Chef’s point of view

When going out to dinner, I have always been one to trust recommendations of the chef over ordering randomly off a menu. I think I am being adventurous in this decision, while my family and colleagues are convinced I am just too vain to wear my glasses to read the menu.

As it turns out, my trusting thought process is one that many others share. The concepts of omakase — or “I’ll leave it you” — chef’s tables and tasting menus continue to be popular around the country. Famed chefs like Mario Batali and David Chang have been doing elaborate tasting menus for years, and people in the hospitality industry — myself included — are learning that guests are trusting chefs more often and trying things they never thought they’d order by participating in exclusive tables and tasting menus.

Recently we decided to try a pop-up chef’s table at our resort in Arizona. So far it has been a success. Limited to 14 seats at one long table, we’ve been booking the table quickly as guests and locals see it as their evening entertainment. Not only is the dinner a great deal — a four-course meal with three wines for US$75 — but it also works for guests who are looking for an interactive culinary experience without going overboard eating while on vacation, since the portions are smaller.

It is important for hoteliers to keep up with trends and have faith in their executive chefs to create memorable experiences like chef’s tables and tasting menus. We need to train our teams how to recommend items on the menu (without always picking the lobster) and have the confidence to lead our guests. The results are well worth it.