Courtesy White Gull Inn
Whitefish, served with butter in Door County, tastes “very much like lobster,” according to Jewel Peterson Ouradnik, of Rowleys Bay Resort.
Even then, not everyone will want whitefish. That is why, after the boiling, the fish joins a buffet that includes a 14-foot salad bar, three soups, chili, vegetables and two hot meat entrees, such as chicken or meatballs.
“You need to be careful to please everybody within a group,” said Yann Chapin, executive chef at the Ritz-Carlton Lodge, Reynolds Plantation in Georgia.
Local themes can still be preserved. Chapin might offer freshwater shrimp — a local specialty — and pork barbecue. A New England lobster bake at the Inn at Brunswick Station in Maine might also include hamburgers, crab cakes and hot dogs.
Satisfying guest appetites isn’t the primary reason to avoid fishing the local waters for menus. Planners also worry about price. To planners based in Iowa, a lobster dinner equals dollar signs.
But in Maine, at certain times of the year, lobster is extremely affordable.
And when planners work with the chef to develop a comprehensive menu, money is saved. For example, if Cuban cuisine is a local specialty, a chef can purchase pork in large quantities and then use it in several ways, as would be done in traditional Cuban communities. Roast pork could be served for dinner; the next day, the pork could be shredded and served as Cuban sandwiches.
“Engage in an open dialogue with the culinary team, and you’ll find your dollar can go quite a long way,” said Eric Blanc of the Tampa Convention Center.