Changes In Tabletop Abound As Top Chefs Open Hotel Eateries

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Tabletop design from H. Weiss Company
Tabletop design from H. Weiss Company

If you haven’t noticed high-end restaurants are now becoming a must have for hotels. It’s really not all that surprising either; in fact it makes perfect sense.

Liz Weiss
Liz Weiss

High-end chefs make a hotel more of a destination, drawing more customers to stay and have dinner. It’s really a win-win for both parties. With chefs including Tom Colicchio’s Fowler and Wells in the Beekman Hotel and Andrew Carmellini’s new Italian restaurant in the William Vale Hotel in Brooklyn, clearly high-end hotel eateries are a major trend.

So as you tour the HX show this month, I would like for you to keep an open mind in the overlapping of tabletop design for your restaurant but also for event/banqueting ware. This means having more durable glasses that are appropriate for servicing up to 150 diners. Lets talk about china now; it may sound odd but having china that melts into the background rather than to stand out provides a calmer table. You don’t want to create conflict between the themes of the brides. Another interesting strategy that you can use is to use two different sets of china that convey different price points but are close enough to look like they are part of the same group. Lets say you use brite china or delicate ones in the restaurant and then high-end alumina in banqueting. Then use lofty wide and heavy flatware in the restaurant while using ore scratch resistant flatware in banqueting. Now for glassware I would recommend using tall delicate stems for expensive wines and then stemless lowers and more durable glasses for events. Most people do not really consider the sizes and what it does for portion control when talking about drinks especially on a banquet table. Crowding banquet tables is something most restaurateurs are not really considering but it is very important to your diners.

One of the hardest things for a restaurateur to decide on is tabletop cloth. White is always king but being able to change looks with accessories with lines and table toppers is just as vital. Bar metal and colors are easily wiped and kept clean, if you are looking for the tight fitting modern look “snuba” cloths are available in many colors and are easily washed and stored.

After you have decided what cloths are right for your table you have to consider plates and bowls. If you own you have to make sure to consider durability and compactness. High-density chinas like Lenox are a safe bet, they have the fully glazed bottom and nest that will take less room. Lenox has the added appeal of the Lenox back stamp. Both are high quality and look great! Both factories have many different shapes and sizes and provide each course with a unique look. You can serve more items in beautiful bowls like a deep tulip bowl or a dressed coupe bowl. You can let the color come from the food and garnishes rather than the china. When serving specialty items this provides the opportunity to use unorthodox items for example use mason jars for desert and shot glasses for soup.

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Now you have to remember this is a hotel so you have to consider the importance of room service. This is an aspect that is completely new for chefs so it becomes a bit of a challenge so pay attention. Chefs now need to figure out how to present their vision while transporting food throughout the hotel. Lets start at the bottom and work our way up; the cart is the first thing to consider. Get a nice cart with sides, laminated and enclosed to hide a mess, if possible have a wood core to provide sound absorption. Use nice trays that compliment the plates, use specialty napkins with something special on them, like your logo, or a napkin ring, coaster but something that the guests can take home.

Now if you picture this all together you have created a beautiful spread for your restaurant, your banquets and events, and for room service. This is uncharted territory for these culinary teams, it certainly is an exciting time for the hospitality industry and at H. Weiss we are excited to share ideas as you update your vision.

Liz Weiss is the President and co-owner of Armonk, NY based H. Weiss Co. She is known nationally as one of the nation’s foremost authorities on tabletop design. The Michigan State graduate is also actively involved with WPO-Women’s Presidents Organization. Comments may be sent to eweiss@hweiss.net