Chef Nick Mastrascusa weighs in.
Staff meal food costs:
Cafeteria is complimentary for the entire Four Seasons Resort Hualalai team.
Size of staff meal:
800 people on staff, including cooks from four restaurants and hotel employees.
Time of staff meal:
The cafeteria is open between 11am and 7pm; the cooks usually go before their shift or in between lunch and dinner if it’s slow, between 2pm and 4pm.
Worst staff meal:
It was at Giacosa in Florida; we ate escarole with anchovies and garlic every single day, six times a week.
Favorite staff meal ever:
It was very unique: french fries, romaine lettuce, and cheese sauce. Basically cheese fries with lettuce. It was pretty good, and made by a chef at the Four Seasons in New York.
Like most hotels, the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai in Hawaii offers its 800-member team a full complimentary cafeteria, with ethnic favorites like Hawaiian poke and pad Thai. But when it comes to hunger pangs during the craze of service, the cooks at the resort’s Beach Tree restaurant like to make quick, creative snacks—burgers and wood-grilled pizzas—with leftover prep. Sometimes their off-the-cuff grub is so popular that the dishes end up on the menu.
Chef Nick Mastrascusa’s lunch time menu at Beach Tree includes California favorites, while the dinner inspiration comes straight from his Italian roots. The range of the menu leaves the staff plenty of delicious ingredients to play with when they have a minute to breathe (and munch)—from taco fillings to pasta and pizza mise en place. The key for satisfying the line without slowing them down is food that’s easy to make and easy to eat. “It’s anything you can make that you can eat with your hands and you can eat while you are standing up,” says Mastrascusa.
Wild Boar and Sausage Pizza started out as a crew snack in summer 2011. The inspiration? Using as many ingredients from the menu items as possible: caramelized shallots from a short rib ragout, braised wild boar from a calzone, and pepperoncini from a burger. What started as a cure for chef munchies turned into one of the restaurant’s more popular items.
It doesn’t hurt that the pizza features wild boar, Hawaii’s version of Kobe beef. As Mastrascusa explains it, the economic crash led to a surplus in macadamia nuts, as farmer’s could no longer afford to pick them (the low-bearing plants are particularly laborious when it comes to harvesting), which means easy access to a rich diet for the boars. “What that does for the quality of the meat is amazing,” says Mastrascusa. “They don’t have to work too hard for the food because there is so much of it, so they don’t develop too much intramuscular fat. The meat is tender, flavorful, and delicious.”
Chowing down on rich boar meat-topped pizza sounds like a serious perk for staff, but a discovering a stellar menu seller—and letting your cooks' creativity run wild—may just be one better.