MRM News Bites: Investing in Torchy Tacos, Cult Wines and BURG is Back

This edition of MRM New Bites includes  FABI Award news, Torchy Tacos, promotions, openings and new products. Send news items of interest to Modern Restaurant Management magazine’s Executive Editor Barbara Castiglia at

Torchy Tacos Attracts Investment

Torchy’s Tacos, a fast-casual restaurant serving untraditional tacos, received a significant minority investment from General Atlantic. General Atlantic joins the five founding partners of the restaurant chain as shareholders. Torchy’s was founded in Austin in 2006 by former corporate chef Michael Rypka, who was inspired by a love for tacos and a passion for experimenting with food to bring an untraditional taco experience to the people of Texas.

 To help cultivate the dining experience and expand the business, Rypka was then joined by Farrell Kubena, Vice President of Business Development, Rebecca Kubena, Vice President of Finance, Jason Wald, Vice President of Operations, and Alfonso Angelone, Vice President of Technology. Today, Torchy’s has 46 locations across three states. 

“Thanks to all of our taco junkies, Torchy’s has experienced incredible growth in the past 11 years,” said Michael Rypka, Founder and Vice President of Marketing & Culinary at Torchy’s. “We are excited about how the partnership with the General Atlantic team will help us continue to grow our business while staying committed to doing what we do best, which is to serve our guests ‘Damn Good Tacos’.”

“We are excited to partner with Torchy’s to continue to cultivate and expand the beloved brand’s passionate customer base,” said Andrew Crawford, Managing Director and Global Head of General Atlantic’s Retail & Consumer sector team. “We admire the management team’s deep ambition and believe the authenticity of Torchy’s uniquely positions the concept to be successful across a wide-ranging demographic of customers and geographies.” 

“Torchy’s Tacos’ innovative flavors and food combinations have enabled the company to reach a growing market of fast-casual diners,” added Shaw Joseph of General Atlantic, who leads the firm’s efforts in restaurants. “We believe that the combination of GA’s industry resources and expertise, as well as our global brand-building experience, will help us to grow Torchy’s into a category leader, while still remaining true to the original mission of the brand.”

In conjunction with General Atlantic’s investment, Todd Diener, restaurant industry veteran and former President of Chili’s, a leading brand of Brinker International, one of the world’s leading casual dining restaurant companies, will join the Torchy’s Board of Directors. Andrew Crawford and Shaw Joseph, both senior leaders on General Atlantic’s Global Retail & Consumer sector team, will also join the Board. Torchy’s founder and partners will collectively remain majority shareholders in the company. 

General Atlantic was advised by Financo and Torchy’s was advised by North Point Advisors. The transaction is expected to close in the third quarter.

BURG Reopens in Newark

Along with the arrival of warmer weather, everyone who works, lives and/or plays in downtown Newark can look forward to the return of BURG. The fast-casual eatery located in Military Park reopened May 1 for lunch and dinner.

The 40-seat restaurant and 100-seat outdoor bar, which took a brief winter hiatus, is the first fast-casual concept from the team of chef/owner Chris Siversen and restaurateur Marc Haskell of  Maritime Parc in Jersey City’s Liberty State Park. 

NRA Honors Wild Flour with FABI

The National Restaurant Association (NRA) has presented Wild Flour Bakery its prestigious 2017 Food and Beverage (FABI) Award for their Pizza Dough and Hoagie Dough products.  Wild Flour Bakery will be showcasing their full line at the NRA/Hotel-Motel Show® 2017 at McCormick Place in Chicago, Ill., May 20-23.

“The FABI Awards offer restaurant operators an inside look at the future of food and beverage as the industry continues to innovate and move forward,” Atour Eyvazian, Convention Chair for NRA Show said in a statement.  “It’s very exciting to discover new flavors, on-trend menu items and delicious food that’s both nutritious and allergy-friendly.”  Recipients of this year’s FABI Award were chosen based on their positive benefits and innovation to restaurant operators and consumers by an independent panel of experts representing a variety of both commercial and non-commercial industry segments.

“Wild Flour is honored to receive this award. It validates our efforts and commitment to raising the expectations of how truly delicious—not just tolerable—gluten free food can be,” says Wild Flour CEO and Product Developer Kim Desch. “In an industry trending toward freshly-prepared, clean foods, our doughs give operators the same menu creativity of a wheat dough with a taste and texture their diners can’t distinguish from wheat. If a chef can make something with wheat, he or she can now create the same experience in a gluten free version, without compromising on flavor, texture, or menu flexibility.  And, we’re the only dough able to take the fast-casual, high-heat pizza ovens…beautifully.”

Shake Shack Names CFO

Shake Shack Inc. appointed Tara Comonte to serve as the company’s Chief Financial Officer, effective mid-June 2017. Tara joins Shake Shack’s executive leadership team, and will be responsible for leading financial operations across the Company, as well as providing overall strategic direction along with the Company’s CEO, Randy Garutti.

She brings to Shake Shack more than 15 years of international finance and operations experience, including strategy development and execution, accounting, tax, treasury and investor relations, plus business intelligence and technology.

Randy Garutti, CEO of Shake Shack, stated, “I am excited to welcome Tara to the Shake Shack leadership team as CFO. Her breadth of experience, together with her innovative and results-oriented mindset make her the right person to help lead and champion Shake Shack’s incredible growth ahead. I know Tara will be an outstanding addition to Shake Shack’s unique people culture, as well as helping us define and execute against our sizeable growth opportunity.”

Prior to joining Shake Shack, Comonte served as Chief Financial & Business Affairs Officer and Executive Vice President at Getty Images, having joined in April 2013 as Chief Financial Officer and Senior Vice President. Earlier in her career, Comonte served as Chief Financial Officer at McCann Worldgroup, the world’s largest marketing communications business and part of Interpublic Group (IPG), a Fortune 500 publicly-traded company. Previously, she was a key founding member of Mediabrands, IPG’s award-winning media group, managing more than $30 billion of billings globally, serving there as Global CFO and COO. Tara brings a clear track record, from both Getty Images and IPG, of having delivered successfully against a global growth agenda with significant positive impact on business results.

Comonte was the first CFO to be inducted into the American Advertising Federation Hall of Achievement, received the Industry Innovator & Quantum Leap Award from Advertising Women of New York (AWNY), named a Young Global Leader at the World Economic Forum, and is a Crain’s New York Business “40 under 40” awardee.

“Shake Shack has built an incredible brand, delivered impressive expansion and growth, all while maintaining its core values. I have admired the business from a distance and am now thrilled to join the team. There are so many opportunities that lie ahead for Shake Shack, they’re just getting started, and I am fortunate to be part of the next phase of that journey,” said Tara Comonte.

Jacks Monterey Debuts

The AAA Four Diamond Portola Hotel & Spa, overlooking Monterey Bay and Fisherman’s Wharf, completed a $6 million dollar lobby renovation, and introduced a new lobby bar/restaurant, Jacks Monterey, top photo.

The new restaurant and lobby bar welcomes patrons for lunch and dinner in the redesigned atrium lobby. San Francisco-based Puccini Group designed the space with an eye for the inspirations and colors found across Northern California’s Monterey Peninsula. Jacks Monterey evokes the spectacular scenery that has made this area a world-famous vacation destination: Modern furnishings reflecting the weathered woods of the nearby docks and canneries, the crisp blue tones of the Pacific Ocean, and the pink and sage flora that dots the coastline. Chef Danny Abbruzzese’s California Cultural Cuisine reflects the melting pot of ethnicities that is exemplified in both California and America

Paradita Eatery Opens

Chef Carlos Altamirano, opened his sixth concept in the Altamirano Restaurant Group: Paradita Eatery, a fast-casual concept serving modern Peruvian street food in the bustling Public Market Emeryville. “Paradita” means “little market” in Peruvian Spanish slang—a nod to the eatery’s sister restaurant, Parada. He is the owner and operator of Mochica in Potrero Hill, Piqueos in Bernal Heights, La Costanera in Montara, Parada in Walnut Creek, and Sanguchon food trucks that serve the Bay Area,

“Paradita embodies the welcoming, cheerful and authentic spirit of a street market, which is an integral part of daily life in Peru,” said Chef Altamirano. “Fast-casual Peruvian food is a relatively new concept, but we are excited to lead the charge and expand our offerings in the Bay Area.”

Located at the front entrance of the Public Market, Paradita offers casual, open seating throughout the restaurant in plain view of the kitchen, as well as outdoor tables and indoor bar seating. In in 2010, Chef Altamirano founded Alta Farm in Half Moon Bay, Calif., a single-acre plot dedicated solely to producing the spicy rocoto variety of pepper, a foundational ingredient in Peruvian cuisine. Previously available only as a frozen import from South America, the rocoto pepper, grown from seeds brought in directly from Peru, is used liberally at Paradita.

Designed by ASD | SKY and Crome Architecture, and inspired by Chef Altamirano’s vision, the interior of Paradita is bright and inviting. Featuring a high ceiling and mix of steel and recycled and reclaimed oak furniture from Berkeley’s The Wooden Duck, with pops of vibrant colors throughout, the intimate atmosphere is further accentuated by several custom pieces by Bay Area artists Letty Samonte and Bridget Moser.

Founded by Chef Carlos Altamirano and his wife, Shu Dai, Altamirano Restaurant Group has earned a reputation for exemplary Peruvian cuisine at its San Francisco restaurants Mochica and Piqueos, La Costanera in Montara, Calif., Parada in Walnut Creek, Paradita in Emeryville, and Sanguchon food trucks that serve the Bay Area. The next restaurant, the full-service Barranco, will debut in Lafayette in Summer 2017.

VizEat and Virtuoso Partner

VizEat, an immersive food experience platform with locals, and Virtuoso®, a global network specializing in luxury and experiential travel, formed a new relationship that provides Virtuoso’s 15,200 travel advisors with access to VizEat’s curated food experiences. 

VizEat boasts 22,000 hosts in over 110 countries offering unique culinary experiences (many occur in the host’s home): this could be sharing a dinner, teaching a cooking class, a delightful food tour, a delicious wine tasting and much more.

VizEat joins Virtuoso’s collection of 1,700 of the finest luxury hotels, resorts, cruise lines, airlines, tour operators and other suppliers in 140 countries. Virtuoso agencies sell more than (U.S.) $21.2 billion annually, making the network the most significant player in luxury travel.

Cece Drummond, Virtuoso’s managing director, Destinations & Experiences, said, “Virtuoso is incredibly selective with the new partners it accepts, as they must share our commitment to exceptional client service and unparalleled offerings. VizEat’s innovative concept is a perfect fit with two trends Virtuoso has observed growing of late: culinary travel and the desire to enjoy authentic local experiences. VizEat provides the ability to bring destinations to life through food, allowing our advisors to design truly unique experiences that connect their clients to the local people and the culture on a different level.”

VizEat co-founder and CEO Jean-Michel Petit added, “We’re thrilled to partner with Virtuoso, a company which represents the very best in travel. It’s a great match for both of us: Virtuoso’s advisors use their global connections to plan the most memorable experiences for their clients and VizEat is aligned in this search for unforgettable and authentic moments.”

Star of the Bar

The National Restaurant Association® announced the five finalists of the 2017 regional Star of the Bar competitions, who will fly to Chicago to face off in a live event on May 21 at BAR 17, the premier beverage-alcohol event, for a chance to win the coveted Star of the Bar title and $5,000 grand prize.

Presented by the National Restaurant Association and United States Bartenders’ Guild, Star of the Bar tasked competitors in five culinary cities—Boston, Chicago, Miami, Austin, and San Francisco—with creating an innovative cocktail for local judges. The Star of the Bar finals will feature an all-star panel of judges, including “World Class Bartender of the Year” Charles Joly; award-winning author and President & Master Mixologist of Creative Cocktail Consultants Brian Van Flandern; and Tony Abou-Ganim, a three-time winning contestant on “Iron Chef America,” and author of the Modern Mixologist. CEO/Founder of Rockit Ranch Productions Billy Dec will serve as emcee for the cocktail showdown.

The annual Star of the Bar regional competition series kicked off in Boston at the New England Food Show, with regional competitions concluding at Rye in San Francisco. The complete list of regional finalists competing for the Star of the Bar title at the NRA Show this May include:

  • Boston Finalist: Tenzin Samdo

Restaurant/Bar: Tavern Road, Boston, MA

Winning cocktail: “Little Hut on Mitchell Road,” a take on the classic Pina Colada recipe, made with Privateer Rum; housemade coconut pineapple milk, garam masala spices, Lune d’Abricot brandy, orgeat, and Peychaud’s Bitters, garnished with cherries and dried flowers 

  • Chicago Finalist: Luke Edson

Restaurant/Bar: The Berry & Rye, Omaha, NE

Winning cocktail: “Typhoon,” gin-based cocktail, created with muddled cucumber, housemade kaffir-lime leaf-coconut milk syrup, and lime juice, with a weaved cucumber ribbon garnish

  • Miami Finalist: Morgan Zuch

Restaurant/Bar: Datz, Tampa, FL

Winning cocktail: “Perky Punch,” a tequila-based cocktail made with coffee-infused honey, crème de peche, cold-brewed coffee, and orange bitters served over a smoked, cold-brewed ice sphere, with a pickled peach garnish

  • Austin Finalist: Nathan Reffell

Restaurant/Bar: Marriott Marquis Houston’s The High Dive, Houston, TX

Winning cocktail: “The Garden Party,” a Hendrick’s gin-based cocktail made with muddled red bell peppers, Aperol, cucumber juice, lemon, and simple syrup, garnished with cracked black pepper and cucumber ribbon

  • San Francisco Finalist: Chad Brown

Place of work: B-Side, Sacramento, CA

Winning cocktail: “Bittersweet,” a stirred cocktail with Armagnac, Kronan Swedish Punsch, Aperol, Cocchi Americano, and a dash of Peychaud’s Bitters, served with two bites – a candied orange peel and piece of dark chocolate

Simple Hooked Opens

Simply Hooked, a New York sustainable seafood restaurant serving fresh fish and chips inspired by the culinary traditions of Ireland and the Basque Region of France, opened the first of four locations in New York City.

Founded by MasterChef Finalist Matthias Leuliette, and  restaurateur Jason Linehan, Simply Hooked’s first restaurant is in New York City’s Lower East Side.  

“We continue to create delicious tastes and will not settle for anything less than responsibly sourced, in season, fresh fish. We only work with forward thinking fisheries to ensure an honest product to complement our vision of continued diversity of species, so future generations will not go without the best quality fish at their local Fish and Chip Shop,” said founding chef Mathias Leuliette.

Dune Ives, executive Director of Lonely Whale Foundation, explained, “Our decision to partner with Simply Hooked is grounded in Lonely Whale Foundation’s mission statement of “radical collaboration.” We also believe that working with businesses who are committed to demonstrating sustainable leadership is key in promoting conscious consumerism. We’re excited to be Simply Hooked’s nonprofit partner and to also help share critical ocean health information with their clientele so that we may empower consumers and, hopefully, build a new cohort of ocean advocates.”

Founded in December 2015 by Adrian Grenier and Lucy Sumner, the Lonely Whale Foundation strives to inspire empathy towards marine species and develop life long advocates for ocean health. Through the powerful narrative of the 52Hz Whale, Lonely Whale Foundation initiatives focus on delivering educational curriculum that inspires our youngest learners and our innovative campaigns build community and encourage dialogue on and advocacy for ocean health issues.

Cult Wines Growth

Cult Wines, a specialist in the acquisition and investment management of fine wines, announces that it expects to generate record sales of around £30 million this year1, representing a 47 percent increase on 2015/16.  Cult Wines’ growth, which has been driven by rising demand in the UK and Asia in particular, has been recognised this month with the company receiving the Queen’s Award for Enterprise (International Trade) on Her Majesty’s 91st birthday.

Celebrating its tenth anniversary this year, Cult Wines has become one of the UK’s largest wine investment companies managing private and trade client portfolios on behalf of 2,000 clients across 66 countries. Tom Gearing, managing director of Cult Wines, finished in second place on ‘The Apprentice’ the BBC television show in 2012 after his business plan for a wine investment fund was rejected by Lord Sugar for being too risky.

Cult Wines, which opened an office in Hong Kong last year to take advantage of increasing demand in Asia for investing in fine wine, has seen record sales from Asia. From September 2016 to March this year, the firm has already surpassed the annual Asian sales of last year at £6 million and at the end of this year expects to see a 38% increase in Asian business. In the last four years Cult Wines has seen a compound annual growth rate of 235% in Asia. By 2020 Cult Wines Hong Kong expects to hit sales of £20 million in the region.

While the UK continues to represent Cult Wines’ largest investor base at around 52 percent, Asia now accounts for almost a third (29 percent) of its investors with Europe at 12%. US investors now represent around five percent of all Cult Wines’ client base.

Tom Gearing, Managing Director at Cult Wines, said: “We’re deeply honoured and delighted to be awarded the Queen’s Award for Enterprise International Trade. It is fantastic to be recognised and our performance over the last year has helped to cement our position as one of the leaders in the wine investment market. Our office in Hong Kong has helped the firm to consolidate our services to a growing client base in Asia.

“Fine wine is increasingly recognised as a genuine alternative asset class, providing significant diversification benefits from mainstream financial markets. Not only can the sector provide strong returns under expert guidance but it is an enjoyable, collectible, tangible asset that has a very exciting future. Fine wine investment can act as a defensive holding as it has the capacity to remain stable under difficult economic conditions. It has the advantage of not necessarily following the general trend of lagging behind the rest of the market during economic expansion because demand is consistently strong.” 

Nielsen-Massey Vanillas Awarded  SQF 7.2 – Level 3 Certification

Nielsen-Massey Vanillas has been awarded the SQF 7.2 – Level 3 Certification by the Safe Quality Food Institute (SQFI). SQFI is a globally trusted and recognized food safety and quality program. Level 3 certification recognizes suppliers that have implemented a Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) food quality plan in addition to a food safety plan and food safety fundamentals. It is the most stringent and highest-level certification awarded by SQFI. 

The SQF program is administered by a division of Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and isone of several certification systems recognized by the Global Food Safe Initiative (GFSI),as well as retailers and foodservice providers around the world that require HACCP food safety and quality management systems by their suppliers. The Global Food Safety Initiative (GSFI) brings together food safety experts from throughout the industry to identify the best food safety management practices across the agri-food supply chain. Today, GFSI and its global partners audit and certify more than 100,000 food operations and facilities across 160 countries. Safe Quality Food (SQF) certification allows a company’sfood safety and quality systems to be verified and validated, increasing brand protection, consumer confidence and loyalty. 

Nielsen-Massey’s previous SQF Level 2 included food safety fundamentals and a hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP) approach to managing risks and hazards; this level is recognized by the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI). The company’s new SQF Level 3 certification adds onto the Level 2 food safety requirements with additional quality requirements. To receive a Level 3 certification, Nielsen-Massey developed and implemented a quality management system that includes documented procedures, monitoring and measuring, corrective actions, internal audits and related processes. 

“The awarding of the SQF Level III certification to Nielsen-Massey Vanillas is a demonstration of management commitment and our employees resolve to provide safe, healthy and high quality products for our customers,” said Terry Schindeldecker, SQF Practitioner. 

Sagamore Spirit Wins Double Gold Medal

Sagamore Spirit, a Baltimore-based whiskey company won a double gold medal for its Cask Strength Rye Whiskey from the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, right on the heels of the opening of its new distillery in Port Covington on April 21. The double gold medal is the fourteenth award Sagamore Spirit’s Rye Whiskeys have won since they hit the market in May 2016.

“We are thrilled to be awarded a double gold medal from the San Francisco World Spirits Competition,” said Brian Treacy, President of Sagamore Spirit. “Being recognized so early in our entry as a part of the national whiskey scene is something we’re very proud of as we continue to introduce more people to Sagamore Spirit.”

Sagamore Spirit Cask Strength Rye Whiskey is an American straight rye whiskey with a unique mash bill and proofing process. Sagamore Spirit ages two different rye mash bills – a high rye and a low rye – and then blends them to make their proprietary recipe. Each barrel ages to a slightly different proof, which means every bottle will have a unique proof, close to 111 or 112. A ladle of Sagamore Farm spring-fed water is added for a touch of smoothness. 100 percent of both Sagamore’s 83-proof rye and Cask Strength Rye uses this distinct water.

Sagamore Spirit opened its new distillery in Port Covington on April 21.  The Sagamore Spirit Distillery campus sits on five acres of waterfront property on the banks of the Patapsco River in Baltimore City. The 22,000 square-foot Distillery Building houses the world’s only handmade 40-foot mirrored finished copper column still, made by Vendome Copper in Louisville, Kentucky. The still took twelve people 1,200 hours to make and is “continuous,” maintaining a constant state of distillation. The distillery features a 250-gallon copper pot still, used for research and development, seasonal releases, and new spirit expressions.  The Distillery Building also holds nine 6,500-gallon fermenting tanks, an 8,000-gallon beer well, and a 6,000-gallon mash cooker – all made in the United States.

Shelton Named Executive Chef at Sardella
Ashley Shelton

James Beard award winner Gerard Craft of Niche Food Group appointed Ashley Shelton, executive chef of Pastaria and 2017 James Beard Rising Star semifinalist, as Sardella’s new executive chef. The 27-year-old Eater Young Gun winner will continue to serve as the leader of the Pastaria kitchen as well. In the dual executive chef position, Shelton will split her time between the neighboring restaurants, working alongside Chef Craft to exemplify Sardella’s vision as a fun, seasonal restaurant with a nod to Italy. 

Chef Craft said, “She is an amazing leader and hungry to keep learning. She’s going to kill it.” Shelton echoes her excitement for the new challenge. “The new role at Sardella allows me to examine my culinary skills in a completely new way while leveraging the management style that I’ve developed at Pastaria.”

Her new role at Sardella allows Chef Shelton to not only express her own creativity, but celebrate that of the extended chef team. “I’m excited to push myself in a new way, but Sardella already breeds creativity. The whole team is extremely talented so I want everyone in the kitchen to have a piece of the menu. At Pastaria, the element of fun is always present so I’ll translate that to Sardella. We can be serious about we’re doing without taking ourselves too seriously.” 

Chef Shelton shares Chef Craft’s passion for Italian cuisine, and she has the education to back it up. After attending The Culinary Institute of America, she earned a Masters in Italian Cuisine from the Apicius International Hospitality Institute in Florence, Italy. “Gerard and I sat down to discuss the philosophy of Sardella, and I agree with his vision 100 percent. I actually interviewed with Chef Craft for the Pastaria job while studying in Italy. He was there on a research trip for Pastaria, and it seemed serendipitous to return to St. Louis to work for the group.”

After starting as a line cook, she worked her way up to be executive chef of the casual Italian restaurant and now, neighboring six-month old Sardella.

Maple & Ash Names Pilkey Head Sommelier & Director of Wine Imports

Maple & Ash in Chicago’s Gold Coast neighborhood, announces the appointment of Daniel Pilkey as Head Sommelier & Director of Wine Imports. Pilkey served as Restaurant Director & Sommelier at Sixteen, where he was credited with revamping the beverage program, gaining a second Michelin star, and executing some of Chicago’s most impressive tasting menus. At Maple & Ash, Pilkey reunites with Partner & Executive Chef Danny Grant, who he worked with as Wine Director at RIA when the restaurant received the honor of two Michelin stars in 2010 and 2011.

“At Maple & Ash, I will be looking for opportunities to make the beverage program special,” said Pilkey, who will showcase his craft each evening as Head Sommelier. With the rapidly growing interest in drinking and collecting quality wines, Pilkey is also charged with creating an exclusive Wine Club for Maple & Ash patrons and local Chicagoans. With the best wines from an array of hand-picked vineyards and hard-to-find favorites, the Wine Club will deliver these select wines to members’ homes. In conjunction with these efforts, Pilkey will act as Director of Wine Imports, where his relationships abroad will provide unique access to wines from vineyards around the world. 

Pilkey grew up in the small farming town of Livermore, CA, just east of the San Francisco Bay area, best known for its Wente Vineyards Winery. Pilkey began his career at Wente, the oldest, continually-operating, family-owned vineyard in the United States. In his seven-year tenure, Pilkey learned the ins and outs of the wine business and credits the experience as solidifying what would be a career in wine and food.

Pilkey is currently pursuing his Master Sommelier certification and will complete the final two components this year. He also serves as the Education Director for Second City Sommeliers, Chicago’s most celebrated tasting group with more than 17 members from across Illinois and Wisconsin.

Hohmann Named Executive Chef at Gaby Brasserie Française

Robert Hohmann is the new executive chef at Gaby Brasserie Française, the restaurant and bar at Sofitel New York. He brings to his role more than 20 years of experience in hospitality and catering, and has headed the kitchens of some of Manhattan’s most established hotels.

Robert Hohmann

Hohmann’s broad culinary knowledge spans from classic French to creative American cuisine. His understanding of New York City’s vibrant food culture makes him an ideal choice to helm Gaby Brasserie Française, where the menu will be light and seasonal, with French and American influences. Hohmann is inspired by fresh, high-quality ingredients, with a focus on those that are local, organic and sustainable.

“We’re very pleased to welcome Robert to the Sofitel team, and know that Gaby Brasserie Française will benefit from his exceptional culinary and managerial skills,” said Rudy Tauscher, general manager, Sofitel New York. “We look forward to the continued growth of our food and beverage operations under his leadership and creativity.”

He joins Sofitel New York after four years as executive chef of The Roosevelt New York Hotel. He has also served as the executive chef of The Warwick Hotel New York and executive sous chef of the Sheraton New York Hotel and Towers. Hohmann was also owner and executive chef of Culinary Creations, a catering company he established and operated successfully for seven years.

A graduate of Johnson and Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island, Hohmann has won accolades throughout his career, including leader of the year at The Roosevelt Hotel New York in 2014. He has hosted events for the last four U.S. presidents and a number of New York sports teams.

GOVINO Adds Elements

GOVINO will showcase  new  product offerings at this year’s NRA Show. Expanding on the current collection of wine, beer, flute and decanter drinkware crafted with the brand’s signature ergonomic thumb notch, GOVINO  is introducing contemporary developments such as a dishwasher safe 14 oz. whiskey glass alongside digital advances in specialty printing that will launch this summer and includes customization at any volume and in a multitude of colors and designs.

“Our new system will also have an online presence so that any customer—from business retailers and wholesalers to brides and party planners—can easily upload imagery and personally customize GOVINO glassware to their exact specifications,” says Paulette Estrella GOVINO’s Director of Marketing. “The possibilities are endless—users will have the ability to combine multi-color images, graphics, and text. It’s a useful tool that will enhance and give a little extra personality to any occasion or celebration.”

A recent recipient of the GOOD DESIGN® Award from the Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design, GOVINO is renowned for its durability while maintaining the look and performance comparable to fine crystal stemware. From clients such as The French Laundry, Shake Shack, Regal and Harkins Cinemas to hundreds of wine and spirit brands as well as events and festivals across the country and globally, custom printed GOVINO glassware has become a staple to organizations looking to elevate any beverage experience, especially because of its durable, reusable, and collectible characteristics. 

Cascades PRO Tandem Line Grows

Cascades PRO™ introduced three  new Cascades PRO Tandem™  Interfold Dispensers including a stand/wall unit, a smaller capacity tabletop unit, and a large capacity countertop unit. Designed to reduce waste and costs for the foodservice market and any other establishments that handle the preparation, dispensing or consumption of food. These new dispensers are the latest additions to the Cascades PRO Tandem™ family of products.

With Cascades PRO Tandem™ Interfold Dispensers, customers now have the option to choose a dispenser on a stand, in addition to the redesigned tabletop, countertop, and wall units that were previously available. All of the interfold dispensers feature one napkin at a time dispensing, resulting in a 25% reduction in waste compared to traditional napkin dispensers.

“Cascades PRO™ prides itself on providing quality products for every need,” said André Daviault, Cascades PRO Marketing Director. “With the new Cascades PRO Tandem™ Interfold Dispensers, we serve our customers with a wider range of reliable waste reducing dispenser options for quick service restaurants, cafeterias, convenience stores, movie theaters and break rooms, amongst others.” 

Featuring capacities ranging from 200 to 750 napkins, this new line of dispensers caters to a broad range of individual business needs, while the OnDisplay™ customizable window inserts on each unit provide additional advertising opportunities for businesses.