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Insights on Interacting with Busy Executives

Meg McDonough, President of Luxury Hospitality Consultants LLC in Sarasota, Florida, is a regular contributor for HospitalityEducators.com. She recently completed an in-depth interview with the Executive Pastry Chef at one of the best-known hotel brands in the world, and we wanted to share some additional background with our readers on how these interactions come to be.

John Hogan, Co-Founder of HospitalityEducators.com

Interview with Guillaume Marchand

Ritz Carlton-Sarasota Hotel

The Challenges of a Pastry Chef

Q.  Why did you choose Chef Marchand?   

I came across his creation of the Gingerbread Mansion while attending the Winefest celebration held in Sarasota. Chef and his team fashioned a built-to-scale edible masterpiece fashioned after the real mansion which John Ringling built for himself and his wife in Sarasota as their winter residence. The home is called Ca d’Zan (“House of John”) and is located on the John and Mable Ringling Museum grounds. The home was also used for the filming of a more recent version of “Great Expectations” starring Gwyneth Paltrow, Ethan Hawke, and Anne Bancroft (to name a few).

Q. What was special about this particular Chef?   

Chef Marchand had previously worked for the Ritz-Carlton in Barcelona and I wanted to learn about the challenges he has encountered while working in a different country. I find the cross-cultural aspects when dealing with food preparations to be of interest. As my interview will show, he will soon be undertaking a new assignment in Dubai for the Ritz-Carlton. This, to me, is so propitious for career-minded professionals who are talented and skilled in their trade and get to see the world.

Q. What is the one thing readers will take away?     

The amount of time one is willing to devote to a skilled trade, in this case – pastry arts, will always take time and patience. I think the apprenticeship route is most typical for European-based chefs and the level of schooling adds to the incredible opportunities that will come forward. Talent, temperament and outright professionalism will determine one’s chosen path.

The various high-end hotel brands, in general, provide excellent avenues for talented personnel and executives to transfer within their chains and this, in my opinion, has great appeal for those individuals seeking the experiences and challenges one finds in working in different locales around the world. I’ve also been cognizant of the fact that when the culinary staff works together cohesively as a team, they heed the best in service marks overall.

Utmost in my search for quality standards within the hospitality industry is the calibre of respect employees have for one another and this was quite evident at the Ritz-Carlton. They pride themselves on self-leadership qualities. They are trained with a professionally mastered seven-week orientation course before they are even hired. Chef Marchand is on mark.

Q. Is the hotel or the chef the center of the message?

Chef Marchand becomes my model of a dynamic employee who fosters intelligence with accomplishments in a continuing growth pattern. It’s so energizing to see such vitality when someone has talent and they are more keen to share it with the rest of their “creative team” in the kitchen. He is both instructor and a continuing student himself – I think that’s the dynamic message. Growth never stops when one gets to the top (there’s always another door to go through).