Q&A:Thierry Meissonnier, Hilton Orlando

Published on
October 6, 2009

Executive Chef Thierry Meissonnier leads a 65-member culinary team at the 1,400-room Hilton Orlando, which opened in September near the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla. Meissonnier, who began his career at the Beau Rivage hotel in Paris, oversees Hilton Orlando’s seven dining options, including Spencer’s, a casual contemporary restaurant featuring steaks and chops. Other dining options include: The Bistro, a casual dining restaurant serving Hilton’s “Eat Right” menu and David’s Club Bar & Grill.

Blank: One of your overreaching philosophies is sourcing local food. How does this apply to seafood?

Meissonnier: Before the opening we researched local seafood. We spoke with local fisheries and did some testing with them. We went mostly to the south of Florida for our local products when we created our menus. Around 90 percent of all the fish is local, including snapper, pompano and cobia.

Blank: Which seafood items are from Florida?

Meissonnier: We are using a lot of rock shrimp from south Florida. We created a local Florida snapper with leeksfrom the small farms around the city. We use black grouper a lot in banquets, and people love it. Our suppliers include Barnacle Seafood (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) and Gary’s Seafood Specialties (Orlando, Fla.), which are buying from local suppliers.

Blank: Which other seafood sourcing philosophies are important to you and to Hilton?

Meissonnier: It is very important for Hilton to get fresh fish. We really try to use fresh products, with some seasoning and olive oil, then the fish speaks for itself. We are working as well with organic fish: we sell an Irish organic salmon.

Blank: What are some of the seafood appetizers and entrées the hotel offers, and some price points?

Meissonnier: In Spencer’s, our daily fish is USD 27. We also do a shrimp and crab cake appetizer that is USD 15. We do a lot of sandwiches for lunch, including a mahimahi sandwich with chipotle mayonnaise, and people love it. We do a lot of salad entrées with fish. In Florida, you don’t want to eat heavy, because it is so hot.

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