The way people shop for, prepare, and consume food has been evolving quickly in recent years. Consumers are more interested than ever in where their food comes from and what it contains. They are continually looking for healthy yet flavorful new preparation ideas.
The hospitality industry has taken notice of these trends, and some of the country’s largest and most luxury resorts are leading the effort to embrace them. One such pioneer is The Venetian and The Palazzo of Las Vegas, where Executive Banquet Chef Stefan Peroutka has devised innovative ways to meet changing and increasingly diverse guest needs.
A number of trends in hospitality echo recent themes in the consumer market, such as local sourcing, sustainable production and consumption, and a shift away from processed foods.
Chef Stefan and The Venetian and The Palazzo are on the forefront of the hospitality industry’s movement to address the modern food mindset and palate. Says Chef Stefan, “Increasingly, meeting and banquet guests want to know where their food comes from, how it is raised and fed, and they have a right to that information. We are responding.”
Menus at The Venetian and The Palazzo are more flexible than ever before, and are designed to address today’s increasingly fragmented dietary requirements. Every menu now features both vegan and vegetarian options. 85% of the resort’s standard menus are gluten free, and the kitchen uses a good mix of protein sources. Staff can also easily prepare kosher and halal menus in a separate kitchen.
In addition to addressing specific dietary challenges, The Venetian and The Palazzo is leveraging the diversity of its kitchen staff to craft innovative, ethnic menu options. Chef Stefan takes special pleasure in combining items from two distinct culinary worlds to craft flavorful hybrid menu options.
Part of the sustainability movement is a focus on sourcing ingredients from local producers. Local sourcing improves food freshness while reducing the buyer’s carbon footprint. The Venetian and The Palazzo, though situated in a desert climate, has been able to cultivate relationships with organic suppliers and artisan producers in a 300-mile radius of the resort. These local suppliers include a no-antibiotic charcuterie and a number of local bakeries. “We feature our local producers on our menus,” says Chef Stefan. “Guests like to learn where their food comes from, and they are enthusiastic about the idea of supporting smaller, local businesses.”
Fresh and Sustainable Ingredients
Consumers are increasingly steering clear of processed and GMO foods – and The Venetian and The Palazzo are doing the same. “People didn’t think it could be done, but we are doing it,” says Chef Stefan. “We have 450 standard recipes that we always make from scratch, avoiding processed and GMO foods. We also follow what we call ‘cook and chill’ practices, prioritizing fresh ingredients over frozen and canned foods.” The staff also abides by the mantra that “environment dictates nutrition” – so at The Venetian and The Palazzo, seasonal ingredients are valued and prioritized throughout the year.
Meat and fish can also be sourced and prepared in a sustainable fashion. The Venetian and The Palazzo catering operation butchers its own meat and fish, and makes an effort to select fish that is currently in abundance. In addition, the staff adheres to the principle of “whole animal consumption,” eliminating waste by making efficient and healthy use of meat and fish scraps and by-products.
One of the most critical sustainability practices is waste reduction, and it applies to the food industry as much as any other. At The Venetian and The Palazzo, the catering team engages in continual improvement by conducting a waste tracking analysis after every group. Says Chef Stefan, “We can quickly see how our actual consumption deviated from our plan, and adjust future purchasing accordingly.” The team also regularly donates leftover items to local food banks.
Healthy, sustainable food practices are taking hold across the business community. Says Chef Stefan, “Many of our client groups are just as focused on sustainable and responsible practices as we are. It’s really a collaborative effort. We help clients achieve their sustainability objectives – but do so in a way that enhances the overall F&B experience.”
Learn more at https://www.venetian.com/conventions.html