We all know how important food is.
Even before we’re born, expectant mothers are advised what to eat and what not to eat in order to ensure their baby’s future health and happiness. Studies have also shown that the type of food you eat can affect your mood throughout the day. So, it seems odd that so little attention is paid to the type of food we consume during business meetings; one of the times when your food choices are very important for your day.
We decided to sit down with one of Radisson Blu's Area Chefs to talk to him about the latest in food trends and feeding hungry professionals at Radisson Blu hotels in Central Europe.
What is your name and position?
Ralf Lampe, Executive Chef Radisson Blu Hamburg Airport & Area Chef - Central Europe
What inspired you to pursue a career in the food/culinary industry?
Many things of course, but I really enjoy the freedom to be creative, spontaneous and a little bit crazy, being a chef has to offer you. I’m constantly looking to try and learn about new schools of cooking, new flavors, different cultures – anything that excites me really.
Food is a major part of any culture in the world, and I love being able to surprise and delight our guests by combining familiar foods with foreign cooking styles or vice versa.
Can you briefly explain what excites you about cooking for Blu?
I like cooking for Radisson Blu because they give me the freedom to follow my passions, like what I said before.
At Blu, we host people from all over the world, and I like the challenge of creating dishes that are delicious but can still appeal to a wide variety of people. We’re encouraged to constantly improve our knowledge and understanding of food and food trends, in order to better be able to serve our guests. I think this makes the quality of food, both in the restaurants and for meetings and events held at our hotels, stand out from our competitors.
What makes cooking for a meeting/event different than cooking in a traditional restaurant?
You might think that cooking for meetings and events would be vastly different from cooking in a restaurant, but for me it isn’t.
I have the same high expectations for myself and my staff when preparing food for a traditional restaurant setting and an event. Making sure your food looks as good as it tastes is something we take very seriously at Blu. Hence, why we’ve developed these new ‘food trends’ for our Radisson Meetings at Blu.
We’ve created four different ‘styles’ or ‘themes’ for our meetings and events menu:
- Land + Place
- Wild Sensation
- Tasty Mood
Each of these themes incorporates all of the latest trends in food like using local/regional products, using seasonal products and an overarching focus on health. We’re excited to offer our business clients a healthy and impressive alternative to the buffets they usually encounter when in a meeting or event in a hotel.
What were the most interesting things you discovered when planning or researching these different food trends?
Honestly? I’m always surprised at how slow the hotel industry reacts to and incorporates food trends into their own menus.
We at Radisson Blu were the first to incorporate the idea of ‘BrainFood’, or healthy and fresh food, into the meeting and events space for hotels. Again, Radisson Blu is the first in the industry to further embrace these foodie trends, and offer these healthy options to our business clients. I think it’s one of the things that make this company really unique.
What do you think is the most important thing for planning food for meetings and events?
It has to be good, simple and authentic.
What is the dish you are most proud of creating and why?
Like Steve Jobs once said, “Good artists copy. Great artists steal”.
Usually chefs don’t create so much as we adapt really good ideas and develop them further for our own specific market. For example, right now we are serving pulled pork sandwiches for our meetings and events and people rave about them. It’s a very nostalgic, summertime food and our guests always have a strong positive reaction to them being on the menu.
Do you have any advice you could share for our followers for when they are cooking for larger groups at home?
Have your MEP right!
Ok, I probably need to explain that. This is something that if you’ve ever worked in a kitchen before, or you’re an avid cook, you know how important it is. Mise en place is French, and literally translated means “to put in place”.
Having a plan, preparing as much of your ingredients as you can before you actually cook is vital for making sure your meal runs as smoothly as possible; and will probably help prevent a lot of mistakes as well. Having your ingredients premeasured and ready to be added to your dish is the secret to any great dinner.
What do you think will be the next major food trends in the future?
That’s difficult to say. I think we’ll see people continue to be interesting in local, farm-to-table type food. I think multi-sensory food will also become increasingly popular, which is something we’re already incorporating into our BrainFood and Radisson Meeting menus.
Of course, at Blu we’re always looking at different ways to make our guests’ experience unique; so I’m excited by the challenge of translating the next ‘food trends’ into great food experiences for our guests.