Pedro Sanchez began his career working at independent restaurants and tenured with Marriott International before settling in as the first executive chef of Paramount Hospitality Management (PHM). Sanchez now creates menus that change the way PHM sees food and beverage outlets and economy dining.
Sanchez recently began a food and beverage program that brings a little upscale flair to the Avanti Palms Resort–traditionally an economy brand. The Avanti Palms has several F&B outlets and offerings, including a recently opened lobby bar with American gastropub-style cuisine and a cocktail menu, on-property banquets, room service, and a pool bar.
“The first challenge was coming up with an idea for the in-room dining menu, pool bar, and café,” he explains. “All the food has to come from the same kitchen. I had to figure out how to have ingredients crossover, but at the same time, create something completely different for three different areas.”
While Sanchez is more accustomed to working with fine dining restaurants with high-end ingredients, he says that he is able to locally source fresh, cheap ingredients to make the Avanti Palms menu more affordable. “The guests don’t have $100 to spend on breakfast and lunch. We’re trying to stay in the margin where people can spend money but still have their families fed,” Sanchez says.
With affordable prices, the Avanti Palms Café serves the dishes that guests want the most during their stay. One of Sanchez’s favorites is a New York-style personal pizza, which is made fresh every day in a brick oven and has toppings sourced from Florida. The local burger, another of Sanchez’s favorites, has 80 percent Wagyu beef and is served with a fried egg on top. “They’re great ingredients but we’re giving guests what they want–quesadillas, hot dogs, burgers, and pizzas,” Sanchez adds. “We’re not reinventing the world—we’re giving people what they want to eat in the right way with quality ingredients.”
Modifying menus with more upscale food and beverage choices while keeping prices affordable can help better serve a hotel’s targeted guests, attract more customers, and drive more on-property spending. Sanchez also notes that hotel staff are key to serving up great food. “When you’re cooking with love, the food is going to reflect that. Everything is reflected in the food, and at the end of the day, I want my staff to feel motivated and appreciated to produce good quality food.”
Photo: “Old-Bay Crab Crusted Hot Dog”—a pretzel bun with a kosher hot dog, topped with crab seasoned with old bay and beer cheese