October 9, 2013

Natural Foodie: A menu shift at Linekin Bay Resort

Its clientele’s rising dietary awareness resonates with the resort.

By AVERY YALE KAMILA

(Continued from page 1)

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Staff members at the Linekin Bay Resort line up behind the buffet, which was expanded this year to include vegan and gluten-free items.

Contributed photo

click image to enlarge

To accommodate an increasing number of special diets, Linekin Bay Resort no longer plates salads and instead allows guests to build their own.

Contributed photo

“It gave people a lot more options,” Osborn said.

In addition to satisfying the diverse dining needs of guests, the resort found an added benefit from this more flexible food service: It cut down on food waste.

“During lunch and dinner service hardly anything gets thrown away,” Osborn said, noting the change from previous seasons when multiple trash cans would fill with food waste after each meal. “If they don’t like asparagus, they’re not going to take it.”

Richmond and her family, which includes a physician son and two young grandchildren, appreciated the ability to choose what went on their plates, instead of ordering an entrée that came with a standard set of sides.

“I loved that I could select very healthy food,” said Richmond, who lives in Cleveland, Ohio, and always stays in cabin 7 at the resort for a week or two each summer. “I felt wonderful after every meal, instead of feeling like I wish I hadn’t eaten that baked potato. I never felt as if I was on a diet, but I could select those things that I wanted to eat. Things with more fat and calories, I could have smaller portions of those.”

Before implementing the move to buffet service, Osborn and his team worried this change might increase the resort’s costs. Under the previous system, pricey items – such as crab and lobster cakes – were limited to one per plate. Now guests could take as many as they wanted.

“What we’ve found is our food costs as a percentage of sales is about the same,” Osborn said.

While some did take more of the expensive items, others didn’t take them at all or choose smaller portions.

“We’re spending the same money on food, but it’s really a better value because the guests are eating it and no one is leaving hungry,” Osborn said. “If they went up and tried the salmon and didn’t like it, they could get something else.”

The trend toward plant-based menu items and dishes that work for special diets is a reflection of the evolving food preferences of travelers and is mirrored in the glitzy world of luxury hotels.

High-profile hotels with vegan menus include all the properties in the Fairmont hotel chain (such as The Plaza in New York and the Fairmont Copley Plaza in Boston), the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills and all the restaurants at the Wynn hotel in Las Vegas, which is owned by casino mogul and vegan Steve Wynn.

According to a story published last year in Bon Appetit, the vegan menus at the Wynn inspired the chefs at “nearly every major hotel restaurant on the Strip” to offer vegan menus, making Sin City a rather unexpected vegan oasis.

Back in Maine, Osborn said a number of factors seem to be driving the changing food needs of the resort’s guests.

“People are becoming more educated about food,” Osborn said. “It’s a greater awareness, and a lot of it is people wanting to eat healthier. I’ve had conversations with guests who are not only eating for health reasons but also for environmental reasons. People are really becoming more worldly in knowing they can vote with their forks.”

 Avery Yale Kamila is a freelancer who lives in Portland and always seeks out plant-based eats when she travels. She can be reached at:

avery.kamila@gmail.com

Twitter: AveryYaleKamila

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