Editorial Board   Guest Author

Mr. Raz

Jonathan M. Raz

Director of Food & Beverage, Waldorf Astoria Orlando

With nearly 20 years of experience in food and banquet operations, Jonathan M. Raz brings a passion for innovative cuisine to his position as director of food and beverage at Waldorf Astoria Orlando and Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek. Mr. Raz manages the F&B operations of the hotel complex, including 12 dining outlets, in-room dining service for 1,500 guest rooms and an extensive banquet facility. Offering over eight years of experience as director of food and beverage under the Hilton umbrella, Mr. Raz plays a pivotal role in the property's renowned culinary program, where he works with more than 150 chefs to develop delectable dining experiences and creative group catering menus that continue to earn top honors in food and beverage excellence. Mr. Raz's greatest joy comes from developing original restaurant and bar concepts that provide guests with a customized dining experience. A natural leader, Mr. Raz relishes mentoring and collaborating with his culinary team, helping them hone their skills and push creative boundaries. Exposed to the food operations business at an early age by his father, a food and beverage director himself, Mr. Raz constantly challenges his chefs to develop new approaches to their cooking with a focus on creating ahead-of-the-trend menus that still evoke the comforts of classic dishes. While the majority of his day is spent in operations, Mr. Raz makes time to interact with guests and strives to provide an unforgettable dining experience for every visitor who sets foot in his restaurants. Mr. Raz began his career as the banquet manager at DoubleTree Guest Suites in New York City, working his way up to assistant director of banquets and events at the Waldorf Astoria New York, where he oversaw the operation of presidential dinners and exclusive galas. He continued his career with Hilton as assistant director of food and beverage at Hilton Americas and as director of food and beverage at Hilton Baltimore before his most recent position as director of food and beverage at Hilton Orlando, overseeing all kitchen operations, budgeting and restaurant concepts. Mr. Raz made a name for himself as a culinary leader when he helped open Hilton Baltimore, recruiting all leadership positions and directly supervising the executive chef, director of catering, director of banquet operations and assistant director of food and beverage. An avid cook, Mr. Raz brings his culinary expertise home with him, where he enjoys spending quality time with his wife and three children, dining out and finding time for an occasional round of golf.

Please visit http://www.hilton.com for more information.

Mr. Raz can be contacted at 407-597-5500 or jonathan.raz@hilton.com

Coming up in August 2020...

Food & Beverage: New Technological Innovations

In the past few years, hotel food and beverage departments have experienced significant growth. Managers are realizing just how much revenue potential this sector holds, both in terms of additional revenue and as a means to enhance the guest experience. As a result, substantial investments are being made in F&B operations as a way to satisfy hotel guests but also to keep pace with the competition. Though it has been a trend for many years, the Farm-to-Table movement shows no signs of abating. Hotel chains are abandoning corporate restaurants and are instead partnering with local chefs to create locally-influenced dining options. Local, farm-sourced ingredients paired with specialty beverages or local wine also satisfies the increasing demand from Millennial travelers who are eager to travel sustainably and contribute to a positive impact. A farm-to-table F&B program also helps to support the local economy, which builds community goodwill. Also popular are "Self-Serv" and "Grab & Go" options. These concepts stem from an awareness that a guest's time is limited and if a hotel can supply them with fast, fresh, food and beverage choices, then so much the better for them. Plus, by placing these specialty kiosks in areas that might be traditionally under-utilized (the lobby, for instance), they can become popular destination locations. Of course, there are new technological innovations as well. In-room, on-screen menus allow guests to order from any restaurant on the property, and some hotels are partnering with delivery companies that make it possible for guests to order food from any restaurant in the area. Also, many hotels are implementing in-room, voice-activated devices, so ordering food via an AI-powered assistant will soon become mainstream as well. The August issue of the Hotel Business Review will report on these developments and document what some leading hotels are doing to expand this area of their business.