Editorial Board   Guest Author

Mr. Parsons

Brad Parsons

Executive Chef, The Fairmont Chicago, Millennium Park

Brad Parsons, Executive Chef at the Fairmont Chicago, Millennium Park and aria restaurant, first joined the Fairmont team as Chef de Cuisine at the acclaimed aria in 2004. Since then, Chef Parsons has reinvented the cuisine at this luxury hotel with American comfort food inspired by flavors from around the world. Chef Parson's goal at the Fairmont Chicago is to raise guests' expectations about hotel dining. “Food is constantly changing and evolving,” he explains, “and as a chef, you have to change with the times and learn about new products and ingredients. You have to constantly reinvent.” Chef Parsons is always in search of what's new. When adding new dishes to the menu, he solicits input from his cooks, who have a variety of ethnic backgrounds - including Thai, Korean, South American, and Chinese - to give his menu an authentically global feel. Now responsible for a culinary staff of nearly 60, Chef Parsons feels strongly about empowering the people who work for him. During his tenure, he has hired and promoted nearly all of his key staff members. “If you don't hire and train the right people, you're not doing your job as a manager,” he says. “I want my team to be able to make decisions without me and I value their feedback.” An advocate of locally grown and seasonal ingredients, Chef Parsons and his purchasing managers regularly visit local farmers markets - especially the chef's favorite Green City Market - for food served at the Fairmont Chicago, Millennium Park. Chef Parsons earned a degree in hotel and restaurant management from Northern Arizona University, but fixed his sights on becoming a chef after taking a college culinary class. After his first kitchen job preparing breakfasts in Flagstaff, he received a degree from the Culinary Institute of America. Despite the fact that he had never cooked in a professional kitchen until college, Chef Parsons quickly rose through the ranks in some of the country's best restaurants, including Thomas Keller's Bouchon in Napa Valley, Rick Tramonto's Tru in Chicago, and Alan Wong's restaurant in Honolulu. Chef Parsons currently lives in the Taylor Street Neighborhood on Chicago's South Side with his daughter.

Mr. Parsons can be contacted at 312-565-8000 or brad.parsons@fairmont.com

Coming up in September 2019...

Hotel Group Meetings: Uncommon Destinations

The last few years have been good to the Hotel Group Meetings industry and that trend is expected to continue into 2019. Planners are brimming with confidence due to an expanding economy and increased job creation, which typically results in a boost in corporate meetings. Given this promising outlook, planners are trying to outdo themselves to satisfy the high expectations of their clients. One notable trend is to integrate unusual settings into the meeting experience, hosting groups at local zoos, aquariums, museums, event centers, or other outdoor facilities. The goal is to embrace uncommon destinations, rather than a typical hotel conference room, so that meetings can be memorable, unique and stimulating. This is also part of another trend which is to support all things local - from hosting events at landmark city venues; to catering through local restaurants, food trucks and microbreweries; to hosting off-site excursions like agri-tours, athletic events or scenic 5k routes. However, though the setting might be spectacular, there are still some bedrock components that must be provided to ensure a successful meeting. Free, high-speed Wi-Fi is still one of the most requested services. Planners have to make sure that a comprehensive communication infrastructure is in place so clients can easily connect - and stay connected - to the network throughout the entire meeting experience. Also, technology tools can be used to streamline the booking, registration, and check-in process, and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) materials can be utilized to ensure seamless access to conference events. There are also numerous software tools that encourage audience participation, as well as integrating polls, Q&A, surveys and games into speakers' presentations. The September Hotel Business Review will examine issues relevant to group meetings and will report on what some hotels are doing to promote this sector of their operations.