The theme for Savoy Bar & Grill is California’s beautiful wine country, inspiring the stone-front building and vine-covered patio. Executive Chef Frans Dinkelmann’s philosophy fits perfectly: “I’d always been involved in the arts growing up – drawing, painting and performing music. When I started cooking, I discovered a seemingly limitless array of flavors, textures and techniques with which to be creative, and I was instantly hooked.”
Dinkelmann’s kitchen at this Albuquerque landmark restaurant is exhibition style, where he and Sous Chefs Dylan Dejonckheere and Erik Elsasser create dishes for an astonishing array of daily meals and special events: from breakfast and lunch parties to refined dinners to Happy Hour, seasonal catering menus, three- and four-course wine tastings, plus dinners showcasing wines and beers. So, Savoy Bar & Grill covers a lot of culinary ground. Dinkelmann can tell us more.
Tradition is your bedrock, yet you keep on top of trends?
FD: We pride ourselves on classic techniques and traditional styles, but we incorporate modern techniques such as cold-smoke infusion, hydrocolloid implementation and texture manipulation when opportunities
present themselves. The trick is to be subtle and use these techniques without distracting from the integrity of the dish.
How about sous vide?
FD: We use sous vide on specials and wine tastings constantly. It’s such an amazing and versatile technique, and we’re just now realizing the extent of its potential in a larger-scale restaurant.
You’ve built a nice business with
takeaway, you say.
FD: We have a large group of guests who repeatedly call us to have something made to order for pickup – a dinner with a little more care put into it than you can find most places. Another reason why it’s important – sometimes these guests are hosting others who haven’t yet been to our restaurant, and that helps us entice a wider audience with what we provide at Savoy. Shamrock Foods recently showed us in excess of 20 different carry-out containers from which to choose a line that met our needs.
Catering is key to your
business, so how do you handle
FD: Special parties and events seem to come from nowhere sometimes, with very little time to prepare for specific dietary needs or requests. Shamrock Foods has specialists who are well informed on certain products, and we can get in touch with them when we’re looking for something specific and relatively difficult to come by. They take a lot of the stress off trying to make these events happen. And the Shamrock Foods disposable catering tray and lid selection is cost effective, practical and visually appealing as well.
A wide range of choices is
important to you: What are your
go-to Shamrock Foods products?
FD: This is really difficult to answer because their catalog is so massive, and we’re constantly being introduced to new items. So our favorite go-to is the product we haven’t tried before, then experimenting with it and seeing how our guests respond. And regarding wine tastings – the wines we’re tasked to pair food with come from all over the world. Shamrock Foods has access to such an amazing spectrum of ingredients, it eliminates a lot of the challenge that comes with finding the right ones to make a dish that properly complements the wine.
A couple more thoughts on
how Shamrock Foods improves
FD: We’re entering our fifth year with Shamrock Foods this fall, and it has been a constant improvement in quality of life with each season. Amy Nordby is the best distributor rep I’ve ever worked with. Having close to two decades of restaurant experience under her belt has proven invaluable to my kitchen and our restaurant. Also, with 400 seats, our restaurant has a lot of nooks and crannies, and the high volume of traffic we get in every inch of our building makes it a daily challenge to stay on top of cleanliness. Luckily we have a committed cleaning crew, and Shamrock Foods has everything they need for any specific job.
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