Man In Charge –

Chef Thomas Connell’s position title as VP of functions for culinary and food stuff and beverage plays like a tongue twister, but in his unassuming, issue-of-truth way, Connell condenses it to one sentence: “That indicates I am liable for what you eat and consume when you’re in this article,” he claims adopted with a gentle chuckle.

“Here” is the iconic Fontainebleau Lodge, recognised for its storied background and glamour considering that opening in 1954. Eating carries on to be a important attract, with the home serving as property to a choice of celeb chef dining establishments like Scarpetta by Scott Conant, Stripsteak by Michael Mina and award-wining eateries like Hakkasan, one particular of the best Asian dining establishments in town. Connell, 52, who promises he had very little to do with his career choice, abroad them all.   

“This enterprise is the kind of enterprise that calls you, you really don’t connect with it, so, I didn’t actually decide on it, I really feel like it kind of chose me. I just have a enjoy for food and was affected by my grandfather who beloved to cook dinner so I just sort of followed the route,” he claims.

The path led the L.A. indigenous to enroll in The Institute of Culinary Arts in Palm Springs, then later on the illustrious Culinary Institute of The usa in upstate New York. A stint of work positions with inns like the Hilton and Hyatt followed before transferring on to The Ritz-Carlton Lodge, exactly where he spent two many years climbing the culinary ladder doing work all more than the earth, including a 7-calendar year stint in Barcelona, Spain. That variety of world publicity had a powerful and lasting impression on Connell as a full.

“The affect [of living abroad] influences your foodstuff, I assume, but also your character since when you vacation and when you stay in one more state, you develop into quite diplomatic.  You have to be open up to society, to types, history, custom – issues like that.  And it provides you a fully distinct standpoint than if you have been just born and raised in the exact country and lived in the same culture your complete lifestyle.” 

The opening of The Ritz-Carlton on Miami’s Lincoln Street introduced Connell to the Magic Metropolis, where by he stayed yet another seven a long time before operating at the Fontainebleau, a special opportunity he could not refuse. 

“It’s a definitely artisan-centered operation. The kitchens are structured like a kitchen would be built again in the 50s, like resorts again in the 50s — for the reason that, you had to have a bakery, you experienced to have a commissary kitchen area, you experienced to have a saucier, you had to have a chocolatier. You experienced these previous, conventional brigades that existed because no professional generation of food stuff existed,” he suggests.


Overseeing the output of all the meals at the Fontainebleau is clearly no effortless feat. With 6 dining places plus space services for 1504 rooms and suites, most would very easily be overwhelmed. But Connell, who has 1000 workers less than his view, approaches it with a calm, disciplined mindset that, soon after 12 years on the career, has plainly served in his favor.

“There’s a large amount of levels of specialist ladies and gentlemen that are experienced in their craft, in their certain expertise and that are passionate about it. So, my amount a single emphasis is to inspire them, to give way from the guest’s point of view so that they comprehend why we’re doing what we’re undertaking and why we’re pushing every other so intently on receiving items performed to the best amount.”

It’s really hard to pin down a standard day for Connell, but most start with a 2-hour operate via the total home, which contains “Water Environment,” the 2500-gallon salt h2o tanks (before long to be upgraded to 5,000 gallons) that present fresh seafood for the property’s ocean-to-table home. And when patrons might not identify him, one thing he is a lot more than okay with (“The name is Fontainebleau, the title is not Thomas Connell,” he attests), it’s his determination to impeccable service, excellent cuisine and teamwork that has built the culinary program at the lodge an irrefutable results. 

“The actual passion, the true enjoy for me is the previous college of hospitality and so, to me, it’s like a enormous Bed and Breakfast, you know? Your customer and the men and women in entrance of you — that is your priority,” Connell states.

There is no shortage of inspiration, possibly. Connell compares his industry as “a reserve that you’ll under no circumstances cease examining, you are going to in no way finish,” since there is so much to understand every day.  “I do not treatment how long you’re undertaking this organization — your ft keep on the ground the total time and you just keep your eyes and ears open up mainly because that’s the only way to maintain having superior.”

When requested what it suggests to be a beneficial male purpose product, the father of four credits his mom for the potent ethics he retains in equally his personal and expert lifetime. 

“My mom was the most influential and strongest human being I ever seasoned in my lifetime. To be equipped to see that, whether you’re a person or a lady, you have a obligation to be a excellent human. I do focus on that. I concentrate on currently being trustworthy, I focus on becoming trustworthy, I nevertheless to this day – if I explain to you I’m heading to do something, it is likely to materialize,” he says.

It’s a code of carry out that has defined him and garners the regard and belief of people he performs with — and certainly some thing he does not just take flippantly. 

 “People always question what is your biggest effect as a leader and your most important impact is how you can impact the people today that report to you for the reason that you can make their lifetime fantastic, you can make their existence depressing. Just in how you are – your demeanor, your actions: how you handle them, speak to them, glimpse at them, really do not chat to them, really don’t search at them. We have such an impact on the men and women that are all-around us and we owe it to them and to ourselves to be honorable to that obligation.”

Octopus And Garlic Prawns

Serves 2

This is a dish I introduced to our oceanside bistro La Côte inside of the initial calendar year of me coming to the residence simply because I felt it exemplified the cuisine idea of La Côte and the American Riviera. It was an immediate hit and has been a top rated seller at any time given that and likely on 10 several years now. It is a unique dish as very well in the presentation and aesthetics that men and women remember and come back for. For me, I have always lived in coastal heat climates and the Mediterranean design and style to take in has constantly been a person of my preferred cooking variations and eating styles. It is a dish that has reason to the menu and is not just a “filler.”


8 Big prawns, shells taken off

12 oz. Cooked octopus

1 Total artichoke, boiled and cleaned

2 Garlic cloves, peeled and sliced skinny

10 oz. Olive oil

1⁄3 Bunch parsley, chopped

1 tsp. Smoked paprika

½ Lemon, zested

4 Slices country bread

Salt and pepper, to style


• Assemble all ingredients.

• Dip octopus in boiling seasoned water then reduce heat and simmer for 40 minutes.

• Eliminate cooked octopus and make it possible for to neat.

• Slice octopus tentacles in ¼-inch slices.

• Clear artichoke to the heart and slice into eighths.

• Heat oil in a huge surface area pan until finally warm but not smoking cigarettes.

• Place garlic in the oil for about 45 seconds.

• Add prawns and octopus.

• Convert prawns about immediately after 90 seconds, include artichoke then take away the pan from the heat.

• Include paprika, chopped parsley, lemon zest and salt and pepper.

• Maintain all substances in the pan and provide family style with the nation bread flippantly grilled.

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