HIGH On The Hog

One of the amazing things about being a professional chef is the opportunity to exercise your creativity. This doesn’t happen as often as many of y’all might think. The daily routine required to run a professional kitchen involves unimaginably tedious, monotonous administrative work. Fortunately, the hospitality industry is filled with operations where working chefs can refine their craft and create delicious, clever, attractive, inspiring cuisine.

Expensive, upscale four- and five-diamond hotel properties are the places to be for chefs who really want to play with food. The reason, of course, is money. These are the types of properties where the guests are not only willing but happy to spend copious amounts of cash for luxurious accommodations, exceptional personal service and delectable, well-presented, creative cuisine. In other words, these are very cool places to Chef Up your game, especially as a garde manger chef.

The chef garde manger is responsible for supplying food to hotel areas outside the restaurants. These include guest room amenities (VIPs are the most fun), buffets and, everyone’s fave, “The Club.”

For those of you not in the know, The Club is a section, usually the top floor of a swanky hotel, reserved for special guests. What makes them special? They pay a huge up-charge for the privilege, for which they receive some of the most fantastic amenities imaginable.

First, Clubs offer the guests a dedicated concierge just for them, which means that all concierge services as well as any front desk service are just steps from your room with no waiting (in large hotels this is a huge deal). Next, a Club has a lounge-and not just any lounge, but one with extremely upscale fare and beverages. These are provided at no extra cost. Yeah, baby-this is how the other half lives.

Typically, there are four unique meals each day. The first is breakfast, super convenient, as it’s right down the hall. The next is lunch service; usually this is where the kitchen’s skill begins to shine. The menu offered is usually designed to be light, healthful and beautiful. One of my personal favorites is the tea sandwich.

Then around 5 p.m. come the appetizers. These can be anything the garde manger kitchen can dream up. They’re usually individual amuse bouche items-bite-sized fare you can eat a thousand of without getting full. The idea is, the guest enjoys a few samples, goes out to dinner, then returns for dessert.

Desserts are all little individual delicacies, usually accompanied by a nice cheese selection. Most important, top-shelf liquors are presented at this time. How often do you get the opportunity to sample super-expensive liquors? Oh, did I mention that beverages are available throughout the day? Believe me, this is the way to enjoy an upscale hotel. Try the Hawaii Club at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resortif you doubt me-or make this little tuna recipe to get in the mood.


Chef Bill’s Tuna Tartare

  • 1 Pound tuna, cleaned and brunoise
  • 10 Oz. English cucumber, seeded, brunoise
  • 2 Shallots, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. chives, sliced
  • 1/2 Avocado, brunoise
  • 3 Oz. extra virgin olive oil


  1. Gently mix the dry ingredients. Hold for service.
  2. Mix wet to dry to order.

Until we cook again,

Contact Chef Bill Thompson, owner of Amelia Island Culinary Academy in Fernandina Beach, at [email protected] to find inspiration and get you Cheffed Up!