As the executive assistant manager for culinary/food and beverage at the Ritz-Carlton Charlotte, Jon Farace, 36, is often the first one in and the last to leave.
“I work 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. most days,” he says, noting that someone in his position “has to have a supportive family because it is a lifestyle change.”
The restaurant BLT Steak is actually managed separately, but Farace oversees everything else that is related to food and drink at the Ritz-Carlton. He is in charge of the front lobby restaurant and bar, Bar Cocoa (the hotel’s new dessert bar), room service, banquets, and Urban Sip (a wine and scotch bar on the hotel’s fifth floor).
Instead of wearing many hats, he wears one very tall one.
Farace, who was born and raised in Toronto, spent a few years after high school managing a restaurant. That convinced him to pursue a culinary degree, which he did at Canadore College, also in Canada.
In 2003, he was hired as the grand manager chef at the Ritz-Carlton in Atlanta. He has been with Ritz-Carlton ever since, changing cities (Boston and Orlando followed Atlanta) and positions (executive sous-chef) before becoming the executive chef of the Ritz-Carlton Charlotte when it opened in April 2009. His position was expanded to his current role in 2011.
As a certified LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) hotel, the Ritz-Carlton Charlotte encourages Farace to pursue green, environmentally-friendly initiatives. He uses local purveyors as much as possible, although sometimes the huge quantities the hotel must purchase precludes using small, local vendors.
“No local farm can give us the 300 heads of lettuce we need,” says Farace.
“We buy most of our cheeses locally and we try to work with local wineries,” Farace says.
At the general manager’s reception every Saturday afternoon, Farace provides the hotel guests with information on where each local product is produced and how each can be purchased.
He also partnered with local beekeepers to put beehives on the hotel’s roof.
“We produce 125-140 pounds of honey each year,” he says, noting that the honey is not used in recipes that are made en masse because it would be lost in them. Instead, the honey is used in Bar Cocoa’s honey-pecan gelato, in the honey yogurt served at breakfast, and in the spa as part of the honey and chocolate treatment.
“Every time we do something,” says Farace, “we do a lot of research to see what the culinary trends are.”
For instance, Farace attended a three-day class with a French jam master to gain the expertise he needed to produce the Ritz-Carlton’s jams, all of which are made in-house.
That expertise is then shared with the public in the form of cooking classes that are offered three Saturdays each month.
The classes reflect another goal of Farace’s, and that is to make the Ritz-Carlton more accessible. The hands-on cooking classes are reasonably priced and are specifically designed to teach the participants “recipes they can replicate at home.”
Katya Lezin is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Katya? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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