Hotel Vix
1144 Ocean Drive
Miami Beach, Florida 33139
305 428 1234

200 N Columbus Drive
Chicago, IL 60601
312 444 9494








Global Hotel Dining:
Pack Your Portmanteau and Go Get Eat'ertertained
by Tejal Rao
May 2007

Imagine a hotel fine dining room. No, a modern hotel dining room: soaring ceilings, clean lines, high-concept design. In front of you there’s a bowl of Pad Thai, hot from a well-seasoned wok, made with dried shrimp, tamarind concentrate, pickled turnips – the works. Across the table there’s a plate of assorted South Indian street food on a stainless steel thali. Next to that there’s a plate of precisely cut sashimi on an elevated wooden plank. What country are you in? What city?

Like riding in Disney’s terrifying It’s a Small World boat, global dining offers it all in one go, without the hassle of travel or the obstacle of language. Assuming that authenticity matters in the first place, how much of the experience is truly preserved when it’s imported and presented without context? Is cosmopolitanism in the dining room in fact suburbanizing foreign food culture? Pad Thai, Poppadums and a Mediterranean platter could make the modern diner anxious. Who is this chef?

At first glance the concept seems to be the antithesis of chef-driven restaurants where the chef’s personal story is told through a progression of dishes. But what about when the chef’s story is global? For James Wierzelewski, who cooked all over the world (Malaysia, Micronesia, Thailand, France and Belgium), presenting a multiplicity of culinary identities makes perfect sense. Global dining is his personal story. While fusion seeks to incorporate ingredients and technique into the local cuisine, global attempts to bring the foreign dish to the local culture intact, in its original form. Wierzelewski first developed the concept at Aria, in Chicago’s Fairmont Hotel.

Since his departure, Noah Bekofsky has taken over, personalized the global idea, and created a menu of international comfort food: “Masaman style” braised shanks, Pho consommé, bi bim bop, and risotto. The restaurant’s motto “culturally inspired, comfortably American,” oversimplifies Bekofsky’s driving philosophy: there are basic elements (both ingredients and techniques) binding comfort foods from one end of the world to the other.

Pho Consomme at Aria in The Fairmont, Chicago
Pho Consomme by Noah Bekofsky of Aria in The Fairmont - Chicago, IL

More recently Wierzelewski consulted on another global concept at Vix, in The Hotel Victor in Miami, which he portmanteaus eat’ertainment. His concept is so well-thought out it has a manifesto: “Eat’ertainment, Points of Differentiation.” The first point echoes the title: dining out isn’t just about the food. Dining out is about entertainment, which comes in many forms, like the design of the menu and space, or the music. Plateware is so important that plates are often sourced first and then a dish is built around it. Authenticity is just one (actually, it’s number 4) of the points. Vix’s kitchen team is international, with chefs from France, Pakistan, and the Philippines. Number 5: Flavor Palettes.

In accordance with the “palette theory,” Wierzelewski’s menu is divided into 4 sections: The Mediterranean, Asia, India and the Middle East, and Latin America. Guests order from one of any palette for dishes that are authentic to that region, or at least minimally manipulated from their classic form and presented with a bit of flair. With growing consumer demand for entertainment with their dinner, the trend towards global dining is a natural development. Traveling families are happy because their children are free to order what they want. Solo travelers can sit at an open kitchen and watch a show. But as with any experience being sold as authentic, there’s more at stake when it fails. Hotels considering the food mall concept should keep in mind that not all its satellites can be as well-executed as Vix, and when the concepts fails, it’s as fun as Disney's audio-animatronics boat ride.