Sunday, August 18, 2013

Moving to Santa Cruz California! Troubleshooting for the Dream Inn Hotel 1990 - 1993

Moving to Santa Cruz California!  Troubleshooting for the Dream Inn Hotel 1990 -1993.

Santa Cruz here I come. This seaside community is a unique place to live, work and play. It was an easy move since my Son Rodmond lived in Santa Cruz. After a few days I went on a job hunt and landed the job as Food & Beverage Director for the Dream Inn Hotel. As the new Food & Beverage Director for the Dream Inn my challenges were about multitasking.

Being the new kid on the block and having to deal with a Chef’s Ego was not pleasant. In the end we parted and I hired new staff, the overhaul was staggering. The good part was I could put my stamp on the Food & Beverage Operation. I was responsible for 5 outlets: The Twelve Wind Restaurant, the Surf Diner, the Compass lounge, Banquets and room service. I had my work cut out for me transforming the Twelve Wind Restaurant into a California style Bistro.

The Twelve Winds Restaurant took on a new look; only cosmetic changes could be made as no money was available for a total remodel. To enhance the view, which was a look of the Bay, I first had the restaurant cleaned and some walls white washed. I added tablecloths, butcher paper and crayons to have the customer leave notes about the dining experience, good or bad (this was/is a good tool to correct any problem a Restaurant may have/had).  Add fresh flowers, candles on the tables and voila we had a pleasant environment. The menu was also upgraded to more current tastes. My Chef de Cuisine was Jerrie.  I have to say Jerrie was creative but easily rattled when the Restaurant was full.

We became very busy and I hired a new Chef, James, to head up the kitchen... He was creative and a good leader. He produced our first Winemaker Dinner at the Twelve Winds Restaurant with the Mirassou Winery Winemaker/ Owner. It was a roaring success and we had reservations for the next one. That did not happen because the owner of the Hotel wanted the marketing money spent at the room division. Needless to say I was peeved. The Owner did not see that the Winemaker Dinner brought in the locals and the VIP’s from surrounding companies.

A note of contention:
Hotels are notorious when something goes wrong with the room division to have F&B step in and sooth the customer with a basket of goodies or dinner for two, Champagne, Wine. This always annoyed me. The GM/Hotel Owner never gave Food & Beverages' budget a thought until you do not come up with the projected cost/profit. I then set up a budget to show how much it actually cost F&B. 

The second Restaurant was the Surf Diner. Breakfast and lunch was served, it was a typical diner, even though we upgraded the menu too. Breakfast was bedlam on weekends because the Dream Inn was, at that time a family Resort Hotel, and on weekends always packed. We served up to 300 breakfasts a day on weekends. At times the GM was recruited to help buss tables along with, of course, me.  Jerrie was my breakfast cook most weekends and she was great.

Banquets were a big money maker. I had hired a new Manager, David, Englander. David was very good at his job.

In 1992 I made another change and hired a very talented Chef, William Prime, and his sous chef Richard Vasquez. That team was a dynamo. Both Bill and Richard were creative with the food. The plate was their canvas.

I have to admit I was not an easy boss, I was always fair though. In the beginning of 1993 the Hotel downsized and eliminated the Director of Food & Beverage position. I did not see that coming. I received a generous exit package and within two weeks I took the job as Director of Food & Beverage at the Los Gatos Lodge in Los Gatos, California. The Sous Chef Richard followed me to Los Gatos which was good for my ego. He helped me do a turn around at the Los Gatos Lodge.

The drive from Santa Cruz to Los Gatos over Highway 17 was treacherous. Not a day went by that there was not an accident, yikes.

Working ten or more hours a day did not leave me much time for socializing - that is the down side working in hospitality. You really have to love it to be good at it and I was/am good. Now that I am retired I miss the hustle bustle and the attention I received from owners, the media and VIPs from companies I planned and did events for. Here is one of the popular recipes created by Bill Prime and Richard Vasquez while working at the Twelve Wind Restaurant:

Caribbean Style Linguine:

8 oz skinned, boneless chicken breast (cut julienne)
6 oz roasted andoullie sausage (sliced in half inch pieces)
¼ cup julienne cut bell peppers red & green
¼ cup julienne cut Bermuda onion
2 garlic cloves minced
2 shallots chopped
2 tsp. curry powder or to taste
½ tsp. ginger powder
2 oz dark rum
1 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp. olive oil
salt and crushed red pepper flakes to taste
8 oz fresh linguini
¼ stick butter
Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Sauté chicken and sausage until half done. Add peppers and onions, stir add garlic and shallots. Cook for about 5 minutes. Add curry and ginger powder cook for about 3 minutes, deglaze all with rum, and cook for 1 minute. Now add the heavy cream (room temperature) and cook until reduced by almost half stir in the butter and incorporate cook all for about 3 minute.

Toss with the fresh pasta correct seasoning and top with red pepper flakes.

Makes 4 servings