Editorial Board   Guest Author

Mr. Absenger

Werner Absenger

Chef de Cuisine, Cygnus 27 at Amway Grand Plaza

Chef Werner Absenger, chef de cuisine, has helped propel Cygnus 27, one of the highest-ranked restaurants in Michigan, into the forefront of the state’s premier culinary scene. Located atop the Amway Grand Plaza in Grand Rapids, MI, Cygnus 27 has been a distinguished AAA Four-Diamond restaurant for nine years. The initial Four-Diamond recognition in 2004 was only the beginning as, under Chef Absenger’s leadership, Cygnus 27 has been named Restaurant of the Year by Grand Rapids Magazine three times. In 2010, the Michigan Lodging and Tourism Association awarded Chef Absenger the Stars of the Industry Culinary Employee of the Year Award for excellence in the Michigan lodging and tourism industry. Chef Absenger has been with the Amway Grand Plaza for 10 years. A 20-year culinary industry veteran, he has held posts at Alpenrose Restaurant & Café in Holland, MI as chef de cuisine and executive chef, and at the Grand Hotel in Mackinac Island, MI where he worked in various positions ranging from chef tournant to banquet chef. Chef Absenger also honed his skills at the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort and Spa at Gainey Ranch in Scottsdale, AZ and at the Hotel Gasthof Gramshammer in Vail, CO. Before joining the culinary team at the Amway Grand Plaza, Chef Absenger was an entrepreneur and operated an organic smoothie bar, Juz C, in Grand Haven, MI. As the owner, he developed the menu, concept, and theme of this healthy establishment from 2001-2003. In his native Austria, Chef Absenger completed a four-year apprenticeship at the Hotel Goldener Ochs in Melk, Austria and attended chef school at Landesberufsschule für das Gastgewerbe in Waldegg, Austria. He later served as a chef in the Austrian military at one of its hospitals in Wien-Stammersdorf before moving to the United States in 1988. A chef by trade and a scientist at heart, Chef Absenger’s true passion lies with studying the modulatory effects nutrition and other mind-body treatments have on cancer patients. In 2008, Chef Absenger earned his Bachelor of Science degree in alternative medicine from Everglades University in Boca Raton, FL. In 2010, he earned his Masters of Science in human nutrition from Bridgeport University in Bridgeport, CT. He is currently working towards a Doctorate in mind-body medicine from Saybrook University in San Francisco, CA. As a member of the executive board for the Greater Grand Rapids Food Systems Council, Chef Absenger helped to develop the Cultivating Urban Seeds of Prosperity (CUSP) program in 2007. The organization supports local farmers by providing a market for urban growers to sell their produce to restaurants and other outlets.

Mr. Absenger can be contacted at 616-774-2000 or WAbsenger@amwaygrand.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.