Tavistock Restaurant Collection (TRC) Vice President of Food & Beverage, Michael Ferraro, ushered in the new year with an expanded team of heavy-hitting industry executives with the hiring of new Senior Culinary Director, Eli Kaimeh, and Beverage Director, Jacob Johnson. Collectively the team will work to evolve the standard of culinary excellence across TRC’s expansive 15-concept portfolio, which spans major cities in Central and South Florida as well as Atlanta, Boston, and Las Vegas. Following a year that saw 26 complete menu changes under Ferraro’s direction, the expanded team will now dive deeper into food and beverage operations to position TRC for 2023 growth, which includes a new omakase-style restaurant coming to Lake Nona.
“Since Chef Michael joined Tavistock Restaurant Collection he has exemplified great leadership, and created a new benchmark of culinary excellence for the group,” says Greg Walker, Senior Vice President, Tavistock Group. “His multi-faceted approach to food stretches beyond operations – it’s a balance of what’s on trend to keep the brand fresh, what’s operationally sustainable, and most importantly what resonates best with guest experience. I’m excited to continue the growth with this expanded team.”
Kiameh, a New York-transplant, joins TRC with an impressive resume that includes stints at Daniel Boulud’s Daniel, as well as coveted tenures as Chef de Cuisine at Keller’s Per Se and, most recently, Executive Chef at WS Wine Spectator. He brings a culinary philosophy that is rooted in being detail-oriented, consistent and approachable.
Johnson, who hails from Colorado and is certified by the Court of Master Sommeliers, will nurture the team’s guest-facing role that is synonymous with beverage. His background, which lends to equal parts wine and spirits, has come full circle with this new position. The result, an inclusive and thoughtful beverage program that reflects his passion, and celebrates best-in-class micro and macro purveyors.
In looking ahead to 2023, Ferraro, Kiameh and Johnson see the rise of inflation impacting overall operations – from ease of access to vendors to procurement of ingredients. Ferraro says, “Guests have seen the result of inflation in local markets, grocery stores and restaurants,” he continues, “we need to think outside of the box to deliver affordable ingredients in an elevated way to be able to honor our pricing without compromising on experience.”
To create a passage of sustainability, a less-can-also-be-more approach will complement abundance and grandeur at TRC. An expanded reach to artisan purveyors and introducing guests to more discoverable ingredients will be prevalent. Ferraro and Kiameh will take to the kitchen to create thoughtful preparations of simple ingredients in order to maintain the quality and impact of a dish.
As for Johnson’s beverage predictions, an equally prevalent rise in the price of wines can be seen as a result of the climate crisis. Yields dropping against their annual averages will open new dialogue for guests to learn about, and enjoy, less-known wines. Johnson says, “I still believe to this day that biodynamics and sustainable farming practices will continue to yield the highest quality ingredients.”
In addition, Johnson says that clear liquors will continue to trend while brown spirits take a back seat. He sees Tequila as ruling supreme in 2023 because it is versatile – it satisfies the gluten-free and health-minded crowd, the spirit snobs and the cocktail connoisseurs.