A reason for being

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Sunday, December 2, 2012

Fiona Patricia S. Escandor discovers how to make customers happy.

When Marco Amarone was invited by the Carlson Companies to be a chef in one of its hotel properties, he did not realize that the offer would arrive sooner than he had expected. In a week’s time, he was on board a flight to Cebu, to what he thought was going to be just a short visit.

Marco was then given the opportunity to meet the hotel’s executives and before he knew it, he officially landed the post of executive chef at the Radisson Blu Hotel Cebu. This was in June of 2011.

Today, the 36-year-old Italian chef has assumed the position of director of food and beverage, a role that encompasses overseeing all dining and food service features of the hotel.

“It’s not really a big difference,” Marco said confidently. “I have been involved in food and beverage ever since I was young. I have been exposed to preparing menus, making dishes and maintaining the service and atmosphere of a restaurant ever since I was 16. For me, the kitchen is already a natural environment.”

“Food and wine—these are a very strong part of my culture,” he added. “I grew up eating good food, and that has always been something quite natural for me.”

Marco’s stint as a chef began when he worked as an apprentice during summers at Hotel Polo in Italy. By the time he finished high school at 18, he was sent to his first overseas assignment in England, where he was chef de partie at Venezia Restaurant. Since then, he has been crossing continents as he worked his way up in his career.

Marco had been with renowned hotels and restaurants in the Bermuda Islands, the U.S.A., Portugal, Singapore, New Zealand, Japan, Thailand and Vietnam. Prior to moving to the Philippines, he was on board the luxury cruise ship, The World ResidenSea, where he was the executive sous chef.

Under Marco’s lead, some of the upcoming features that guests can look forward to at Radisson Blu are the introduction of the Chinese lauriat, as well as the new ala carte menus for Feria and the lobby, which he described as “more local-friendly.” He also said that the hotel’s pool area will be developed into a new dining outlet.

“We will be coming up with new ideas to stay ahead and remain competitive,” he added.

His vision, he said, is to inspire the local food and beverage industry to become at par with those in more cosmopolitan cities such as Tokyo and Singapore.

Managing a department of over 150 staff members, Marco distinguishes himself as a leader who is “balanced between being fair and friendly, and results-driven.” He said: “There’s a reason why I’m here. They want me to achieve something and I’m not just here for leisure.”

The goal there is to see to it that their guests leave satisfied. “I always tell my staff: when you try to find inspiration for what you do, always think of happy customers. Using that as motivation will give you an extra boost,” he said.

“It’s not just about having a good recipe either,” Marco pointed out. “It’s about having the passion and will. No chef can be a great chef if he doesn’t like what he does.”

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