Banquet buffets are trending in the direction of small plate displays, leaving behind the chafing dish with heavy “bulk” preparations.
Quick bites and small plates allow guests to sample many different dishes in one dining experience. They support the trend toward sharing, not overeating, and sampling a variety of flavors. In a banquet setting, they can facilitate moving around and socializing.
At a recent “meet and greet,” hosted by the Kahler Hospitality Group, an array of new banquet foods was displayed and served. As I exited, passing by Salute, the signature restaurant of the Rochester Marriott, my interest was piqued. What were they offering these days?
It was no surprise to find a burger on their menu. The insight that followed, however, proved the surprise. About 18 months ago, Marriott International reaffirmed steps to ensure their ingredient supply chain is of the highest quality and integrity. Notably, they were years into their 100 percent traceable burger program, their global trans-fat ban launched in 2007 and FutureFish sustainable seafood program adopted in 2010.
Over the past 10 years, Marriott has promoted locally sourced foods as much as possible, in response to the increased demand for organic ingredients by consumers as public awareness of health issues and nutrition has risen.
A recent added standard was made directing suppliers to provide only cage-free eggs and liquid egg products. As for commercial pork production, they are directing their suppliers to discontinue the use of gestation confinement crates by 2018.
Here at Salute, one finds another little-known gem: homemade mozzarella.
Chef Seth Essar oversees kitchen production at all levels. He views food as “an art,” having grown up in a “foodie” family. His father was in the profession as well, having trained at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris.
“My training now allows me to step out of the box,” Essar said. He has tried numerous presentations with Salute’s yellow curd mozzarella (the curd color results from the milk source and the enzymes used in making the cheese though the final cheese appears white).
Quality and integrity doesn’t lie just with the food prepared and presented. Hospitality is a core value, as expressed by the local management. Regional General Manager Patrick Short believes this is expressed in a true demonstration of “wanting to take care of people and in the true sense of compassion” which given the Kahler-Marriott’s proximity to Mayo he feels is of utmost importance.
Short believes this carries into the culinary realm. Essar said, for him, it is a “true gift to address individual palates and culinary needs, be it cultural, religious or simply reaching them by presenting something they find familiar, and comforting, from their childhood.”
In the months ahead, undoubtedly some menu changes will be seen. However, the Mozzarella Fresca — sliced fresh mozzarella with local tomatoes, Italian olive oil and fresh basil — is here to stay, having become a clear favorite of guests.
Burrata Pugliese is another popular small plate. Trying this unique item for the first time, one is in awe. It is a delicious ball of fresh mozzarella stuffed with mozzarella curd that has been finely chopped and mixed with heavy cream and a bit of sugar. It is served with a drizzle of balsamic, cherry tomatoes and fresh basil.
Salute’s “Torta Umbria” pizzas offer another great dish for sharing. Essar notes this is a Northern-style traditional pizza in which the dough is flipped over before baking, and yes, at Salute, the dough is homemade. You will find homemade crab cakes and other tempting small plates.
Indeed, Salute strives to deliver unique small plates and compassionate service.