HMSHost

O’Hare Airport cook-off crowns 2019 winner

On Tuesday morning Terminal 2 at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport began to smell.

But in a good way.

The source of the smell: aromas from the fifth annual Channel Your Inner Chef  culinary competition hosted by airport restaurateur HMSHost and the Chicago Department of Aviation. 

During the 30-minute in-terminal cook-off four finalists from across the country created an original recipe using any of the ingredients available to them from a shared pantry revealed at the start of the event.

At least one of the ingredients had to be something picked that day from O’Hare’s hydroponic Urban Garden.

The contest took place in front of an audience of invited guests and travelers on their way to or from their flights.

Each contestant had a cooking station to work at that included a knife tied to the table, a reminder that the event was taking place on the secure side of the terminal.

I was in the audience for this year’s competition and was pleased to see winners from past years (all women) paired up as mentors to this year’s contestant chefs and on stage to help out during the first few minutes of the contest.

Then each finalist went to work on their own, whipping up dishes that included a pasta, a unique take on shrimp and grits and a Brie Schnitzel.

A panel of local judges evaluated the contestants on their recipe, presentation, showmanship and, of course, the taste of their dish and crowned Greeley, Colorado resident DeAndre Smith as the winner.

His winning dish: a pan-seared chicken breast with a brown sugar glaze accompanied by pickled rainbow carrots with Fresno peppers, fresh lemongrass, ginger and rice wine vinegar, along with a yam purée with cumin and almonds and flash fried kale.

“I thought about what my dish would be before I came to the contest and was just hoping the ingredients I needed would be here,” Smith told me, “I had to make a few adjustments, but it worked out.”

Smith’s prize is roundtrip airfare for two, as well as a VIP experience for two to the James Beard Awards Gala in Chicago.

Even better: Smith’s dish will soon be featured on the menu of an HMSHost-operated restaurant at O’Hare.

How to enter the cooking contest at O’Hare Airport

The “Channel Your Inner Chef” culinary competition is back for another year at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport.

The HMSHost-sponsored competition gives amateur cooks, culinary students and anyone with a great recipe a chance to show off their favorite dishes and win some great prizes – including having their recipe featured at a restaurant at O’Hare Airport.

To enter: make a two-minute video of yourself preparing your favorite recipe, then upload your video by February 20, 2018 at ChannelYourInnerChef.com.

Five finalists will be selected based on the recipe, presentation, form, and showmanship.

Those finalists will win a trip to Chicago to compete in a live cooking showdown in front of an audience and a panel of judges at O’Hare Terminal 2 on March 20, 2018.

During the timed cook-off finalists will be asked to create an original recipe with ingredients revealed at the event and the winning dish will be featured on the menu of an HMSHost-operated restaurant at O’Hare.

The grand prize winner will also receive two roundtrip airline tickets for a flight within the continental U.S. and a VIP trip for two to attend the James Beard Awards Gala on May 7, 2018 at Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Deadline to enter is February 20, 2018. Full details at ChannelYourInnerChef.com.

 

More robots at an airport near you

Travelers will be running into robots at more airports as HMSHost adds Pepper, the humanoid robot, to the staff of more of its restaurants.

Her job: to give menu informaton and recommendations and generally entertain – or alarm – guests.

You may have encountered Pepper at her first assignment: the Pyramid Ale Taproom in Oakland International Airport. Now Pepper clones are also working hard at Avenue des Canadiens in Montréal–Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (where Pepper understands French or English),   the Washington Redskins Burgundy & Gold Club in Washington Dulles International Airport and at Point the Way Café in Los Angeles International Airport.

According to HMSHost, Pepper customizes her features for each airport so her interactions with travelers vary from location to location. In some airports she not only offers restaurant help, she helps travelers with directions to things at the airport, such as gates and the nearest restrooms.

If yu run into Pepper, let us know what the expereience is like. Cool or creepy?

Travel Tidbits: Switchfoot at SAN and more.

Image courtesy SAN & Pablo Mason

This morning, (Monday, June 19) alternative rock band Switchfoot will show up at San Diego International Airport to perform an acoustic set and play with two area youth music groups.  The event will also promote a new exhibition in the airport about BRO-AM, Switchfoot’s  free annual music and surf festival held in Encinitas to benefit area youth causes.

 

Not that many airports have classic barbershops on site anymore, so it’s quite impressive to learn that Nick Palomares has been operating his barbershop at Fresno Yosemite International Airport for 45 years.

“Mr. Palomares’ milestone anniversary is truly a testament of his professionalism and gracious personality that resonates with his clients, passengers and guests,” said Director of Aviation Kevin Meikle in a statement marking the milestone and reminding travelers – even those that don’t need haircuts – to swing by the shop to check out walls of the barbershop, which are filled with photos of celebrities that have passed through the airport.

 

And when you’re spending money at airports and on airplane tickets around the world, keep in mind that pretty much every one of those companies has a foundation that supports non-profits in many communities.

For example, HMS Host, which operates food and beverage venues at more than 120 airports worldwide, has the HMSHost Foundation, which last week gave a $20,000 grant to Grace-Mar Services in support of the group’s work to provide financial literacy, job readiness and other services in Charlotte, North Carolina, where the groups have also worked together on job placements at Charlotte Douglas International Airport.

Pirate ship at Tampa Int’l Airport

TAMPA PIRATE

Pirate season will soon be upon us – with Talk Like a Pirate Day on September 19 and the Pirates of the High Seas Fest scheduled for Panama City Beach, Florida October 7-9.

Now pirates and pirate fans will feel welcome year-round at Tampa International Airport (Airside F), where HMSHost recently opened the Gasparilla Bar, a single-masted wooden pirate ship-shaped restaurant.

On the menu: pirate’s roast beef sandwich, Black Beard bean salad and “Gaspar’s grogs” with Captain Morgan Rum-based cocktails.