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What's New in Food and Service Trends this Summer?
Three Distinguished Chef's Share Their Perspectives

May 2012 - With summer travel taking guests around the country – from California to Texas – it’s good to know that top Chefs at luxury hotels are noting trends and incorporating them into their restaurant’s fare to engage patrons and the public. Many have also added personal touches that go beyond the kitchen. What’s new in food and service trends this summer? We talked to three renowned chefs around the country to get their perspective.
Executive Chef Robert Sapirman of Hotel Valencia Santana Row in San Jose, California engages patrons by making himself available and visible. Throughout the night, he incorporates what he calls “table touches,” where he physically stops by the table to talk to guests, into his nightly routine. He also works directly with hotel guests that have questions or special needs, puts together tastings for those planning special events, visits the local farmer’s market and participates in local events sponsored by charities.
In terms of trends, Chef Sapirman sees movement towards smaller portions. People are choosing restaurants that serve tapas, mezes or antipasti, showing their preference for plates that are good for sharing and offer a wide variety of different flavors in one meal.
Executive Chef Jeffery Balfour of Hotel Valencia Riverwalk in San Antonio, Texas also likes to engage the public by participating in local events throughout the San Antonio community and in cities across the country, including those run by charitable organizations. He also takes pride in the restaurant staff’s interaction and support with local vendors, purveyors, producers and farmers.
Chef Balfour sees a trend toward family style cooking and comfort food. The team at his hotel’s restaurant, Citrus, is often asked to prepare family style menus for formal functions in their hotel, such as fried chicken and homemade pickles, along with their more sophisticated menus. This push becomes a blend of two worlds – the new and innovative combined with the opportunity to enjoy personal favorites and share dining experiences.
Executive Chef Rolando Soza of Hotel Sorella CITYCENTRE in Houston, Texas sees engaging with patrons as an opportunity to understand their likes and dislikes, and it provides him the opportunity to share his passion for cooking. If a guest has questions, he jumps on the opportunity to visit the table and allow them to ask him directly – which he’s found also contributes positively to the overall dining experience.

Chef Soza sees a trend toward lighter fare, with a focus continuing to grow towards utilizing local farmers and producers. He and his team have built relationships with vendors around the Houston area to ensure the freshest and most sustainable products are used to prepare meals. 

Wherever your travel takes you this summer, visits to any of these chef’s hotels will surely result in a unique and pleasurable dining experience.

About Valencia Group

Valencia Group, a Houston-based company, provides management, development, branding, and repositioning services for full-service, boutique, independent hotels owned by Valencia as well as third parties. As with Hotel Valencia Santana Row in San Jose, California, Hotel Sorella CITYCENTRE in Houston and Hotel Valencia Riverwalk in San Antonio, most Valencia-sponsored hotels are set in the cultural heart of each city.  Valencia Group’s newest hotel concept is a 21st century re-interpretation of the nostalgic motor court.  The flagship will be Lone Star Court, an authentic Americana roadside hotel, that will open in Austin’s Domain in January 2013.  Valencia Group hotels fuse globally-inspired modern design with Mediterranean influences, becoming popular destinations for guests and visitors alike. Valencia Group continues to forge its position as a mixed-use anchor with projects where the right balance of residential, restaurant, retail and office coalesce to create full-spectrum accretive value in great urban settings. Known for exceptional service and style, Valencia Group properties have received international recognition by magazines such as Condé Nast and Travel + Leisure, and by discerning travelers seeking a memorable experience. For more information, please visit

Hotel Valencia Santana Row
Tel: 408.551.0010

Hotel Valencia Riverwalk
Tel: 210.227.9700

Hotel Sorella CITYCENTRE
Tel: 1.713.973.1600

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