Man In Charge –

Chef Thomas Connell’s work title as VP of functions for culinary and food and beverage plays like a tongue twister, but in his unassuming, matter-of-reality way, Connell condenses it to a person sentence: “That signifies I am accountable for what you eat and consume when you’re in this article,” he states followed with a soft chuckle.

“Here” is the iconic Fontainebleau Hotel, identified for its storied heritage and glamour given that opening in 1954. Dining continues to be a big draw, with the assets serving as house to a variety of celeb chef dining establishments like Scarpetta by Scott Conant, Stripsteak by Michael Mina and award-wining eateries like Hakkasan, a person of the prime Asian dining establishments in town. Connell, 52, who promises he experienced very little to do with his job decision, overseas them all.   

“This business is the type of business enterprise that calls you, you never get in touch with it, so, I did not really decide on it, I really feel like it sort of chose me. I just have a love for foodstuff and was affected by my grandfather who beloved to prepare dinner so I just kind of followed the path,” he claims.

The path led the L.A. native to enroll in The Institute of Culinary Arts in Palm Springs, then later the illustrious Culinary Institute of America in upstate New York. A stint of position positions with inns like the Hilton and Hyatt adopted right before going on to The Ritz-Carlton Resort, exactly where he used two many years climbing the culinary ladder doing work all around the globe, including a 7-year stint in Barcelona, Spain. That sort of international exposure had a sturdy and long lasting effect on Connell as a total.

“The influence [of living abroad] has an effect on your food, I believe, but also your character because when you vacation and when you live in a different nation, you become pretty diplomatic.  You have to be open to society, to variations, history, tradition – factors like that.  And it gives you a thoroughly diverse point of view than if you ended up just born and raised in the exact place and lived in the exact society your total daily life.” 

The opening of The Ritz-Carlton on Miami’s Lincoln Road introduced Connell to the Magic Town, wherever he stayed another 7 several years right before operating at the Fontainebleau, a special possibility he could not refuse. 

“It’s a really artisan-dependent operation. The kitchens are structured like a kitchen would be designed back in the 50s, like motels back in the 50s — since, you experienced to have a bakery, you experienced to have a commissary kitchen, you had to have a saucier, you experienced to have a chocolatier. You had these aged, common brigades that existed for the reason that no professional manufacturing of food items existed,” he suggests.


Overseeing the manufacturing of all the food at the Fontainebleau is evidently no straightforward feat. With six dining establishments plus space provider for 1504 rooms and suites, most would easily be overwhelmed. But Connell, who has 1000 staff members less than his look at, ways it with a relaxed, disciplined perspective that, after 12 many years on the occupation, has clearly served in his favor.

“There’s a ton of layers of expert girls and gentlemen that are properly trained in their craft, in their particular talent and that are passionate about it. So, my amount one particular emphasis is to encourage them, to give path from the guest’s standpoint so that they recognize why we’re executing what we’re executing and why we’re pushing just about every other so intently on obtaining factors completed to the best stage.”

It is hard to pin down a normal working day for Connell, but most begin with a 2-hour run by way of the total assets, which contains “Water Environment,” the 2500-gallon salt water tanks (quickly to be upgraded to 5,000 gallons) that offer refreshing seafood for the property’s ocean-to-desk house. And when patrons might not identify him, some thing he is extra than all right with (“The name is Fontainebleau, the title is not Thomas Connell,” he attests), it is his devotion to impeccable services, exceptional delicacies and teamwork that has made the culinary plan at the hotel an irrefutable good results. 

“The genuine enthusiasm, the true enjoy for me is the outdated university of hospitality and so, to me, it’s like a substantial Bed and Breakfast, you know? Your customer and the individuals in front of you — that is your precedence,” Connell states.

There’s no shortage of inspiration, either. Connell compares his business as “a e-book that you’ll under no circumstances end reading, you will never ever end,” due to the fact there is so a lot to find out every single day.  “I don’t care how extensive you’re accomplishing this enterprise — your ft remain on the floor the whole time and you just continue to keep your eyes and ears open up due to the fact which is the only way to keep acquiring better.”

When asked what it signifies to be a optimistic male purpose design, the father of four credits his mom for the sturdy ethics he retains in equally his own and qualified daily life. 

“My mother was the most influential and strongest particular person I at any time expert in my lifetime. To be capable to see that, no matter if you’re a guy or a lady, you have a obligation to be a good human. I do emphasis on that. I emphasis on remaining truthful, I aim on being reliable, I even now to this working day – if I explain to you I’m going to do something, it’s likely to take place,” he states.

It is a code of perform that has defined him and garners the regard and trust of those he will work with — and surely anything he does not take evenly. 

 “People constantly request what’s your greatest affect as a leader and your major impact is how you can have an affect on the people today that report to you mainly because you can make their lifetime terrific, you can make their daily life miserable. Just in how you are – your demeanor, your steps: how you address them, discuss to them, look at them, really do not chat to them, really do not look at them. We have this sort of an affect on the men and women that are all over us and we owe it to them and to ourselves to be honorable to that responsibility.”

Octopus And Garlic Prawns

Serves 2

This is a dish I released to our oceanside bistro La Côte within just the to start with yr of me coming to the house mainly because I felt it exemplified the cuisine principle of La Côte and the American Riviera. It was an instant hit and has been a prime seller ever considering that and going on 10 decades now. It is a exclusive dish as well in the presentation and aesthetics that people don’t forget and appear back for. For me, I have normally lived in coastal heat climates and the Mediterranean design and style to eat has generally been a person of my beloved cooking styles and consuming variations. It is a dish that has reason to the menu and is not just a “filler.”


8 Big prawns, shells taken out

12 oz. Cooked octopus

1 Total artichoke, boiled and cleaned

2 Garlic cloves, peeled and sliced slim

10 oz. Olive oil

1⁄3 Bunch parsley, chopped

1 tsp. Smoked paprika

½ Lemon, zested

4 Slices place bread

Salt and pepper, to taste


• Assemble all components.

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

• Get rid of cooked octopus and let to interesting.

• Slice octopus tentacles in ¼-inch slices.

• Clear artichoke to the heart and slice into eighths.

• Warmth oil in a vast floor pan until finally warm but not using tobacco.

• Put garlic in the oil for about 45 seconds.

• Increase prawns and octopus.

• Flip prawns in excess of after 90 seconds, insert artichoke then eliminate the pan from the heat.

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

• Maintain all elements in the pan and serve family style with the nation bread lightly grilled.