I had a small moment of panic. Just a short one. My husband was gone on a two-month business trip, I was running around getting the kids packed so they could stay with friends while I traveled to Atlanta for the BlogHer Food conference. I caught my breath for a second — that little moment when I remembered I was traveling alone. I don’t know if you ever have this moment of panic, but I do. I prefer to travel with a companion. Quickly, though, I remembered I was staying as a guest at Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta. Silly me. No need to worry. They’ll help. It’s like home, only better.
I got the girls settled, flew to Atlanta, and was greeted by the friendly staff at Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta. The sweeping “Gone with the Wind” staircase welcomed me beneath glittering chandeliers. Ahh . . . relaxation set in (or should I say, “I was ready for a productive conference with seminars and networking”?). Four Seasons has built its reputation on impeccable service, and this location rose to the occasion. I truly felt at home.
I enjoyed meeting Chef Robert Gerstenecker and touring the restaurant, Park 75. Executive chef and Renaissance Man, Chef Gerstenecker not only runs a dynamic and remarkable restaurant, he’s creating ways to make Park 75 more sustainable. He keeps a rooftop garden, where he grows most of the herbs for the restaurant and some vegetables, such as jalapeño and bell peppers.
He also keeps two beehives that together produce 150-plus pounds of honey a year. Oh, and they make these to-die-for caramels from their honey. Hands-down, the best caramel I’ve ever tasted: buttery, sweet, and just the right amount of chew without sticking to your teeth.
The chef also makes his own chocolate! He starts with cacao beans, grinding and tempering them. (He only uses cacao beans, sugar and vanilla.) I asked him why he doesn’t use any soy, a common ingredient in chocolate. He said he’d researched the question and decided he didn’t feel the need for it. Sure, the chocolate might have the occasional sliver or two of crystallization, but the flavor or texture remain unaffected. Only the eye notices.
I loved touring the kitchens: the stainless-steel tables drenched in light, everyone in white, hard at work. The room service preparation went over the top; lots of planning and careful attention to detail. The tables stood lined up, ready to receive plates. The jams and honey lay nestled in trays, ready to augment a guest’s breakfast.
To ensure precise and personal service, signs adorned the walls just as the room service waiters left the kitchen. The signs right before the elevators were my favorite. “Do you know your guest’s name? Know your standards. Check your order!”
I chatted with the chefs and cooks as I walked through the kitchen. Robert Graney, the head of food and wine, has worked for the company for more than 10 years and says he would never leave. He thinks there’s no better company to work for.
After learning about the service philosophy, I’d have to agree. Maybe one day when I’m done writing cookbooks and blogging, I’ll apply for a job…
Carrie Vitt is the author of the cookbook Deliciously Organic and the publisher of the popular food blog Deliciously Organic. Husband, kid- and party-friendly, Deliciously Organic is brimming with the recipes and flavors families love — all created using wholesome, unrefined and organic ingredients. Carrie lives with her husband, an Air Force test pilot, and their two daughters in Southern California.
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