A few weeks ago the James Beard Foundation released their list of Semifinalists for the 2015 Restaurant and Chef Award categories, honoring the best chefs, bakers and restaurants across the country. We asked the team — Susan Ungaro, President of the James Beard Foundation, and Phil Vettel, a member of the foundation — for the story behind the list. Read on for their insights on the selection process and industry trends, and look out for their announcement of the final nominees on March 24th.
At sbe, the global hospitality and entertainment company known for top-tier restaurants like Katsuya and The Bazaar by Jose Andres, restaurants are just one piece of a business that also includes hotels, casinos, and nightclubs. John Kolaski is the Chief Operating Officer of sbe’s restaurant division, which means he’s constantly working with the other divisions to explore how dining fits into the larger experience of entertainment.
“People are not just going out to eat because they’re hungry,” he says. Instead, they’re going out for an experience — and sbe has the advantage of being able to own that experience from start to finish, from checking into the hotel to ending the night at a club.
Here, we ask John all about the changing role of restaurants into brands, and how dining has evolved into a form of entertainment on par with a night at the theater.