In addition to his culinary skills, he’s also involved on the culinary intern recruitment team for Boyne’s Michigan resorts and is an advisory board member for Boyne City High School’s hospitality program.
Jeff Minkwic: Some of the most common challenges have been steering them in the right direction to ensure the best possible experience for their clients. Often, what appears to be a perfect fit for a group isn’t always the right fi t. A lot depends on size of group, menu type (buffet, hors d’oeuvres, or a plated event), and what is available in their budgets. We like to focus on what we know best, like the catering guide, but also work to accommodate their needs.
MM: When it comes to working with tight budgets, what are some of your best tips and solutions to still create an exceptional culinary experience for guests?
JM: I think that knowing the trends of the business, including the less expensive trends and products. For example, different cuts of beef, pork, and fish can be accommodated tastefully to stay within budgets. It is often forgotten that just like in your neighborhood grocery store, the market can change at a pretty quick rate, so we need to stay on top of some of the more popular items and be able to offer tasteful alternatives.
MM: In a world where gluten-free, vegan, and other dietary needs dominate, how have you handled menu planning?
JM: We tend to change most of our menus bi-annually. When we write our full-service dining menus, we train our staff on what is available to meet these needs. If the service staff does not know or is in question, our culinary staff is rather well versed in these areas. When it comes to meeting planning, our Catering Services Team guides clients to the appropriate needs of the guest, and provides the chefs with detailed dietary needs worksheets to be used for an event. My offi ce line is always open for questions about such needs that I handle on an individual basis as well.
MM: What advice would you give to meeting professionals when it comes to creating the best food and beverage components for their participants?
JM: Rely on the team or professionals like our Catering Services Team to help you make your client’s experience the best. I know I rely on them because they are the source of knowledge for meeting professionals. It’s not always the best practice to “recreate the
wheel” and try to go too far out of the box.
MM: What’s the most memorable menu or event that you’ve been a part of?
JM: I think it has to be a debutant ball for about 700 people that I did earlier in my career at the Driskill Hotel in Austin, TX. It took about six months of planning and included full table sprays of appetizers and hors d’oeuvres including lobster medallions, lamb lollipops, grilled shrimp cocktail, assorted charcuterie, exotic fruits and grilled marinated vegetables, scallops, and a wide variety of other items. We had multiple ice carvings and later that same evening at 2:00 am, we served a full breakfast buffet for them. I think the reason why I remember it so well, was because the Executive Chef terminated his position unexpectedly a couple weeks before the event. I was the Sous Chef and now interim Executive Chef with a very small team. To accomplish this, two other chefs and I worked 36 hours straight to make it all happen, ice carvings and all. Best of all, it all went without a hitch.
Chef Minkwic's Favorite Menus
Favorite menu if budget isn’t an issue: Progressive Dinner Stations
Farm Market Fresh Baby Greens • Marinated Vine Ripened Tomatoes, and Cucumbers • Char-Grilled Asparagus, Artichoke Hearts, and Maui Onions • Imported Cheeses and Olives • Parmesan Crisps • Assorted Vinaigrettes • Mediterranean Couscous Salad • Tabbouleh
Wild Mushroom Ravioli • Bucatini Pasta • Three Cheese Tortellini with Vodka Sauce • Sun-Dried Tomato Cream Sauce • Pesto Cream Sauce • Bolognaise Sauce • Italian Sausage and Grilled Chicken • Assorted Fresh Vegetables • Anchovies
Prime Rib • Roast Chicken Breast • Coconut-Curry Sauce • Miso-Ginger Soy Sauce • Ahi Tuna • Citrus Chili Sambal • Cilantro-Scallion Pesto • Smoked Peppers and Onions • Spinach and Wild Leek Ragout • Steamed Jasmine Rice
Flambé Dessert Station
Cherries Jubilee and Bananas Foster with Vanilla Ice Cream
Favorite menu on a budget: Great Lakes Luncheon
Garden Tossed Salad with Cherry Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Shredded Cheese, Croutons, and Assorted Dressings
Luncheon Rolls with Butter, Pasta Salad, and Marinated Cucumber-Tomato Salad
Chicken Marsala with Crimini Mushrooms and Trottole Pasta Parmesan or Potato Encrusted Great Lakes Whitefish with Lemon-Caper Buerre Blanc
Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes
Seasonal Vegetable and Chef’s Selection of Assorted Desserts