Bringing the chef out front

Published in FSD Update

G.U.E.S.T. encourages customer interaction with the chef. 

A new program at Highmark, in Pittsburgh, is bringing the chef to the table. Through weekly Chef’s Table demonstrations, Highmark employees and guests are invited to be the G.U.E.S.T. of Cameron Clegg, executive chef with Parkhurst Dining at Highmark. The sessions allow Clegg to personally interact with guests to answer questions, field comments and feedback, and introduce them to new menu items while sharing tools and information to prepare healthier dishes at home. The program is “taking away the middleman,” according to Clegg, who is eager to “get out of his comfort zone back of house” and communicate directly with guests while learning from them as well.

The program has five specific goals, incorporated in the acronym G.U.E.S.T.:

  • Guest-Chef Interaction to involve guests in “food-to-table” dining with culinary exhibitions
  • Unique Opportunity for the chef to be visible and in direct communication with guests to offer a total café experience
  • Experience Culinary Creations so that guests can sample healthful meals made with authentic ingredients and intense flavor profiles
  • Satisfy Desire to Learn by providing simple takeaway techniques for use in everyday home cooking
  • Tell Us Feedback by sharing comments to improve guest satisfaction and support a better overall dining experience.

Healthy items are prepared during the weekly sessions and are focused on a central theme, such as spices, or around global events, like the Olympics. Samples and recipes of the demoed items are available for guests, and larger portions are available as an add-on to meals. “We want to get guests more excited and increase guest participation,” says Lenny DeMartino, general manager for Parkhurst at Highmark. “And it’s a nice way to increase check average.” 

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