InterContinental Hotel and Conference Center

Competing against Cleveland’s premier hospitality brands, the food and beverage operations of the InterContinental Hotel and Conference Center rise to the challenge of offering creative and innovative international cuisines with the latest technology. Located on the campus of the Cleveland Clinic and owned by that institution, the Intercontinental Conference Center boasts 295 guest rooms, 75 club rooms, 27 luxury suites, 16 corner suites and seven suites on an all-suite floor.

The conference center can seat 650 people in 35,000 square feet for banquets and also offers offsite catering. “From a banqueting standpoint, the types of cuisine are pretty much worldwide,” Food and Beverage Director David Schoeffler says. “We have a lot of international chefs and cooks here. Our executive chef is German, and has worked all over the world. So his ability to create dishes from the Middle East or Europe or South America is very strong because he has a good base of sous chefs that work with him that can execute them.

“We’ll get certain delegations that will need care by the Cleveland Clinic, and we cook for the families of these individuals,” Schoeffler adds. “They could be from Kuwait, Turkey, France or Russia. It doesn’t really matter. We do pretty well with that.”

International cuisines also are emphasized at the InterContinental Hotel and Conference Center’s Table 45 restaurant and the 63-seat C2 restaurant in the adjoining suite hotel. “A specialty of Table 45 is world cuisine – taking different types of cuisines throughout the world and keeping to the traditional standard, but also mixing different cuisines and cultures together to create certain dishes,” Schoeffler describes.

Buffet Diversity
Among the North Coast Café’s offerings are American fare. “It has a breakfast buffet in the morning to take care of our hotel guests and a nice lunch buffet,” Schoeffler says. “We change it up weekly and pick a different country to focus on. The buffet changes every single day, but we try to concentrate on a certain area of the world that keeps the chefs in the kitchen pretty sharp on cooking cuisines from around the world. A lot of our guests are international that are here for treatment at the Cleveland Clinic.”

The InterContinental Hotel and Conference Center has a partnership with the Cleveland Clinic to serve certain foods that are low in saturated fat, have no transfat and less than 4 grams of added sugars, are 100 percent whole grain and have less than 600 milligrams of sodium. “If they need something that has no salt, sodium or fat, we accommodate that, also,” Schoeffler notes. Additionally, the center prepares vegan and gluten-free foods.

The hotel works with Classic Seafood Inc. for all of its seafood products. Classic Seafood supplies the hotel with fresh fish for banquets, the North Coast Cafe and the Table 45 Sushi Bar. “Classic Seafood is very knowledgeable in seafood sourcing and seasonal product expertise,” Schoeffler says. “Their products are excellent, as well as their service. Classic also owns a food specialty company called Chef to Chef that InterContinental uses. This company sources specialized and upgraded food items like hor d’oeuvres, olive oils, cured meats, cheeses and vinegars.”

Renovating Banquet Space
The banquet space on the second and third floors of the InterContinental Hotel and Conference Center were renovated at the end of 2014. “When the hotel was built, it was built in the classical manner with a lot of wood, marble, murals and a rich feel,” Schoeffler says. “The renovation is going to blend that classic feel with modern. So we’re calling it modern, classic and exceptional.”

The word “exceptional” was chosen by one of the conference center’s customers to describe her experience at the facility. “She pulled me to the side one day and said, ‘Dave, we do events all throughout the city, but what you and your staff do here is exceptional,’” Schoeffler remembers. “The hotel has been here for 11 years, and with the renovation, we’re going to reintroduce it to the city.”

That modern flavor is being felt throughout the conference center with healthy cuisines, more craft beers and spirits from local distilleries. “We’re doing things with marble and dry ice to keep items cold vs. just on a bed of ice,” Schoeffer says. “We’re using heat lamps without the chafing dishes to feel something is new and innovative. We work with our audio/video company to do something called video mapping. These are high-lumen projectors that are able to project an image around a 3-D item.”

The conference center is developing many innovative uses for the technology. “Some people do it on wedding cakes,” Schoeffler continues. “The icing is white, and they project images on it using a projector and a video mapping computer. For one event, a replica of the Cleveland Browns football stadium was created by our executive chef and filled with assorted breads and different types of deli meats and cheeses.

“We put this stadium up against a wall and projected a video map around it approximately 12 by 35 feet, so the whole wall was consumed with this Cleveland Browns stadium, along with the soundtrack, which is crowd noise,” Schoeffler explains. “You’re incorporating some A/V into your food presentation to give it that flair and make it fun and interesting for the customer, so they walk away while feeling that something was customized specially for them.”

Another technology the InterContinental Hotel and Conference Center uses are Rational ovens for its banquets, many of which feature small plates filled with a variety of interesting dishes. “It’s basically a high-tech oven that manages the heat and the humidity to finish the cooking process,” Schoeffler explains. “We have the ability to fire the food at the last possible minute, so it goes out completed at high quality. We are able to almost do restaurant-style food for banquets.”

The back-of-the-house areas of the conference center were remodeled last year to accommodate the new ovens and to make service faster. Schoeffler is enthused about the growing culinary sophistication and convention business in the Cleveland area. “The city of Cleveland and the entire market has been changing over the last two years,” he observes. “Where Chicago, New York and Miami are so far ahead, Cleveland is really making it back in leaps and bounds in the area.”