Mr. Pfefferkorn

Food & Beverage

F&B Inspired Breakouts: How Interactive Breakouts Are Spicing Up the Meeting & Convention Experience

By Martin Pfefferkorn, Executive Chef, Hyatt Regency Atlanta

As Executive Chef at Hyatt Regency Atlanta, I oversee the restaurants at the hotel as well as the weddings, social gatherings and corporate functions that take place in our 180,000 square feet of event space. I present unique menu specialties blending my own inspirations with the indigenous ingredients of the New South.

Southerners, and visitors to Atlanta, expect a certain amount of classic comfort food, however what they find in today's menu selection is not your mama's comfort food. Pimento Cheese, Biscuits and Jam, and blackberry cobblers are a few examples of comfort food selections whose recipes have been reinvented. Gone are the days of heavy "fat" laden recipes. I like to bring an explosion of flavor using the concept that "less is more" and "fresh is best." Southern sophistication has found its way into the largest and smallest kitchens. Atlanta brags more than eight contenders in the "Top Chef" popular show.

The Hyatt Regency Atlanta is satisfying Meeting Planners hungry for innovative breakout ideas. The hotel offers over the largest ballroom in the state to small boardrooms for executive meetings. We embrace our Southern roots and allow experts to run the show with interactive and learning-based breakouts.

According to information provided by Elizabeth Mann, Sales Manager for an Atlanta Destination Management and Corporate Event Planning Company, Juice Studios, there is an increase in demand for meeting breaks that not only incorporate refreshments for attendees but also an interactive learning experience. She also said, planners are presenting the challenge to keep corporate groups entertained and enlightened between breaks in meetings while integrating the current and evolving food trends.

Crafty with Craft Beer

George Brown, Senior Food & Beverage Director at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta, isn't the type to settle for a boring event. Based off a concept used in the hotel's Lobby bar, Twenty-Two Storys, Brown helped bring craft beer to the forefront of the interactive breakout experience.

"The Beer Break is offered to Meeting Planners interested in satisfying the palates of their attendees with the flavors of local ales, lagers and cuisine," said Brown. "We also make it a point to explain how our local partners help us to bring seasonal flavors to life, staying true to Hyatt's new global philosophy, 'Food. Carefully Sourced. Thoughtfully Prepared.'"

Brown creates a breakout that could introduce anything from the citrusy hints of wheat beers to the extreme hoppiness of Pale Ales. The hotel's beer experts will organize a 60-minute Beer Break educational session, for approximately 25-50 people and set out to tell the story of how they marry locally-sourced food and ale. The first portion of the seminar emphasizes the background of the raw product such as the ingredients and brewing process, while the second half focuses entirely on the tasting experience. Six categories of craft beer are selected and two types of each are offered - totaling a 12-beer sampling.

Muddling Meetings

Noting the rise in the popularity of all things herbs, the bar staff has also worked other libations into the Meeting Breaks teaching groups about the century- old technique of muddling. Muddling is a current trend, built upon a rebirth of the ancient renaissance art of combining (smashing) fresh fruit and herbs together, to create unique imaginative and original "mock"tails. With Creations like watermelon and cucumber Mojito's, the old Mint Julep's of years past is but a distant memory.

Kitchen Clever

A major portion of meeting success is in the ability to be fresh and creative when delivering solutions to clients. The "farm-to-table" concept or "farm-to-fork" as it is often referred, is a reflection of America's agricultural awakening and is in full swing in Atlanta. To achieve this mark, it requires a marriage of "comfort foods" that hit the mark on flavor and taste along with integrating the local markets and supply chains. Located in the Deep South, Atlanta is a progressive city, yet like the old oaks along Peachtree Street, its roots run deep into the past.

After beginning my culinary career in hotels and restaurants in my native country of Austria, I began ascending the ranks of various Hyatt properties throughout the United States. My expertise in implementing regional and cultural influences to create critically acclaimed fare is what earned me the opportunity to be one of the chief visionaries of a $65 million makeover of the Hyatt Regency Atlanta, which encompassed three new food and beverage ventures at the base of the hotel's historic Atrium Lobby.

We have dedicated ourselves to finding the finest local farms to provide our guests the best available ingredients. It's our passion to continue to offer a regionally sourced menu for any event setting that people will enjoy for years to come - like the traditional family suppers they cherish.

Working in tandem with Juice Studios, my culinary team at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta has conducted several interactive team-building activities from the hotel kitchen. "We have had Clients break into smaller groups, donning chef hats and aprons and participate in a cake decorating clinic lead by the hotel's Pastry Chef," said Mann. "They had to acquire the 'fixings' needed to decorate the cake, only after answering trivia questions about the company. Everyone left the event enlightened, entertained and educated."

Hyatt's global philosophy focuses on sourcing and providing healthy food and beverage options for Hyatt guests and associates and that are good for the local communities in which they reside and good for the planet. Embarking on the journey to become the first global hospitality brand to make an effort of this magnitude, this philosophy will guide our food and beverage planning from the operational level to the guest experience. With this long term strategy, we will work to anticipate and satisfy the evolving preferences of its guests, ensuring that travelers have more options to fit their needs and lifestyles while staying in Atlanta. The implementation of the philosophy, which began in the U.S. in mid-2011, includes sourcing and serving meat without supplemental growth hormones or antibiotics, cage-free eggs, sustainable seafood, and fresh local ingredients that reflect the season and local flavors. We are also reducing the use of ingredients with high amounts of sodium and additives and serving beverages with natural sweeteners such as agave nectar.

Food. Thoughtfully Sourced. Carefully Served. is a key component of the health and wellness pillar of Hyatt Thrive, Hyatt's global corporate responsibility platform designed to enable thriving communities.

My culinary expertise extends to restaurants and resorts in my homeland of Austria, where I also received my culinary certification and served my apprenticeship. Preceding my arrival at Hyatt Regency Atlanta, I worked as the Executive Chef at Hyatt Regency Albuquerque. Prior to that, I was the Executive Sous Chef at the Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort & Spa in San Antonio and as Chef de Cuisine for the Corn Maiden, the fine dining restaurant located at Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort & Spa. I have also worked with Hyatt Regency Albuquerque, the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island and a number of leading resort and hotels in Austria.

Chef Martin Pfefferkorn has joined the landmark Hyatt Regency Atlanta as Executive Chef with plans to open three new restaurant concepts as part of the hotelís $65 million transformation in 2011. Chef Pfefferkorn, an Austrian-born, classically trained chef with more than 20 years of experience in hotels and resorts around the world, is renowned for his expertise in catering for large events and gatherings, including weddings, social banquets, business meetings and corporate functions. Chef Pfefferkorn is passionate about bringing local, seasonal food to hotel dining. His recipes have a uniquely fresh, Atlanta flavor and incorporate locally grown vegetables and regional fish, poultry and pork products. ďPeople expect more from a hotel dining experience, and theyíre looking for more responsible choices in their dining. Thatís why we designed our food and beverage concepts at Hyatt Regency Atlanta with items like local beers, regional vegetables and meat. Even if our guests canít leave the hotel, we want them to experience a taste and flavor of Atlanta,Ē Chef Pfefferkorn said. Mr. Pfefferkorn can be contacted at 404-577-1234 or mark.pfefferkorn@hyatt.com Extended Bio...

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