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Food + Drink

Our Dream Hotel-Chef Collaborations

Food has long been a star of the hotel experience, from medieval rooming houses to today’s cirque de celeb chefs in Vegas. But we’re ready for chefs to up the edible ante. From a molecular gastronomy room service cart courtesy of Wiley Dufresne to in-hotel food markets curated by Anthony Bourdain, Emily Saladino orders up our dream hotel-chef matchups

Emily Saladino is a journalist and recipe developer in New York City. She has covered food, drinks, travel, and culture for Bloomberg, BBC, Travel + Leisure, and others. A former professional cook, she graduated from the International Culinary Center. She is currently the Editor in Chief of VinePair.

See recent posts by Emily Saladino

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Wylie Dufresne x Propeller Island City Lodge, Berlin, Germany

Why: With the closing of Manhattan’s wd-50 this month, molecular maestro Wylie Dufresne has some time on his hands. We’d like to see him reinvent room service at this avant-garde hotel named for a science fiction novel.

What: Propeller Island hotel is as much an interactive art exhibit as it is place to hang your (Magritte-inspired) hat. Think a bed floating above a slanted floor or upside down rooms with mattresses sunk into the floors. In other words, the perfect setting for mad scientist Dufresne to wheel up a space age room service cart peddling wd-50 signatures like pizza pebbles and scrambled egg ravioli alongside menu items inspired by the guestrooms themselves. We’re thinking icicle-shaped shards of savory shrimp glass noodles for the mirror-covered “Kaleidoscope” suite, and futuristic fish and chips for the nautical “Sails” room.

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Mario Batali x The Chedi Andermatt, Andermatt, Switzerland

Why: After a day on the slopes, who better than Molto Mario to ply skiers with offal-rich Italian-American fare, robust red wine and invigorating Fernet cocktails?

What: We’d like to see Batali helm a Michelin-worthy kitchen smack dab in the middle of the Swiss Alps at the Chedi Andermatt. His ski in/ski out dining chalet would be modeled in part on the Babbo townhouse in Manhattan’s West Village, with glowing candles, weathered wood floors and that’s-so-Mario fare like bucatini with house-cured guanciale. Chef could also rejuvenate his rib-sticking classics with local ingredients, subbing Swiss black grouse livers in his signature beef cheek ravioli, or soft sérac cheese in lasagna Bolognese al forno. Since no après-ski experience is complete with liquid therapy, Batali’s long-time partner Joe Bastianich could source the mostly Italian wine list, including several from his own Udine-based eponymous label. After dinner, Fernet would flow like Alpine spring water. Salute!

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New Budget Brand x Anthony Bourdain, Worldwide

Why: The man in black has a passport and he’s not afraid to lose it. At an imaginary (for now) brand of Bourdain-backed budget hotels, global travelers could experience local cuisine his way: raw, real and with a whole lot of booze.

What: Set in multi-culti food cities like Singapore, London, Mexico City, Penang and Portland, we envision a cross between boutique and bordello with a little dive bar grit built in. The stylish, affordable spots would partner with nearby art and fashion schools to lend an authentic sense of place to the design. Near every lobby, a collection of the city’s top food trucks, taco shacks, noodle bars or ice cream stands would set up a hyper-local hawker center. Bourdain wouldn’t do the cooking, but he would handpick each and every available vendor. It’s a tough job, but someone’s gotta do it – and we’re pretty confident Tony’s up to task.

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Alvin Cailan x Andaz Hotels Worldwide

Why: For Hyatt’s chic boutique brand, it’s all about balancing fashion and function. Who better to manage the morning breakfast rush than an Angeleno chef who turned egg sandwiches into high art?

What: Eggslut, Alvin Cailan’s downtown LA food truck turned Grand Central Market sensation, would reinvent the grab-and-go hotel breakfast beloved by the Andaz chain’s Warby Parker-wearing road warriors. We picture a retro-sleek food cart discreetly parked near the paperless iPad check-in area in each front-desk-free lobby. There, a Cailan acolyte in Richard Chai-designed chef whites would serve up Eggslut’s signature savory sammies like egg salad with arugula and chives, or soft scrambled eggs with melted cheddar and sriracha mayo. He’d also throw in some cold-pressed juice, bamboo cutlery and recycled napkins.

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Marcus Samuelsson x Round Hill Hotel & Villas, Montego Bay, Jamaica

Why: Samuelsson is a Michelin-starred, sartorial supernova with a knack for celebrating local flavors wherever he goes – from Harlem to Bermuda to John F. Kennedy airport. Let’s transport him to this Caribbean luxury landmark, which has suites designed by another sharp-dressed New Yorker, Ralph Lauren.

What: Richly spiced and multicultural to its core, Jamaican cuisine is the perfect platform for Samuelsson’s globetrotting gastronomic joie de vivre. We’d like to see him head to the coconut groves and spice farms surrounding Round Hill for inspiration, and then import a bit of uptown swagger to the Montego Bay dinner table. We’re thinking ackee and saltfish atop a delicate taro emulsion, and bar snacks like hush puppy-sized beef patties made with Red Stripe batter. For dessert, maybe a riff on Red Rooster’s signature doughnuts, filled with local cassava instead of sweet potato.

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Rene Redzepi x Mashpi Lodge, Mashpi, Ecuador

Why: At his award-winning Noma, the world’s top-ranked chef made sea kelp sexy, and enthusiastically endorsed edible ants. Let’s see the multi-Michelin-starred forager and environmentalist take on the tropics in a biodiversity hotspot in the Ecuadorian rainforest.

What: Talk about going the distance. The luxury lodge is in the heart of a natural reserve, some four hours from the nearest city. The grounds span 3,200 acres of lush jungle canopies filled with 500 types of birds and more tree frogs than you can shake a walking stick at, but locals say only three or four species of plant life are edible. We’d like Redzepi to forage the forest for stinging nettles and fiddlehead ferns to create innovative, rainforest-inspired fare for the well-heeled trekkers in the resort’s mod dining room. Cuy empanadas with nettle foam, anyone?

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Thomas Keller x The Jefferson, Washington DC

Why: The quintessential American grand dame recently reopened after a two-year makeover. Now seems the perfect time for the country’s premier chef to revolutionize fine dining all over again.

What: When Keller opened his groundbreaking French Laundry restaurant more than 20 years ago, he displayed French technique with an all-American accent. Talk about a revolution. At the recently refreshed Jefferson hotel, Keller could honor its namesake’s francophilic tendencies with his signature New World sense and sensibility. We’re thinking a heavily Virginian wine list alongside a play on TFL’s beets and leeks dish, using locally sourced crab instead of lobster. We’d also love to see Keller bring some butcher block tables and breezy, Bay Area charm to Washington DC’s buttoned-up downtown.

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Ivan Orkin and Hotel Unique, Sao Paulo, Brazil

Why: Sao Paulo is home to the largest Japanese population outside of Japan, but most of the city’s Japanese restaurants are of the sushi-and-sake variety.

What: Ramenmaster Ivan Orkin is used to being a stranger in a strange land – the Long Island native learned the art of udon at Tokyo’s high stakes ramen parlors before making his U.S. debut in New York City last year. He could bring New York swagger by the bowlful to Sao Paulo’s red-hot culinary scene. Locals and guests alike would line up to try his signature mazeman at a ramen counter installed alongside Hotel Unique’s rooftop Skye bar. After all, locals may have nicknamed Ruy Ohtake’s mod design hotel “the watermelon” for its unusual shape, but, to us, it looks an awful lot like a bowl of ramen.

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Eric Ripert x The Temple Hotel, Beijing, China

Why: Le Bernardin’s Michelin-starred silver fox is both a Buddhist and an art collector, making him a natural fit for a design hotel in a Qing Dynasty-era temple.

What: Hungry travelers typically associate Beijing with crispy “Peking” ducks, but the city’s culinary waters run deep. We’d love to see Manhattan’s fisher king bring his impeccable technique to seafood-centric street foods like Haidian grass carp, and abalone with peas and fish paste. The hotel’s existing restaurant celebrates Gallic grandeur, but Ripert’s outpost would embrace local flavors with the same elegantly accessible style of the newly renovated NY Le Bernardin. The road to enlightenment is personal, but we think there’s something awfully zen about tucking into elevated night market fare in an 18th Century monastery.

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Dan Barber x Treehotel, Harads, Sweden

Why: This collection of 10 avant-garde treehouses has eco-friendly allure and cutting-edge design by Swedish starchitects Martin Videgard and Bolle Tham, but the austere landscape lacks edible bounty. Enter Dan Barber, thrice Michelin-starred chef and TED-talking culinary activist. C’mon, Dan. Let’s get vertical.

What: Barber could champion the world’s first hotel-sponsored vertical agriculture project, decreasing food miles and farming footprints by cultivating produce for Treehotel guests in an LED-lit, glass-walled skyscraper. Since green is the word, we suggest building the grange alongside Mirrorcube, a two-person “treeroom” accessible by ascension bridge and conveniently covered in reflective glass – all the better for refracting light for the farm. We envision Nordic produce like black currants, lingonberries, rapeseed and rye growing straight to the sky. Haute cuisine, indeed.



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