• Q&A With Executive Chef Thomas Harkins, Making Healthy Choices

    POSTED August 14, 2019

With 47,000-plus square feet of meeting space, executive chef Thomas Harkins of Loews Philadelphia Hotel and its on-site restaurant Bank & Bourbon feed many groups throughout the year.

How have you changed catering menus over the years as guests have shifted to be more health conscious?
“Within the past few years, we have seen a large shift for our guests seeking more healthy options and wanting to eat more vegetables, grains and other superfoods; because of this, we have added more of these options on our catering menus.

“Specifically, we have added more roasted and raw versions of salads with vegetables that are not the everyday standard choices. For example, some of our most popular dishes are our roasted cauliflower salad with romesco and our charred broccoli with cured lemon and grains.

“We are also seeing our guests and clients asking where their food is coming from. Bank & Bourbon and Loews Philadelphia Hotel is proud to partner with and support the following farmers: Green Valley Dairy, Lioni Latticin, Bell & Evans. Our mission as a hotel and restaurant has always been about locality, and it is nice to see how much it is now noticed and appreciated by our guests.”

How have diet/allergy/lifestyle choice requests influenced the hotel’s overall offerings in terms of health and wellness?
“We are constantly making changes to our menu whether it be for seasonality, trends or guest feedback. We have decided to cook with less flour due to many gluten allergies and have made our plantbased offerings much more robust.”

Are there any specific ingredients/foods that clients have started to request more of?
“Vegetables. We’ve seen a lot more vegans attending our meetings and events. They are looking to us to be creative with our options and go beyond the typical grilled vegetable plate. To address these requests, our culinary team has created whole grain taco stations and roasted carrot variations; these are extremely popular with meetings and events.”

Are there other F&B trends/shifts you’re seeing?
“Plant-based diets are definitely a strong trend. As an operation, we’ve made some adjustments including using less plastic whether it be through paper straws or corn-based products as takeout containers.”

Tenure has its rewards. Ten-year employee Andrew Reh moved into the chief operating offi cer and general manager role at Shanty Creek Resorts in Bellaire last fall. He worked through the ranks as director of food and beverage, executive chef and vice president of resort services before taking over the top spot.


These interviews are part of a series that highlights new hires within the industry. Have you recently started a new role or do you know someone who has? Submit your ideas to megan.gosch@tigeroak.com

Nicole Newton was recently hired as General Manager at Semiahmoo Resort, Golf and Spa.

What are you looking forward to the most in your new role as General Manager?