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 & Cafe 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 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.