Mr. Gerstenecker

Robert Gerstenecker

Executive Chef

Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta

Robert Gerstenecker joined Four Seasons in 1989 and worked his way up from part-time carver to executive chef during moves to properties in Toronto, Hong Kong, New York and Palm Beach. "When I hit Atlanta, something happened," he says. "I realized I could have a country experience and still be a part of a big city."

That experience is important to Mr. Gerstenecker, who grew up on a working farm in On-tario, Canada, and experienced the transformation of food first hand. "My mother would pull the cream off the top of fresh milk from our cows, make butter with it and feed us the milk," he says. "Growing up on a farm never seemed important to me, but now I realize it's not common to know where food really comes from."

Mr. Gerstenecker, who lives on a four-acre farm just north of Atlanta, isn't satisfied to leave the land behind when he comes to work. In 2009 he started a garden on the outdoor terrace of the hotel’s fifth floor that produces everything from cauliflower and teardrop tomatoes to mint for mojitos at the hotel bar. "I harvested 300 pounds of basil from the rooftop garden last year," he says. "It was so plentiful, we pureed it with olive oil and froze it."

Instead of picking all the basil, he lets some of it flower, which makes the bees in his rooftop apiary very happy. Mr. Gerstenecker uses their honey—more than 800 pounds since 2009—in tea, oatmeal and desserts and various products for the hotel spa.

After 25 years in the industry, Mr. Gerstenecker is just as excited about cooking today as the day he baked his first cake with a light bulb. "I'm addicted to the challenge of making sure each guest has an incredible food experience," he says. "Food is ever evolving—you can never be perfect at it, but that doesn't stop me from trying every day."

Please visit http://www.fourseasons.com for more information.

Mr. Gerstenecker can be contacted at 844-623-5029 or robert.gerstenecker@fourseasons.com

Coming Up In The September Online Hotel Business Review




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Feature Focus
Hotel Group Meetings: Blue Skies Ahead
After a decade of sacrifice and struggle, it seems that hotels and meeting planners have every reason to be optimistic about the group meeting business going forward. By every industry benchmark and measure, 2017 is shaping up to be a record year, which means more meetings in more locations for more attendees. And though no one in the industry is complaining about this rosy outlook, the strong demand is increasing competition among meeting planners across the board – for the most desirable locations, for the best hotels, for the most creative experiences, for the most talented chefs, and for the best technology available. Because of this robust demand, hotels are in the driver’s seat and they are flexing their collective muscles. Even though over 100,000 new rooms were added last year, hotel rates are expected to rise by a minimum of 4.0%, and they are also charging fees on amenities that were often gratis in the past. In addition, hotels are offering shorter lead times on booking commitments, forcing planners to sign contracts earlier than in past years. Planners are having to work more quickly and to commit farther in advance to secure key properties. Planners are also having to meet increased attendee expectations. They no longer are content with a trade show and a few dinners; they want an experience. Planners need to find ways to create a meaningful experience to ensure that attendees walk away with an impactful memory. This kind of experiential learning can generate a deeper emotional connection, which can ultimately result in increased brand recognition, client retention, and incremental sales. The September Hotel Business Review will examine issues relevant to group business and will report on what some hotels are doing to promote this sector of their operations.