In case you missed it, Interstate Hotels & Resorts launched 27 new vegetarian and vegan menu options at the beginning of this year. I posted the article on Green Lodging News. Leading the effort for Interstate is the company’s V.P. of Food & Beverage Operations, Bradley Moore. By e-mail, I asked Moore about the new culinary promotion.
GLN: Developing a new series of menu items for a company the size of Interstate is a major project. Upon what research did you rely to prompt such an investment in veggie/vegan options? Is it just Millennials pushing this trend?
Moore: We are fortunate to have an extensive database available to Intestate’s corporate food and beverage department to continually analyze trends in purchasing behavior and more. In addition, our partners at Cleveland Menu provided information on what meat-free options our hotels were currently offering on their menus. The results told us we had a great opportunity to fill the gap between what our hotels had been offering and what todays’ travelers are seeking in their food and beverage experience. Ultimately, we discovered that only 12.2 percent of hotels had been offering vegetarian dishes, and less than 2 percent of hotels were selling vegan options. Third party research showed the number of vegetarians and vegans had grown 350 percent in the last 10 years in the United States, and only 42 percent are 15 to 34 years old. We think the vegetarian and vegan trend, while driven by Millennials, crosses generations.
GLN: How many full-service hotels are being impacted by this?
Moore: Presently 75 full-service hotels throughout the United States.
GLN: On the meeting side, do you get many requests for veggie/vegan options?
Moore: Yes, we do and it’s another reason why we developed as many recipes as we did knowing the need in catering and banquets to meet the culinary demands of meeting planners and meeting attendees.
GLN: How long has this change been in process?
Moore: We began creating and testing recipes in late summer of 2017, and rolled the program out to the hotels internally on December 1 of 2017 to prepare them for the January 1 public launch.
GLN: Give me an idea of the challenges that go along with finding fresh, local options for your restaurants?
Moore: Interstate hotels benefit from a lot of great partnerships across the country that we have with regional and national programs in place.
GLN: Tell me about your experience at the Culinary Vegetable Institute. How long did your team spend there and what were some of the primary lessons learned?
Moore: It was absolutely incredible! We spent a week creating recipes, used records, photography and videos. We ended up walking away with 27 really great recipes and this newfound knowledge of how creative and tasty plant-based recipes could be.
GLN: How many folks make up Interstate’s Food and Beverage Advisory Council and who are they?
Moore: The Interstate Food & Beverage Advisory Board is made up of Interstate Chefs, Food & Beverage Directors and Catering Professionals from both our full-service and select-service hotels.
GLN: Can you give me an example or two of a dish that was developed by one of your own Executive Chefs?
Moore: For example, Executive Chef Oliver Ridgeway prepared the Corn Risotto, one of the final dishes selected for this promotion.