Celebrity chefs and the hotel
Partnering with a name chef can bring instant recognition and panache to a hote — at least that is always the hope and intention. Initially, every deal starts with the goal that bringing a chef and a hotel together will gain calculated returns for all. Like any deal, though, a foundation of understanding must be in place before the first menu is written or first plate is served.
I have been involved in many projects and the one thing that remains a constant is that each deal is different, each property unique, and each chef an individual with specific needs. Broadly speaking, the chef is looking to expand his or her brand, provide opportunities for growth for young talent, and build a cushion of stability in their company.
Hotel operators want a credible partnership that adds to the hotel experience, increased traffic and visibility, and an advantageous return resulting from the partnership. Guiding these issues before the doors open is critical to the success of the venture.
Globally, Marriott International enjoys over 50 bonafide chef celebrity partners, consultants, or alliances scattered strategically across the portfolio. We partner with these chefs because of their ability to run great restaurants and create exciting experiences. Selecting the right chef for each property is crucial, and it is more than just the food. Just because someone has a successful restaurant or TV show, published a book or won a contest does not make them necessarily able to operate in a hotel environment.
Many are successful because of their presence and without them behind the line the experience is not the same. Can this chef or group instill that same focus? Are they deep enough in their organization to support another site? Are they a true partner or are they looking for an easy expansion? Can they cook and make money? We spend a great deal of time insuring they are the right fit for the property. Answering these questions upfront will help determine if we have the right fit or not.
I was recently at our LA Live complex, anchored by the newly opened JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels. Separated by 24 floors and two brand, the two could not be more different.
WP24 is the 24th floor of the Ritz-Carlton at LA Live and has city?s best view. This is the latest Wolfgang Puck?s empire and quite a restaurant. Taking a very L.A. spin on all things Asian, the Puck group has really hit a home run. Great scene and excellent food.
The JW Marriott at LA Live and the city?s most impressive lobby is anchored by LA Market by Kerry Simon. Dubbed the Rock and Roll chef, Simon has brought his modern approach to comfort food to this space.
The point here is that both restaurants bring instant recognition, something the media can lock onto, and a destination adding to the hotel experience. Personally, I am really excited about both of these new operations and am confident they will do exceptionally well. As for future partnerships, I am sure there are more to come.
The LA Live Team with Kerry Simon
LA Live LA Market view from top
The LA Market and LA Live development team
Kerry Simon?s signature Tuna Dynamite