A dessert lover’s dream: dessert and cognac flights in Buckhead

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The XO Bar at the InterContinental Buckhead Atlanta is known for its cognac flights, but did you know that the hotel’s restaurant, Au Pied de Cochon, has a delectable dessert flight? Read this restaurant review by food and wine writer Cecilia Dominic that shows that Au Pied de Cochon offers more than just fantastic French food – the menu is also a dessert lovers dream! Read her blog here.

And for those who’d rather have a “liquid” dessert, the XO Bar is a perfect spot for an after-dinner drink. Located adjacent to Au Pied de Cochon, the incredible XO Bar features the largest selection of vintage and unique cognacs with an exceptional selection of brandy cocktails, signature drinks and appetizers. The XO Bar is the only bar in North America with over 100 cognacs. The XO Bar also features a wonderful outdoor terrace with a great selection of cigars to enjoy with one of their signature brandys or cognacs. More details on their cognac flights to come – stay tuned!

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Crenn vs. Symon: Who will reign supreme on Iron Chef America?

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InterContinental San Francisco Chef Dominique Crenn was a competitor in Next Iron Chef – Season 2. She travels to Kitchen Stadium to take on the ultimate challenger in Iron Chef, Michael Symon, winner of the first season of Next Iron Chef. Will Chef Crenn be able to prove that she has what it takes or will she fall to Iron Chef Symon?

Tune in on August 8th at 10PM Eastern on Food Network to see whose cuisine reigns supreme! Good luck Chef Crenn!

Chef Crenn is the executive chef of Luce, a wine restaurant that opened in February 2008 at the InterContinental San Francisco. Luce showcases the legendary wines of Frescobaldi with a sophisticated New American menu reflecting the surrounding farms of San Francisco and changes according to freshness and seasonality. In addition to ordering off a traditional menu, Luce offers unique tasting menus including a 4-course “Farm to Table” menu highlighting local produce and the 6-course “From Ocean to Land” menu allowing guests to explore the full range of cuisine at Luce.

Located adjacent to Luce, Bar 888, the only grappa bar in North America, offers one of the finest selections of grappa and grappa cocktails in the country. Offering over 120 hand-selected grappas to taste, Bar 888 also offers an innovative selection of grappa-based cocktails, along with a carefully cultivated selection of wines, beers, and premium spirits. Linger at this sleek, modern bar decorated with a private collection of vintage grappa bottles, or gather at one of the cozy tables that surround the bar.

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An Inside Look at TableOne: Houston’s Premier Chef’s Table

Executive Chef Peter Laufer featured on the cover of the July-August issue of PRIME LIVING Magazine

By: Maria Canlas, Assistant to the Food and Beverage Director and Assistant to the Executive Chef, InterContinental Houston Near the Galleria

Since its inception in October 2009, TableOne has become the city’s ultimate chef’s table. Located within the bustling kitchen of the InterContinental Houston Near the Galleria, guests witness the intensity of the kitchen first-hand as Executive Chef Peter Laufer prepares four to twelve course meals using numerous local ingredients and herbs from his own garden, which is located on the front lawn of the hotel. Once inside the kitchen, guests are seated at a beautiful table surrounded by flowing sheer draperies and neatly placed beneath a unique chandelier crafted from antique spoons. TableOne offers a commanding view of the action for up to ten guests who dine on a personally crafted menu by the Chef fitting the specific food requests and desires of the guests, complete with creative wine pairings.

In a recent article featured in the July issue of PRIME LIVING, Texas writer Robin Barr Sussman wrote “Expect an exciting menu based on these global forces –creative dishes not found in most American restaurants. “

Nothing describes this interactive culinary adventure better than Houston Magazine’s July 2010 Restaurant Issue when it stated “On a busy night, the engaging German Laufer might well put you to work peeling, slicing, or stirring something- and cheekily suggest how lucky you are to enjoy such an interactive culinary adventure.”

Born and raised in Munich, Germany, Chef Laufer’s global cuisine is influenced by his real-life experiences traveling the world. Chef Peter built his repertoire globally cooking in fine hotels and restaurants in South America, the Caribbean, and Europe.

TableOne evenings start at $65 per person for four courses and work their way up to the ultimate twelve course dinner for $1,000 per person, a food lovers dream evening.

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Getting creative with the World Class Beverage Program’s Coca-Cola® Float promotion

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The World Class Beverage Program Coca-Cola® Float promotion is in full swing at The InterContinental Harbor Court Baltimore. During a recent IAHI Owners Meeting, it was great to see the food and beverage team’s creativity and spirited enthusiasm with the WCPB’s latest Coca-Cola® Float promotion. The slideshow has some photos from the IAHI event which was a great success! Fosters Winemakers was one of the main sponsors that made this event such a huge success. As part of the WCBP, Fosters continues to be one of the hotel’s main supporters in the Baltimore area.

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Celebrate the classic Coca-Cola® ice cream float

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Nothing is more American than a classic, old-fashioned Coca-Cola® ice cream float and fountain soda. Just in time for the 4th of July, the InterContinental Hotels Group® World Class Beverage Program celebrated America’s birthday by bringing nostalgic fun and flair to the American ice cream float featuring new delicious recipes for all to enjoy. If you’re looking for a way to beat the heat this summer, try one of these new eleven drink recipes (6 non-alcoholic and 5 alcoholic) perfect for everyone in the family. Across the country, all of our hotels received the components of the World Class Beverage Program Coca-Cola® Float promotion including iJuke Boxes, Coca-Cola® rafts, Ice Cream scoops, case of Coca-Cola® glasses, case of plastic Coca-Cola® glasses, red and white paper straws, contest entry box, Coca-Cola® straw dispensers, menus, table tents and promotional posters.

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Sustainable Evolution Inspires Natural Power Breakfast

Organic, freshly-squeezed fruit and vegetable juices and yogurt smoothies

We all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and now the InterContinental New York Barclay has come up with an affordable and healthy option for all those New Yorkers on the go. Whether you’re visiting the Big Apple or live in the area, for an unsurpassed New York breakfast comprised of local, sustainable and organic food, Executive Chef Carmine Marletta has created the Natural Power Breakfast buffet. Sure to provide the energy and clarity necessary for a day on the town or in the boardroom, the $33 buffet is offered Monday through Friday 7:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., and 7:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. Reservations are appreciated; call 212-906-1400 or 212-906-3144. The offer is part of The Barclay’s Sustainability in the City, a sustainable hospitality initiative for the classic New York hotel implemented by General Manager Hervé Houdré and his team.

The InterContinental New York Barclay’s Natural Power Breakfast features such items as organic, freshly-squeezed fruit and vegetable juices and yogurt smoothies, Holly’s Organic Oatmeal with Organic Vine-sweetened dried fruits from Southern California, wild honey, organic Berkshire Mountain Granola from Massachusetts, smoked wild Alaskan King salmon, hormone-free meats such as Iowa farm naturally- raised smoked ham, bacon and turkey, Esbenshade Farms, Lancaster Pennsylvania sausage, Prosciutto and salami; organic New York State Old Sheppard Farms organic cheeses including cave-aged cheddar, Camembert and Blue cheese, House made Quiche made with organic flour, eggs milk and all cheeses and meats hormone and antibiotic free, New York State Foie Gras Terrine, grilled tomatoes, organic brioche and apple bread pudding.

Chef Carmine tapped into his own passion for healthy lifestyle, having lost 104 lbs through cleaner, better eating and exercise. “We found the quality of organic and local products far superior and knew we could create a “wow” factor for our guests, instilling a memorable breakfast experience, while energizing them for a day on the town,” said Chef Carmine.

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How to survive a G20 Summit – The F&B point of view

From left to right: Shaun Ritchie, William Bowman (both Servers), Margaret Tays (Restaurant Manager), Tobias Gessner (F&B Director), Josh Lavoie, Cadence Allen, Trevor King (all Servers)

At the end of June the G20 Summit was held at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. The InterContinental Toronto Centre is directly connected to the Convention Centre and was the prime location for several head of states and their delegations. If you should ever be in a similar situation, here is a quick guide on what or what not to expect: Start your planning and organization early; but, I can ensure you: it will change (more than once). The information you will receive is most often last minute, due to security reasons.

Several weeks before the summit we were contacted by Health Canada about their process requirements. They scheduled an in-depth inspection as well as Food Handler Refresher classes for all culinary colleagues. During the summit our culinary staff was under the watchful eyes of Canadian and Toronto Public Health agents, who were present in the kitchen 24 hours / day. Samples of each meal that was served to a leader (or their direct family) were bagged and stored for 14 days for inspection – just in case.

The entire hotel was swept by security and sniffer dogs were brought to every area of the hotel including the guestrooms, banquet space, kitchen and Azure Restaurant.
After the sweep (4 days before the actual summit) deliveries to the hotel were limited to emergencies only. Since we had only limited freezing storage, we contacted one of the food suppliers for a complimentary freezer truck.

One foreign leader checked in to the hotel with an entourage that included a number of chefs. Be prepared to host delegations that choose to bring in their own food for the leader and to provide some cooler and storage space.

Other delegations brought “food watchers” who needed to be present in the kitchen every time their leader’s meal was prepared. My tip: build a good relation with the food watchers and it will be a lot easier – don’t be afraid to give out your cell phone number. In fact, make sure your cell phone is charged, you will use it a lot! Delegations will use your existing menus as a guideline, but they will order whatever they feel like.
The leaders we had in house were very health conscious and liked our offerings of local, Canadian products. Be ready to make a dish more than once; time schedules change as do dining venues. The President may nosh in the limo en route to the airport. Don’t fret about the plate, napkin and set of silverware you will never see again.

Believe it or not, but one world leader arrived without a private chef or a food watcher; she came directly to our Azure Restaurant and helped herself from the breakfast buffet.

The culinary and banquet teams were also tasked with feeding RCMP officers who were stationed throughout the hotel and surrounding areas, 24 hours a day; a group of some 400 fairly healthy eaters each day for the whole week. Once you get a good picture of what business level to expect in banquets and the outlets, a quick count of your china, glass, silver and other equipment might be a good idea. We rented some items to be on the safe side.

One of the highlights was a dinner for the G8 spouses Friday night, hosted by Canadian First Lady Laureen Harper.

To prepare the menu, our Executive Chef and myself consulted with Mr. & Mrs. Harper’s personal chef, Oliver Bartsch, and we were advised against anything that would be difficult to eat or could end up on the dress of the First Lady of… So, soup was not an option. A few weeks before the dinner, Chef Bartsch and organizers from the Summit Office came for an official tasting and approved the menu with very few minor changes. Wine pairings from our Sommelier had to be submitted and approved. For this dinner we arranged for special deliveries to be brought to the hotel; the drivers had to be accredited in advance and the trucks were screened and escorted by police to the hotel.

The dinner began with a terrine with carrots, pickled baby leeks & mushrooms, cucumber gelee, yoghurt sauce and mache salad. This course was paired with 13th Street Winery, 2008 Riesling Funk Vineyard Old Vines Niagara Peninsula, Ontario.

The second course was a pan seared yellow perch, lovage scented fish eggs lié, peppery white asparagus ribbons, oven dried vine tomatoes and chili oil. The Peninsula Ridge, Viognier Reserve 2007 from
Niagara Peninsula, Ontario paired this course.

For the main course we served roasted veal tenderloin, golden beets, parsley puree, port wine reduction, potato croquette and paired it with the Burrowing Owl Merlot, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia.

The spouses finished their dinner with a white chocolate mousse with cranberry glaze on a shortbread crisp with citrus reduction and a maple Leaf tuille, perfectly paired with La Face Cachée de la Pomme, Neige Reserve, Montérégie, Québec.

Surprisingly for this meal, there were no special dietary requirements and all spouses enjoyed their evening.

The service staff for the dinner went though several training sessions, had a special manicure at our Spa and had to perform a final presentation for the Summit Management Office; everything had to be perfect… and we succeeded.

During the two day summit we changed the hours of operations for our Azure Restaurant to 24 hours operations. The hotel was booked with five delegations from different time zones and the adjustment was very much appreciated by each delegation. The change also ensures that you will have colleagues at the hotel at all times, in case the following shift can not come in due to protesters etc. Even though there were protesters and violence a few blocks away, we had minimal impact on colleagues not showing up or being late. The security fences kept us safe.

Several bilateral meeting were held in the banquet space of the hotel. Over the weekend we had around 13 head of states walking in and out of the building (well, most of them used a motorcade). Depending on the schedule of the meetings, be ready for quick turn-overs; each meeting set up has to look impeccable and it can not show that there was a meeting in the same room just 5 minutes before. Again, here is when good and close contact with the liaison from each delegation important and helpful.

Security officers were on each floor and many guest rooms were turned into delegation offices. Count your banquet tables ahead of time and schedule enough banquet housemen to set them up. This will begin as early as one week before the arrivals. Also, remember that it takes time to put everything back in order.

Three final pieces of advice:
First: You never know what will happen; you may even meet “The Beast”

Second: Wash your hands; you never know who may shake it!

Third: You will work more hours than the day is long, but trust me, it’s worth the time and effort. It’s an interesting, exciting, exhausting, once-in-a-life-time …and fun experience.

By: Tobias Gessner, Director of F&B @ InterContinental Toronto Centre

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