MRM News Bites: Saginaw’s ProStart Winners, TripAdisor Teams with Grubhub and Las Brisas’ Seaside Cantina

This edition of MRM New Bites includes ProStart winners, Las Brisas’ new Seaside Cantina, the teaming of Trip Advisor and Grubhub, agricultural cake, Moody Tongue in China and the world’s most expensive taco.  Send news items of interest to Modern Restaurant Management magazine’s Executive Editor Barbara Castiglia at

Students From Saginaw Career Complex Win National ProStart Competition

Saginaw Career Complex has taken first place at the National ProStart Invitational in Charleston, S.C. The team, consisting of Isabella Dean, Shanttel Gonsalves, KaTonya Jenkins and Noemi Perez, won more than $10,000 in scholarships from the National Restaurant Association (NRA) and Coca-Cola®.  In addition, the winners have more than $100,000 in college and university-specific scholarships available to them, should they choose to attend any of the sponsoring schools.  

The team from Saginaw previously won the Restaurant Management category at the 16th Annual Michigan ProStart Competition this past March where they competed against hundreds of students from more than 60 high schools and technical centers. Their winning plan, called “Bowl of Hope,” is a casual dining, non-profit restaurant concept that pays it forward to charities.

“This is a tremendous victory for these young ladies and for their program director, Julie Ivan,” said Justin Winslow, President and CEO of the MRA.  “I’m inspired by their achievement, and I’m proud to say the best-of-the-best comes from the great state of Michigan.”

The National ProStart Invitational is the country’s premier competition for high school students who are studying culinary arts and restaurant management. Each year, the top 400 ProStart students put their knowledge and skills to the test in front of industry leaders, National Restaurant Association Education Foundation (NRAEF) Trustees, state restaurant association executives, and top post-secondary schools.

“Persistence pays off for our Saginaw Career Complex team,” said Ken Wasco, Michigan Restaurant Association ESF Chairman. “The Educational Support Foundation of Michigan is proud of the incredible effort displayed by the faculty and students in winning this award.”

ProStart is a nationwide, two-year high school program that unites the classroom and industry to develop the best and brightest talent into tomorrow’s restaurant and foodservice leaders. In Michigan, 68 high schools and career centers use the ProStart curriculum with 5,000 students participating.

TripAdvisor and Grubhub Partner 

TripAdvisor® and Grubhub announced an agreement integrating Grubhub’s restaurant network into the TripAdvisor desktop website, mobile web and mobile app experiences. Consumers browsing TripAdvisor restaurant listings in the U.S. will now have the option to order food from tens of thousands of Grubhub’s restaurant partners in 1,100 cities. 

“With more than 4.2 million restaurant listings currently on TripAdvisor, we have evolved into a global leader in helping travelers and locals find or reserve a table at the perfect restaurant,” said Bertrand Jelensperger, Senior Vice President, TripAdvisor Restaurants. “Through our new agreement with Grubhub, we’re demonstrating another example of how TripAdvisor has become the site for anyone looking to find their perfect meal, now providing consumers with access to food delivery from tens of thousands of restaurants.” 

“We’re always looking for ways to make it easier for our diners to find and order the type of food they want — whether they’re at home or traveling — from the broadest, best set of local restaurants,” said Sudev Balakrishnan, Senior Vice President of Product for Grubhub. “We’re excited to connect Grubhub diners with TripAdvisor’s massive, active mobile and desktop audience so that these people can enjoy the convenience of delivery wherever they may be.” 

Terms and length of the agreement will not be disclosed.

ACF Will Launch New Certifications

The American Culinary Federation (ACF) will soon launch two new entry-level certifications, Certified Fundamentals Cook (CFC®) and Certified Fundamentals Pastry Cook (CFPC®). Recently recognized as official certifications by the U.S. Department of Labor, CFC® and CFPC® provide entry-level career credentials for individuals entering the culinary field with no prior experience in a commercial foodservice operation.

“ACF is pleased to provide a new opportunity for individuals to develop fundamental skills, gain experience and prepare themselves for entry into the culinary industry,” said ACF National President Thomas Macrina, CEC, CCA, AAC. “Creating career pathways with certified credentials can lead to individuals’ success while also expanding the qualified workforce for the benefit of our entire industry.”

With continued growth in the hospitality industry, properly trained staff is in demand for restaurants and foodservice operations across the country. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 66,000 jobs were added to the accommodation and foodservice sector in February 2017 alone. The new additions to ACF’s certification portfolio offer accessible and stackable career pathways for individuals interested in building successful futures in the culinary arena.

“ACF is committed to supporting chefs in every step of their career journeys,” said Cindy Komarinski, PH.D, CCC, CCE, HAAC of the ACF Education Foundation (ACFEF) Accreditation Commission. “These new certifications help us do that from the first day a new cook steps into the kitchen. Moreover, they will enable a broader group of job seekers from all walks of life to take the first step toward promising and rewarding careers in the foodservice industry.”

Candidates for the CFC® and CFPC® programs are required to complete 30-hour courses in nutrition as well as food safety and sanitation, and must have earned a high school diploma or GED, 75 Continuing Education Hours or graduated from an ACFEF Secondary Program. Individuals who pass the program’s written and practical exams will have acquired the basic, fundamental skill set necessary to immediately work in and contribute to the foodservice industry. Certified individuals can continue their upward mobility by honing their skills and knowledge as they pursue additional savory or baking and pastry certifications.

ACFEF will partner with workforce programs, career and technical education programs, as well as other educational institutions to implement CFC® and CFPC® training programs nationwide.

“Up to 80 percent of restaurant owners report starting their foodservice careers in entry-level positions, demonstrating the great potential the industry offers employees once they get their foot in the door,” continued Komarinski. “ACF’s industry stackable credentials help individuals design a plan to achieve their culinary goals and dreams.”

The new CFC® and CFPC® certifications join ACF’s existing, progressive credentials that enable foodservice professionals to certify their skill, knowledge and professionalism at each stage of their careers. ACF is committed to supporting the advancement of cooks, chefs and the industry at large through continuing education opportunities that include certification, apprenticeships and program accreditation.

FPI Launches Educational Effort

Millions of people use foodservice packaging every day to enjoy meals, snacks and drinks, and this includes young people. To address school-age children, the Foodservice Packaging Institute launched an educational program geared toward students in grades four through six. The program, developed along with the curriculum experts at Young Minds Inspired, includes activities that explore single-use foodservice packaging usage, encourage recycling and teach about sustainability.

“Teachers can now add depth to their lessons by taking a closer look at single-use foodservice packaging — what it is, why it’s used, and how it can be a smart choice for sanitation, safety and environmental reasons,” said Lynn Dyer, president of the Foodservice Packaging Institute.

The free downloadable program includes a one-page teacher’s instruction guide, which provides suggestions, background information, and a link to national education curriculum standards. For students, two activity sheets promote deeper-level thinking and discussion, and enhance science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and English language arts (ELA) classroom curriculums. The interactive activities include scenarios that help students understand how and why foodservice packaging was invented; how foodservice packaging compares to reusable products in different circumstances; and factors related to sanitation, safety, cost, convenience and the environment.

“The foodservice packaging industry is committed to reducing the impact of its products on the environment,” said Dyer. “Our goal with creating this educational program is for students to experience dynamic learning about foodservice packaging. Taking care of the environment is everyone’s responsibility.”

FPI’s foodservice packaging educational program was distributed last week to thousands of teachers across the nation. Teachers can obtain a free copy,  click here.  

Las Brisas Unveils Seaside Cantina

 Las Brisas is unveiling its new Seaside Cantina; recently remodeled with improvements and enhancements designed to offer guests a vacation and resort-like feel.

Among the many new features, Las Brisas has increased the cantina and lounge space to enhance the overall experience by offering more seats and views of the ocean. A refrigerated wine room with custom racks that can hold 800 bottles of wine is at the end of a brand new 65-foot bar, featuring a custom-made bar top made from Koa wood. The front of the bar includes a mother-of-pearl inlay. A tequila display was also installed to the back wall of the bar.

Stained eucalyptus branches were added to the recessed lighted panels and exposed stained wood beams now adorn the ceiling.

The front entrance has been completely redone featuring an LED back-lit marble and glass enclosure that features an authentic five-foot-wide sea fan, along with brand new tile flooring. The cantina’s seating capacity is 65, and can accommodate more guests for parties. Along wioth the cantina and lobby renovations, the bathrooms have also been completely enhanced and remodeled.

New drinks have been added to the menu, specifically highlighted by the “Top of the World” margarita. The gold standard of margaritas, this margarita contains patrón platinum, grand marnier cuvée du centenaire, scratch-made sweet & sour, blood orange sour, and red alaea salt rim, and is served in glassware hand crafted by a local Laguna beach artist. Other cocktails include the “Laguna Pearl,” a special and rare find of roca patrón silver, Hennessy, patrón citrónge, scratch-made sweet & sour, simple syrup, black salt rim, and the hand-crafted “Mojito Tropical,” made with Bacardi pineapple-fusion rum, pineapple juice, lime juice, sugar water, fresh mint, shaved coconut, and a splash of Sprite.

Overlooking the Pacific Ocean, originally, the Victor Hugo Inn, the property was christened Las Brisas, in 1979, to become a first-class sea-to-table culinary destination. 

Agricultural Cake Debuts

On Friday, April 28, Gruppo Italiano and Il Gattopardo Group presented a special Italian pastry baking demonstration by Pasticcere (Pastry Chef) and Master Chocolatier Pietro Macellaro. The event took place at the International Culinary Center (ICC), where Macellaro demonstrated how he creates his special summer dessert, the “Lemon and White Sesame Agricultural Cake.”

Vito Gnazzo, Gianfranco Sorrentino, Pietro Macellaro, Paula Bolla-Sorrentino Photo Credit: LMG

“The year of the cake and travel cakes – that’s the birth of the ‘Agricultural Cake’ – created with fantastic ingredients from the farm, complete with beautiful, detailed decoration, but also very easy and convenient to carry,” Macellaro said.

Everything used in creating this dessert is produced on Chef Macellaro’s own farm in southern Italy – it’s also all certified organic, such as the Carosella ancient grain flour that grow in his organic fields.  His ingredients are long sought after, despite their simplicity, and he demands that they be absolutely intact; everything must be natural, and perfectly match every need. 

The “Lemon and White Sesame “Agricultural Cake” will also soon be found on the spring/summer menus at Il Gattopardo and The Leopard at des Artistes, two acclaimed authentic southern Italian fine dining restaurants owned by Gianfranco Sorrentino, his wife Paula Bolla Sorrentino, andExecutive Chef Vito Gnazzo, with whom Chef Macellaro has already collaborated with to create their dessert menus.

Photo Credit: LMG

Together, they have created an “Almond frangipane tart of seasonal fresh fruits on vanilla custard” which is served at The Leopard at des Artistes, and a “Mousse di cioccolato with “Aglianico” wine heart” and “Bavarese of eggplant and pistacchio di Bronte covered in chocolate”, which are both on the menu at Il Gattopardo.

During this month’s visit to New York, Chef Macellaro will work closely with Chef Vito to create theforthcoming Spring/Summer dessert menus at both fine dining locations. Expect to see impeccably-designed and meticulously-crafted “dolci” in a variety of forms!  They will also continue planning on opening an authentic “Pasticceria di Dolci Agricoli” in New York City.

Chef Macellaro and Chef Vito grew up only twelve or so miles apart in the province of Salerno. Vito grew up in the picturesque, rural town of Felitto, an area of small valleys and waterfalls, where the culinary traditions of centuries handed down from one generation to the next. Although they didn’t previously know each other, Vito had just read one of many reviews on Macellaro’s acclaimed work, and knew he wanted to meet him.  When Vito visited Italy not too long ago, he arranged an introduction, and the two of them became close friends.

“We respect each other, because we have the same approach to food – the same respect and pride in what we do.”, says the chef, referring to their traditional Italian approach to creating cuisine. 

Moody Tongue Goes to China

Moody Tongue Brewery, the Chicago-based culinary brewery, officially begins its international expansion to China. With the Chinese community now taking a greater interest in American craft beers, Brewmaster Jared Rouben found this opportunity to introduce his method of culinary brewing: using a chef’s mindset to highlight flavors of aromatics in beers, to the Chinese market.

To celebrate the launch of expanding in China, Moody Tongue partnered with Hangzhou-based craft brewery Midtown Brewery, to make Moody Tongue’s first collaboration beer. Earlier this month, Rouben and Midtown Brewmaster Eric White joined to create two  unique collaboration beers that incorporate Moody Tongue’s culinary brewing style and ingredients indigenous to Hangzhou.

Jared Rouben and Eric White brewed a lager with Longjing Tea and a Saison with Sweet Osmanthus, highlighting Moody Tongue’s focus on sourcing the highest quality of local ingredients and incorporating them into beers which showcase their delicate flavors and aromas, while also paying homage to traditional Hangzhou culture.

Prior to beginning the collaboration beers with Midtown, Rouben spent two weeks meeting with a number of renowned chefs and local brewers in and around Shanghai to discuss the difference between craft beers and culinary beers, and ultimately sharing with them his idea that you can view and brew beer as food. Last month, Moody Tongue began distribution of its full line up of culinary beers throughout the country of China, including: Smoked Applewood Gold, Sliced Nectarine IPA, Caramelized Chocolate Churro Batlic Porter, Steeped Emperor’s Lemon Saison, as well as the highly coveted Bourbon Barrel-Aged Chocolate Barleywine and Shaved Black Truffle Pilsner. Moody Tongue beers are being distributed in China by Craft Republic. 

Claude’s Debuts in Southampton

What will the Southampton Inn restaurant be for 2017? With a new name and concept, Claude’s features a wholesome and modestly priced menu with all of the guest selected favorite foods from the past five years. This new restaurant will continue to serve their fantastic breakfast and lunch, focusing on locally sourced ingredients. Claude’s uses herbs & vegetables grown in their own garden, when in season.

Southampton Inn
photo by Rob Rich/ © 2015 516-676-3939

Launching in 2017, Claude’s concept was created to fill a void within Southampton Village. Guests will enjoy locally sourced options, with plenty of selections for vegetarian, Alpha Gal, and gluten free diners – all within a family friendly environment with superb service and modest prices. The restaurant’s club-casual décor creates a relaxing, non-pretentious atmosphere where guests can enjoy a true Hamptons dining experience with style and ease.  Claude’s will specialize in modern salads, classic sandwiches, inventive small plates, and will also offer gourmet burgers. Classic, comfortable and complemented by excellent service. Draft beer and local wines will be served, as well as specialty tropical drinks poolside during the summer season.

Gordon Ramsay Hell’s Kitchen in Vegas

Gordon Ramsay plans a first-of its-kind Gordon Ramsay Hell’s Kitchen located at Caesars Palace Las Vegas, set to open this winter. This marks Ramsay’s fifth Las Vegas restaurant and extends his partnership with Caesars Entertainment. 

Designed by Jeffrey Beers International to be an experiential and immersive destination restaurant, guests will feel transported to the studio set.  With design features that are engaging to all senses and are a nod to both the red and blue teams featured on the show, the dynamic and bustling kitchen will be the centerpiece of this unique eatery to be enjoyed and appreciated from every seat in the house.

“Fans of the show have been asking us to bring a Hell’s Kitchen restaurant to life since day one, so I’m thrilled to finally be doing it here at Caesars Palace,” said Ramsay. “A key element of the show’s success has always been the diners’ experience, so we are excited for guests in Las Vegas to feel like they too are part of the show – flames and all.”

The restaurant will seat nearly 300 guests, feature indoor and Strip-adjacent patio dining and will offer a daily themed brunch, dinner and spirited bar menu.

“Like so many others worldwide, I too have long been a fan of Hell’s Kitchen and we are thrilled to be bringing a first-of-its-kind restaurant like this to Caesars Palace guests and visitors to Las Vegas,” said Gary Selesner, Caesars Palace regional president. “We are so proud to welcome a second Gordon Ramsay restaurant into Caesars Palace, a partnership that continues to be the perfect recipe throughout many of our resorts.”

The high-energy restaurant and bar will take its cue directly from the eponymous ITV Entertainment and FOX primetime television hit seen worldwide by millions of viewers, and will shine the spotlight on many cast/chef recipes and dishes featured on the show, including many of Chef Ramsay’s signature dishes.

“Gordon is a true visionary and all of us at ITV America are thrilled to be working with him on this passion project which brings the HELL’S KITCHEN experience to so many fans. We see this as a unique extension of a powerful brand that, 17 seasons in, continues to resonate with millions worldwide. It’s an honor to be in partnership with both Gordon and Caesars in what will be a must-visit destination,” said Ed Simpson, EVP Business Development & International, ITV America.

Construction will begin this summer with an expected opening date this winter. 

Chef Nobu Matsuhisa Receives Lifetime Achievement Award

Chef Nobu Matsuhisa has been awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award received at the 2017 British GQ Food & Drink Awards. This inspiring accolade comes 23-years since opening the first Nobu restaurant in a New York.

The inspiration for the first Nobu restaurant remains at the core of the group today; the focus on exceptional quality, great service, charismatic design, and a heartfelt and passionate desire to deliver memorable experiences to our guests. The original goal was to create a great place in New York to enjoy great food with friends, and not what the group has evolved into today; a game changer in the hospitality and restaurant industry.

Chef Nobu, Robert DeNiro and Meir Teper have remained the closest of friends and partners since Nobu was crafted. In 2015, the shareholders welcomed James Packer as partner and collaborative visionary for the next decades.

Nobu has now grown into a global hospitality and restaurant empire across five continents with 32 restaurants and 12 hotels. The hotel collection includes Nobu Hotel Caesars Palace, Nobu Hotel City of Dreams and this year has seen the opening the Nobu Hotel Miami Beach and Nobu Ryokan Malibu. More hotels will open this year and next in Ibiza, London, Marbella, Riyadh followed by Chicago, Los Cabos, Toronto, and Bahrain.

World’s Most Expensive Taco

The World’s Most Expensive Taco and a shot of Tequila Ley .925 generated $27,960 for the Los Cabos Children’s Foundation last Friday at Grand Velas Los Cabos’ Sip & Savor event. The benefit, which included a raffle for the taco and tequila duo, signature tacos from the resort’s executive chefs for guests along with tequila, the appearance of La Ley’s $3.5 million Ley Diamante bottle, and a surprise live auction, was for the not for profit focused on the health of children in Los Cabos and the Southern Baja Peninsula. The money will be used for the not for profit’s programs of oncology, cardiology and pediatric intensive care.

Security was tight at the event, with two security guards accompanying the bottle to the hotel ballroom and then striding alongside the display with the Ley Diamante bottle. Insurance was taken out on the bottle. Chef Juan Licerio and his team paraded the costly taco to the stage where it was divided in half so that it could be enjoyed by the winner and his wife.

The lucky winner, American Mike Patterson, ceded it to his two guests, one of them wished to remain anonymous. The other was Los Cabos Properties’ real estate brokerage owner Reyna Houston who proclaimed the taco and tequila “totally delicious.”

Retailing at $25K at the resort’s Frida restaurant, the pricey taco is a gold flake–infused soft corn tortilla filled with Kobe beef, lobster, black truffle brie cheese, Almas Beluga caviar and a salsa made from dried Morita peppers, Ley .925 Añejo tequila, and kopi luwak. Luwak is a coffee made from partially digested cherries that are gathered from the excrement of the civet, a wild cat found throughout Asia.

The handmade tequila bottle, “Ley Diamante,” has 3.725 kilos of .925 pure platinum and 4100 diamonds for an incredible total of 328.59 carats. From design to completion, it took ten months to make and weighs close to 18 pounds. The tequila itself is extra aged, a unique blend of 3, 6 and 9 year old, white oak Barrels, 100% agave, 42% alcohol (84 proof), from the company’s own Los Altos de Jalisco Plantations, where the best tequilas in the world are made.

Lutze Biergarten Opens

Mack-Cali Realty Corporation celebrated the grand opening of the Lutze Biergarten, Jersey City’s first outdoor biergarten along the Hudson River Waterfront.  The new biergarten is adjacent to Harborside, the Company’s premier, mixed-use asset in Jersey City. 

“We are thrilled to open the doors of the Lutze to Jersey City as the Hudson Waterfront continues to develop itself into a vibrant destination for the entire community to enjoy,” said Mack-Cali Chief Executive Officer Michael J. DeMarco. “Just in time for the spring and summer season, the Lutze will provide guests with a one-of-a-kind experience featuring spectacular views of New York City’s iconic skyline.”

“Thanks to their commitment and faith in our community, the Lutze expects to provide nearly 100 job opportunities to the local community and will be donating a substantial portion of their profits to local charities and political causes that benefit thousands of residents across our city,” said Mayor Steven M. Fulop.

The Lutze, a 23,000-square-foot outdoor biergarten featuring three unique seating areas, offers guests a variety of craft beers, cider, wine, and sangria, as well as delicious food from Jake’s Downtown and Bacon Me Crazy. Throughout the biergarten, customers have access to a variety of seating and lounge areas with several fire pits, games, and an event stage, situated in the heart of the biergarten, will welcome local live entertainment. The family- and pet-friendly Lutze is open daily, from May through October.

Owned by Mack-Cali, the Lutze is part of the Company’s initiative to activate the Jersey City Waterfront and further create a destination where residents, tenants, and visitors can have a true live-work-play experience. Mack-Cali is currently engaged in a transformation and re-imagination of its Harborside property, inspired by the complex’s industrial past. The transformed Harborside will feature high-end dining and shopping experiences in an open layout, with easy access to the Waterfront Esplanade and magnificent views of the Hudson River and Manhattan skyline.