IHG is taking food seriously, very seriously, and the gal expects to see big improvements, at all levels. In its luxury InterContinental brand, there are already several Michelin-starred restaurants, including Theo Randall’s Theo at InterContinental London Park Lane. Theo Randall is also overseeing Theo’s Simple Italian, which has been trialling really successfully at Indigo London Kensington. Another new concept, similarly trialled to phenomenal acclaim at Holiday Inn Brighton Seafront, is Stock Burger: this comes with choice of four fillings and TripAdvisor reviews often say these are the best burgers in Brighton, which really means something in this foodie and avant-garde English town. Here at the IHG European Conference 2017 in Berlin, food from both these fun-eating ideas were served at the dine-around lunches each day.
Monday night, there was a dine-around in the entire ground floor of InterContinental Berlin, the host hotel. RIght in the middle of the lobby an oyster bar was set up and dozens of servers were alertly going round with trays of easy-eat foods, while colleagues carried trays to cart away empty dishes – and glasses, because, as with any hospitality gathering worth its culinary salt, there was plenty of good wine, and beer. It was all so carefully thought out. Wednesday night, the hotel would be catering the final gala, a seated meal in the ballroom. For variety, and to give the hotel staff a break, Tuesday night was dining off-site, at the Bolle Festsaal. What a fascinating venue, named for Carl Bolle, a milk supplier who in the early 1880s had up to 60 bolle-wagon horse-drawn coaches selling fresh milk to locals.
In 1886 he bought this site, the former Schumann porcelain factory, and he set up a school for his employees’ children. He also established two chapels, first one that seated 650 and then one for 1,600 persons – there was also a lending library, and a cinema. Somehow it was such a suitable venue for a dinner for this heritage-rich hotel company: IHG’s luxury brand, InterContinental Hotels & Resorts, can be traced back to The Grande Hotel, Belem, which operated as InterContinental from 1949 to 1966, although many would say the first was the Tequendama in Bogota, which had been signed December 1948. Anyway, tonight, Tuesday, halfway through this brilliant IHG Europe Conference 2017, 599 of the 600 delegates had an absolute culinary feast, enlivened with wines and freeflow Laurent-Perrier, here at Bolle Festsaal.
Under the direction of IHG’s Europe Mr Food, Simon Burdess, ten proper working kitchens, each with three cooks working to support the big name, produced superb food for all. In alphabetical order the lead chefs were Laurent André, Café de la Paix, InterContinental Paris Le Grand; Dean Crews, 1269 Restaurant, Crowne Plaza Gerrards Cross – see, above, his English country garden pot with goats cheese mousse, sourdough soil, pickled carrot, asparagus and onion, nasturtium leaves and wild garlic; Erhard Lange, Hugo’s, InterContinental Berlin; Lionel Lévy, Alcyone, InterContinental Marseille; Karol Okrasa, Platter, InterContinental Warszawa; Gilad Peled, Le Pressoir d’Argent Gordon Ramsay, InterContinental Bordeaux; Theo Randall at the InterContinental, InterContinental London Park Lane; Roger Rassin, Restaurant La Rive, InterContinental Amstel Amsterdam; Alfredo Russo, Dolce Stil Novo, InterContinental Ljubljana. The tenth kitchen was headed by the marvellous Mexican culinarian Martha Ortiz, who opens the second restaurant at the luxury InterContinental London Park Lane hotel, Ella Canta, this summer. No wonder that IHG CEO Europe, Angela Brav, who hosted this significant IHG Europe Conference 2017, said the united mass of IHG is moving in the right direction, and it will be unstoppable. NOW SEE A VIDEO OF TUESDAY NIGHT, BELOW