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 March 2019...

Human Resources: An Era of Transition

Traditionally, the human resource department administers five key areas within a hotel operation - compliance, compensation and benefits, organizational dynamics, selection and retention, and training and development. However, HR professionals are also presently involved in culture-building activities, as well as implementing new employee on-boarding practices and engagement initiatives. As a result, HR professionals have been elevated to senior leadership status, creating value and profit within their organization. Still, they continue to face some intractable issues, including a shrinking talent pool and the need to recruit top-notch employees who are empowered to provide outstanding customer service. In order to attract top-tier talent, one option is to take advantage of recruitment opportunities offered through colleges and universities, especially if they have a hospitality major. This pool of prospective employees is likely to be better educated and more enthusiastic than walk-in hires. Also, once hired, there could be additional training and development opportunities that stem from an association with a college or university. Continuing education courses, business conferences, seminars and online instruction - all can be a valuable source of employee development opportunities. In addition to meeting recruitment demands in the present, HR professionals must also be forward-thinking, anticipating the skills that will be needed in the future to meet guest expectations. One such skill that is becoming increasingly valued is “resilience”, the ability to “go with the flow” and not become overwhelmed by the disruptive influences  of change and reinvention. In an era of transition—new technologies, expanding markets, consolidation of brands and businesses, and modifications in people's values and lifestyles - the capacity to remain flexible, nimble and resilient is a valuable skill to possess. The March Hotel Business Review will examine some of the strategies that HR professionals are employing to ensure that their hotel operations continue to thrive.