preeminent leader across hospitality. sbe will continue its expansion with 13 hotel properties opening in the next two years (some with residences), including the SLS Park Avenue, SLS Seattle, Mondrian Doha and Mondrian Dubai. The company’s established and upcoming hotel brands include SLS Hotel & Residences, Delano, Mondrian, Redbury, Hyde Hotel & Residences, Clift, Hudson, Morgans, Royalton, Sanderson and St Martins Lane. In addition, sbe has the following international acclaimed restaurants and lounges: Katsuya, Cleo, The Bazaar by José Andrés, Fi’lia by Michael Schwartz, Umami Burger, Hyde Lounge and Skybar. 

TastePlease Debuts

TastePlease, a Copenhagen initiative that offers food lovers across the globe a new platform for social dining and interaction launched this week. Experienced chef and former restaurant owner Frank Lantz is the man behind the project.

“TastePlease will revolutionize the way we dine, meet and interact,” he stated. “The new social platform makes it much easier for people with a passion for food to come together – it’s a worldwide dining club where everybody is invited.”

TastePlease’s food universe is mainly focused on sharing in-person experiences. It is all about using modern technology to socialize the old fashioned way.

Connecting people through food 

From blinis to burgers, food has the power to bring us together. Today’s busy lifestyle, however, makes it hard to schedule meals with family and friends as often as we might wish.

The new TastePlease platform offers its users the opportunity to create, host and join culinary events anywhere, anytime. Professional chefs can find tasters to try out new menus, hospitable home cooks can fill the seats around their dining table, and hungry foodies can find their next unique meal.

“The search for authentic food experiences was essential to me when I first got the idea for TastePlease,” said  Frank Lantz. “I wanted to make it easy for travellers to get a real taste of local culture and find something like that little family restaurant we all look for when we go abroad.”

‘O Munaciello Debuts in Miami

‘O Munaciello just opened its first U.S. outpost in Miami’s MiMo District. Recreating and interpreting traditional Neapolitan dishes, ‘O Munaciello is a full-menu restaurant and pizzeria that is considered one of the most celebrated restaurants in Florence, Italy.  And it’s now offering something that Miami hasn’t seen too frequently before – thin crust black “carbon” pizza.

Granted carbs are carbs, but black dough has several health benefits. At ‘O Munacielo, the menu offers black “carbon” pizza made from activated charcoal infused dough. The charcoal dust colors the dough, and does much more, such as aiding with indigestion, reducing intestinal problems, lowering cholesterol levels and helping to treat hangovers. In turn, it makes us feel much less guilty about consuming carbs, (especially in Miami’s humid/tropical climate) one slice at a time.

‘O Munaciello opened its doors on Friday, March 3rd at 6425 Biscayne Blvd., in the heart of the MiMo District in Miami. Recreating and interpreting traditional Neapolitan dishes, ‘O Munaciello is a full-menu restaurant and pizzeria that is considered one of the most celebrated restaurants in Florence, Italy. ‘O Munaciello uses local produce and fine imported goods to create dishes found nowhere else in the South Florida region. Its pizzas are even baked in a made-to-measure handmade brick oven, imported from Naples, Italy.

At the helm of ‘O Munaciello Miami’s kitchen is Pizza Master Carmine Candito, who comes from a long line of Neapolitan restaurateurs and pizza makers. He grew up working at his father’s popular restaurant “Un Posto Al Sole” in Naples, Italy, eventually becoming a pizza maker for two leading restaurants in the region. Candito later moved to Florence, Italy, to work at Le Scuderie which was then transformed into ‘O Munaciello over 10 years ago. ‘O Munaciello Florence was built in an annex of the 17th century Florentine Santo Spirito Basilica, one of the most famous and historic churches in Florence, designed by the Renaissance genius, Brunelleschi, who also designed the iconic dome of the city’s main cathedral, the Duomo. The Florence restaurant is in what used to be the Santo Spirito Basilica’s “pilgrims’ hostel” used to accommodate travelers and the faithful.

Elia Cui serves as Executive Chef for the Miami ‘O Munaciello. Originally from the Genoa region of Italy, Cui has experience working in some of the most popular dining venues across Italy, including Porto Cervo (Billionaire), Milan (Byblos), Florence (Pizzeria ZeroZero, Ristorante IX) and Pisa (Villa Lena) before working at ‘O Munaciello Florence.

The design of ‘O Munaciello Miami is a modern reinterpretation of the Florence outpost with recognizable elements throughout, including the 24’ vaulted brick ceilings, warm, pastel colors on the walls and trim and custom-made artwork from artisans in Naples, Italy.  Even the plates, chairs and tables were handmade and imported. The 1,000 square foot indoor space will feature 60 seats.

“Every corner of the restaurant has been carefully curated to give the true essence of the warmth of Southern Italian culture,” said restaurateur Valentina Borgogni, who owns and operates both the Florence and Miami locations. “The restaurant welcomes guests to celebrate any occasion and take in its distinct sensory aspects from the food to the décor and the music. We chose to open our first-ever outpost in Miami because the warm culture and climate is similar to Naples, Italy. Guests will enjoy the authentic hospitality and culinary offerings we will bring to vibrant Miami.”

As soon as guests enter ‘O Munaciello Miami, they are greeted by a handcrafted life-sized statue imported from Naples, Italy of the “‘O Scartellat,” meaning a hunchback. According to Neapolitan lore, touching or rubbing the back of the statue brings good luck. Similarly, looking over diners from the ceiling vaults of the main room is a life-sized sculpture of “O’Angelo”, the Angel of the Nativity. Also created in Naples out of porcelain and papier mâché, it is an important reflection of the traditions and beliefs of the region.

As guests take their seats at ‘O Munaciello, they are enveloped in authentically Italian sounds, smells and sights, to feel like they are dining at an authentic restaurant in Naples, Italy. Printed on the tablecloths are “La Smorfia”, The Book of Numbers, a colorful chart which assigns numerical values for dream symbols. La Smorfia, which has drawings of everyday objects in life, like a bird, hat, knife, coffee grinder and even a mother with child, has defined lucky numbers for generations of Neapolitan. “I wanted to bring the genuine culture and customs of Naples to Miami with La Smorfia, so that guests can play and interpret their dreams while dining, just like in our Florence restaurant,” explains Borgogni.

The lighting and decor at ‘O Munaciello has been carefully selected to create a memorable dining experience for all. The art of Neapolitan porcelain/terracotta is best known by the works of the artisanal craftsmen of Sciu Scià e Maestri Ferrigno. The materials have been the same for 150 years – terracotta, wood and the famous silks of San Leucio in Caserta. The small figures and scenes of the pieces at ‘O Munaciello Miami are original and were uniquely made for the restaurant – each depicting the people and daily life in Naples in the 1800s. The works of Sciu Scià e Maestri Ferrigno are exhibited in Paris, New York, Arles, Malmoe and Stuttgart and have won the “Premio San Gregorio Armeno” Award and “The First Award Europe” for their craft.

Sushirrito Opens Second Manhattan Spot

Sushirrito, the original sushi burrito concept, has opened its second location in Midtown Manhattan at 1450 Broadway, serving up nine varieties of culinary-driven sushi burritos, while using responsibly-sourced seafood and carefully crafted Asian and Latin flavors.

Sushirrito has counter-style ordering, so patrons place their order while watching their sushi burrito being made with fresh ingredients—perfect for those looking for a convenient, efficient and delicious lunch spot betweenBryant Park and Times Square.

Sushirrito® – The world’s first sushi burrito concept serves made-to-order, hand-held sushi burritos in delicious Asian and Latin flavor combinations. Peter Yen and Ty Mahler founded Sushirrito in 2011 in San Francisco, California. The idea for Sushirrito arose when Yen couldn’t find a quick, quality sushi lunch spot while working in downtown San Francisco. Since 2011, Sushirrito has expanded to eight locations – six in the San Francisco Bay Area and two in New York City, including the new Midtown Manhattan opening.

Pierre Pollin Named Legendary Chef

Pierre Pollin, Kendall College Culinary Instructor and professional chef of 43 years, will be inducted into the Chicago Culinary Museum and Chef’s Hall of Fame as this year’s “Legendary Chef.” As a member of the 2017 inductee class, Chef Pollin joins the ranks of some of the city’s most notable chefs and industry leaders.

“To be inducted into the Chicago Culinary Museum and Chef’s Hall of Fame is a tremendous honor, and I attribute my success to the people who have helped me succeed in the culinary industry,” said Chef Pollin. “From the first time I stepped foot in a restaurant as an employee, I learned that it takes a team to deliver dishes that are going to leave a lasting impression on our guests. I am proud to have the opportunity to share my knowledge and expertise with up and coming student chefs at Kendall College.”

During his culinary career, Chef Pollin has worked in Michelin-starred restaurants, been featured on national television and received numerous awards. Since 2005, he has been an adjunct faculty member at Kendall College, teaching and mentoring the next generation of culinary leaders.

Chef Pollin has taught at Kendall College as culinary instructor for more than 12 years.

“Pierre is a terrific teacher and an even better person,” said Chris Koetke, vice president, Kendall College School of Culinary Arts. “He has dedicated his life to his craft and made a lasting impression on Kendall College students, alumni and our faculty. I could not be prouder to call him both a colleague and a friend. The Chicago Culinary Museum and Chef’s Hall of Fame is lucky to have Pierre as an inductee.”

JetBlue Teams with Milk Bar

JetBlue introduced JetBlue Mint partner, New York City-based Milk Bar as the newest JetBlue Mint partner. Beginning in April, all JetBlue Mint travelers will be greeted with a pre-arrival Milk Bar cookie. On Mint redeye flights Milk Bar’s HardBody green juice (a selection from Milk Bar’s “LIFE” line of healthy products) and well-known Bagel Rounds will be served in a Milk Bar to-go bag. These new additions come as JetBlue continues to refresh its Mint experience as the premium service touches down in new destinations from east to west coast this year.

Milk Bar was founded in 2008 by award-winning pastry chef and MasterChef judge Christina Tosi. The culinary empire and lifestyle brand focuses on putting a playful spin on familiar home-style desserts from soft serve to custom cakes, as well as savory snacks. Each Mint customer will receive a delicious pre-arrival treat from Milk Bar featuring a signature cookie in a custom gift box. Cookie flavors will vary by departure with options including Milk Bar’s Confetti Cookie, Cornflake Chocolate Chip Marshmallow and famous Compost® Cookie.

“I spend a lot of time on airplanes lately,” said Christina Tosi, founder and CEO of Milk Bar. “My secret travel trick when traveling to our Milk Bar stores and kitchens in NYC, DC, Las Vegas and beyond is to sneak a Milk Bar cookie on board to help me power through the flight. That’s why I was beyond pumped when JetBlue approached us with the opportunity to make their Mint experience a little sweeter. Whether it’s one of our signature Milk Bar cookies, Hard Body cold-pressed juice, or everything bagel round after a redeye, Milk Bar has you covered – on the ground or all the way up at 30,000 feet!”

 “We have some of New York’s best hometown brands on board JetBlue Mint and Milk Bar will fit right in,” said Jamie Perry, vice president of marketing. “The bakery, known for its delicious delights, broad culinary following and loyal fan base compliments Mint’s unique menu and will have our customers tickled Milk Bar pink with every sweet or savory treat they receive.”

Berasategui Joins Ccilu Footwear as a 2017 Brand Ambassador

Chef Martín Berasategui has joined Ccilu Footwear as a 2017 Brand Ambassador,  according to Ccilu’s North American subsidiary, Ccilu USA. The Basque chef is owner of an eponymous restaurant in Lasarte-Oria (Gipuzkoa), Spain, which has been awarded three Michelin stars since 2001. Owner of thirteen restaurants, Chef Martín holds eight Michelin stars in total, more than any other Spanish chef and ranking third in the world for the most stars held. 

Chef Martin Berasategui

“We are honored to have Chef Martín join us as a Ccilu 2017 Ambassador,” said Ccilu founder Wilson Hsu. “His journey reflects our belief that liberating the spirit sets the course for progress.” Ccilu’s new Horizon Collection tagline is “liberate yourself.” Chef Martin joins 5-time ISAF World Champion and 4-time Olympian Iván Pastor as a Ccilu Ambassador.

“My parents fought hard to get me to dedicate myself toward another occupation, because this life has always required great sacrifice,” said Chef Martín, who, at the age of 14, began to work in his parents’ restaurant in Donostia-San Sebastián, the capital of Spain’s Basque province. “But the lure of the kitchen was in my blood and all I wanted to do was cook.” Chef Martín, who has appeared on Master Chef, has restaurants in Barcelona, the Canary Islands, Dominican Republic, Mexico and Costa Rica.

“I am very proud to be a Ccilu Brand Ambassador,” he said. “This campaign demonstrates our shared philosophy that we achieve excellence through perseverance. Our attitude, innovation, ethics and our work in the field help us achieve our aims.”

Taking it Personnely

Cameron Mitchell Restaurants appointed Kevin Flannery, a Certified Sommelier and Specialist of Wine and Spirits, as the new General Manager of Ocean Prime New York. He joins the Cameron Mitchell Restaurant Group Property after ten years of experience in high-end restaurants around the country, including L.A., D.C. and Columbus.

Kevin Flannery

Flannery will shepherd the Midtown steak and seafood house into its second year with his expertise in wine, spirits and hospitality, as well as his hands-on approach with guests and associates alike.

“We are thrilled to bring in such young, vibrant talent as Kevin to our Midtown New York location,” said David Miller, President and COO of Cameron Mitchell Restaurant Group. “We expect his enthusiasm for the industry and wealth of knowledge will help propel this location even further and continue to establish it as Midtown stalwart for fine dining.”

“I am excited to be joining the strong team at Ocean Prime New York and to be working hand-in-hand with Executive Chef Eugenio Reyes to continue to create extraordinary dining experiences,” Flannery said.

He replaces Zach Montgomery, who had served in the position since the restaurant opened in the fall of 2015 and recently took on the role and responsibility of Regional Director at Ocean Prime.

Renowned hotel brand and management company Dream Hotel Group is pleased to announce the appointment of Jeff Lee as Director of Food & Beverage. Lee will assist with the overall direction of food and beverage for the company and its brands: Dream Hotels, Time Hotels, The Chatwal and Unscripted Hotels, working on the various restaurant and bar concepts within the hotels and strengthening culinary partnerships across all four brands. 

Jeff Lee

His key areas of focus include concept and menu development, kitchen design based on elevated functionality and cleanliness, and attaining sales and profitability goals for each concept. Lee will also be responsible for identifying, hiring and training senior food and beverage positions for all properties worldwide, in addition to performing regular site visits to ensure the highest level of operating standards are met.  

Lee brings nearly 20 years of experience as a chef and culinary executive to Dream Hotel Group. Most recently, he worked for the acclaimed Hillstone Restaurant Group where he held various senior management positions, including Executive Chef for nearly fifteen years, and played a key role in restaurant design and construction with a focus on kitchen design for multiple location in the United States.

“We are delighted to welcome Jeff Lee to the team as Director of Food & Beverage,” said Dream Hotel Group CEO Jay Stein. “He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to our culinary concepts and will play a key part in our growth and development in new markets by providing guests with authentic local dining experiences.”

“Dream Hotel Group is celebrated for its highly activated and thoughtful dining and nightlife programming,” added Jeff Lee, Director of Food & Beverage, Dream Hotel Group. “I’m honored to be part of the team bringing the best of the best experience to its guests across the globe.”

Dream Hotel Group recently announced $1.5 billion in new hotel development with ten hotels opening in new destinations worldwide by 2020, including Dream Hollywood, Unscripted Durham, Dream Oceanami Villas & Spa, Unscripted Cocobay Danang, Dream Nashville, Dream Dallas, Dream Palm Springs, The Chatwal Maaga Maldives, Dream Gasveli Maldives and Dream Doha. The company plans to sign more than 150 hotels and resorts across all its brands over the next four years, continuing to solidify its burgeoning global portfolio.

Sofitel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills welcomed Pete Manfredini as the hotel’s new Executive chef. A culinary craftsman with over thirty-five years of professional experience, Manfredini brings a unique cooking style inspired by his Italian roots and strong emphasis on local seasonality.

Raised by his grandparents just outside Chicago, Manfredini began his culinary journey at the young age of six. With the desire to teach self-sufficiency Manfredini’s grandfather began teaching him how to cook and by the time he turned 11, Manfredini had earned his first job at a local Italian tavern.

Restaurant Le Jardin

Manfredini further developed his culinary skills and passion for cuisine through his travels, living in various culinary capitals across the U.S. and the World including Seattle, San Francisco, Chicago and Italy. Manfredini also spent in Napa Valley, where he worked at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone and was mentored by several renowned chefs. It was here where he also perfected his own Tuscan version of the southern Italian specialty – fig salami. Such experimentation is common for Manfredini, who does not shy away from testing out new recipes such as his duck and goose prosciutto and blue cheese butter.

While influenced by various cultures and cuisines including Cajun, Creole and French, Chef Manfredini defines his personal cooking style as “Mediterranean” and often incorporates cooking essentials such as onions, garlic, leaks, bacon and olive oil into his dishes. Manfredini continues to look forward to blending his techniques and specialties with the local, organically grown produce and sustainably raised organic meat that California cuisine is known for. Chef Manfredini brings his unique touch and exceptional Italian culinary skills to the hotel’s signature California French restaurant, Estérel, to create delectable meals guests will savor and remember for times to come.

Tiffany Stith

Lawry’s Restaurants Inc. promoted  Tiffany Stith to President and Chief Operating Officer. 

“With 25 years of experience in leadership and business management, Tiffany’s promotion is not only a milestone for her career, but also a milestone for Lawry’s Restaurants,” commented Richard Frank, CEO. “This marks the first time in the 95-year history that a woman and non-family member has held this position and it signals the valuable role that Tiffany plays in our company.”

Tiffany Stith’s career with Lawry’s began in March of 2004 as the Human Resources Manager. Her dedication to her role and decision to go back to school in 2007 to earn an MBA from Pepperdine University with an emphasis in Leadership and Organizational Development started her on a path of well-earned growth from Director of Human Resources in July of 2008 to Vice President of Human Resources in 2012.

“I truly believe in the future of this organization and its ability to change and grow,” commented Stith. “I admire and respect the 95 years of history and culture and look forward to upholding those standards through the warm hospitality we passionately extend to every guest we serve and I couldn’t be more excited to work with this talented, engaged and committed team of co-workers.”

As an active member in the hospitality industry and integral part of the Lawry’s team, Tiffany not only serves on the Advisory Board for the California School of Culinary Arts (Le Cordon Bleu), the Los Angeles Restaurant Human Resources Forum and the Association of Hospitality Recruiting Executives, but brings a passion for her work that has earned her the respect and trust of the organization.

Advanced Fryer Wins White Glove

Advanced Fryer Solutions, a  provider of safety and recycling solutions for cooking oil for restaurants and major facilities, announced today it has won several major national awards including the highly coveted “White Glove” award for cleanliness from its franchisor, Filta Environmental Kitchen Solutions.

The Cleveland-based company which services restaurants, stadiums, amusement parks and other facilities in Summit, Cuyahoga, Lake, Geauga, Erie and Lorain counties won awards for:

  • Highest Overall Sales  
  • Highest Sales – Fresh Cooking Oil  
  • Highest Sales – Waste Cooking Oil  
  • Highest Per Van Sales all Services  
  • 1.5 Million Dollar Club 
  • The White Glove Award for Outstanding Field Inspection  
  • “We are especially proud of the White Glove Award because a big part of our business is cleaning and cleanliness,” said Terry Walkerly, president of Advanced Fryer Solutions. “Every year we come back from our conference with quite a few awards.”

The company focuses on northeast Ohio and is looking to expand to other areas.

Clients include a long list of elite companies and venues such as Aramark at Quicken Loans Arena home of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Delaware North at Progressive Field home of the Cleveland Indians, Aramark at First Energy Stadium home of the Cleveland Browns. Clients also include Bon Appetit at Case Western Reserve University, Barrio Restaurant group and Michael Symon restaurants.

“We help facilities managers and restaurant owners improve their worker safety and reduce their costs of cooking oil,” said Walkerly. “We provide a complete turnkey solution for management of fryers and cooking oil.I think we are successful because we empower our people to execute on our core values of being knowledgeable professionals, who practice open and honest communication, take ownership, continuously improve and get it done. Our clients’ then can do what they do best which is provide the best quality product to their customers and protect the environment by recycling cooking oil. If you treat clients and the environment with respect, you will build a successful business.”