Holiday Hotel Dining: Hotel EMC2's Rebecca Royster on Modernized Nostalgia
As director of F&B at Chicago's Hotel EMC2, Rebecca Royster, former GM at Maude’s Liquor Bar, has created a new concept for F&B at the property with a focus on the integration of art and science. Her approach has seen the introduction of creative mocktails and shooters served in scientific tubes, along with a food menu boasting local and seasonal ingredients with an emphasis on quality and refined taste.
Royster is branching out during the holidays with some on-trend F&B offerings.
“It’s that time of the year when we’re looking for nostalgia,” she says. “You want flavors and composition that remind you of old friends and family.” That means modern interpretations of family-style things.
“On the beverage menu, I look for ways to incorporate all flavor profiles for all palates,” Royster says. “I like to pull out those baking spice qualities. We just put an apple cider on the menu, spiked with a salted caramel that we made for an apple tart dessert here. It gives it more body. And then we make it more savory with a little cracked black pepper and salt. It’s reminiscent of your childhood apple cider but with more maturity. And we can put bourbon in there, to make it an adult drink.”
On the wine list, Royster pulls in classic traditions, such as gamay and beaujolais pairings. She says beverage and food this time of years benefit by highlighting fruit flavors such as cranberry, currant, and prune.
As for the food, Royster defers to family, communal dining, including tasting menus.
“We’re doing a pre fixe menu but with the approach of a Saturday afternoon supper,” says Royster. “Large-format, family-style dining but in a preset format.” It’s three courses, including dessert, with optional beverage parings. “It keeps that organic, communal, conversational environment in the dining room, but refined and elegant.”