Viewing posts categorised under: Dining

Feedback Needed!

by SierraMerril

10 16, 2014 | Posted in Dining, Lodging, Meeting, Special Events, Uncategorized | 0 comments

One of the best ways for a company to improve and grow is through feedback from its customers. Feedback with praise lets a company know what they’re doing right, while negative or constructive feedback tells a company about problems or issues (ongoing or new) that can be improved.

Groups may choose to have an outdoor barbecue lunch or dinner. A majority of the main courses and sides are gluten-free.

Groups may choose to have an outdoor barbecue lunch or dinner. A majority of the main courses and sides are gluten-free.

At Stanford Sierra Conference Center (SSCC), we give all of our guests an opportunity to supply us with feedback about their stay. After a group departs, we provide them with one of two ways to let us know how we’re doing. A handful of our program attendees receive paper surveys at check-out while we email electronic surveys to attendees of most events. Almost all of our departments benefit from these surveys, especially our kitchen, maintenance and housekeeping. Having a guest mention a squeaky door, a tree branch scratching a roof, a burned-out light bulb or a running toilet is a great way for us to gain knowledge when it comes to general maintenance and upkeep. While we do our best to keep an eye on everything around Camp, without actually sleeping in a cabin, it’s hard to know what small details can make someone’s stay better.
Wireless internet is available throughout Camp. In the past two years, it has gotten faster and is available in more areas of Camp.

Wireless internet is available throughout Camp. In the past two years, it has gotten faster and is available in more areas of Camp.

Over the past few years, we saw two things continue to appear on our surveys as items for improvement. The need for stronger and more consistent wireless internet was the most mentioned, while providing more gluten-free food options was the second. SSCC has made big strides in both of these areas. In the past two years, SSCC has added four more T1 lines, bringing the total to eight. T1 lines increase bandwidth, making internet faster. In addition to faster internet, cabins on the east side of Camp have had Ethernet cables hardwired to them, which increases signal strength and helps to eliminate dead zones in cabins. More improvements will continue next year with the last set of cabins becoming hardwired. In the dining room, gluten-free bread is now readily available at breakfast and our hiker bar. In addition to increased bread options, most entrees on the buffet hot carts are gluten-free. Our chefs have made purposeful changes to many of their classic dishes to limit the number of items containing gluten on the hot cart. Our staff will be happy to point out items that do and don't contain gluten. Surveys are also a great way to boost staff morale! SSCC prides itself in having professional, helpful and friendly staff members. Weekly staff meetings include shout-outs for specific staff members from surveys as well as overall staff compliments. Praise for a job well done is always motivation to continue providing the highest level of service.
A group of staff take a break from swimming on one of Camp's floating docks off of Baby Beach.

A group of staff take a break from swimming on one of Camp's floating docks off of Baby Beach.

Looking back at the last season of survey responses, I see quite a few that are helpful. Our website could include better information for individuals who need ADA accommodations, and tips for combating altitude sickness would also be helpful.The expression “It never hurts to ask,” is what comes to mind when I read some of our survey responses. And it’s true-- it never hurts to ask, but there are some things we just can’t control. Suggestions like “heat the lake, ” “more chocolate!” and “less wind” always make me smile. So whether it’s negative feedback, positive feedback, or a rather large request, let us know! We can't make any promises, but we'll try. Our surveys help us to improve our facilities, our service and our overall programming.  

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Catering Rules from Geoffrey Zakarian

by stanfordsierra

08 14, 2014 | Posted in Dining, Special Events | 0 comments

I get regular emails from an online event website, Bizbash , and usually find some useful nuggets of information. A recent post included catering rules by top professional chef Geoffrey Zakarian. The article was my introduction to Geoffrey Zakarian, and now I'm a fan! I think his advice is great (plus he's kind of cute). He has successful restaurants in NYC and is the recent Iron Chef winner, so I think he knows what he is talking about. He also has one cookbook and another available this fall, My Perfect Pantry: 150 Easy Recipes from 50 Essential Ingredients Sounds great to me, I'm going to pre-order that book! Here are a few of his catering rules and how to apply them to an event at Stanford Sierra: Create a story from start to finish - Take advantage that your event is at a Camp in the mountains. Our events are spring or fall, so plan seasonal menus and use appropriate decor. Here are a couple photos from a fall wedding where the bride and her planner did a great job with the decor and Chef Dave created menus to complement the theme of the weekend

The rehearsal dinner was a casual BBQ theme on the dining room deck

The rehearsal dinner was a casual BBQ theme on the dining room deck

Decor for the reception dinner included burlap and live centerpieces in rustic wood planters

Decor for the reception dinner included burlap and live centerpieces in rustic wood planters

Chalkboard signs directed guests to weekend events

Chalkboard signs directed guests to weekend events

The cocktail hour should be no more than ... one hour - Whether your guests spent the day in a meeting or out on the hiking trails, (hopefully at least a little bit of the latter!) I think the fresh mountain air makes people hungrier! So even more reason to keep the cocktail hour to an hour, then get your group up to the dining room. The best place for social hours at Stanford Sierra is in the Old Lodge and on the deck.
Christina setting the wine for a social hour in the Old Lodge

Christine setting the wine for a social hour in the Old Lodge

The Old Lodge deck overlooks Fallen Leaf Lake

The Old Lodge deck overlooks Fallen Leaf Lake

Dress up a buffet-style table Chef Dave and his staff will take care of this for you. Let us know if you have particular requests, otherwise, we'll set our Stanford Sierra creative geniuses to work!
Smoked salmon set for a spring brunch with a creative shape and basil sprigs

Smoked salmon set for a spring brunch with a creative shape and basil sprigs

Take care of yourself, exercise and never forget that you need to be the seemingly smartest person in the room at all times I do my best to follow the first two, and for events at Stanford Sierra, I leave the third part to Chef Dave and our dining room manager Jess.
 Jess, dining room manager, and Chef Dave

Jess, dining room manager, and Chef Dave

Dave and his crew create wonderful meals, then Jess makes sure the serving is seamless. Jess has added many creative details to rooms sets for our recent events. Let us know your requests for your next event at Stanford Sierra and we'll make it happen!  

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Meet Morgan Marshall – More than ‘Head of Housekeeping’

by stanfordsierra

06 20, 2014 | Posted in Dining, Staff members | 0 comments

Morgan Marshall's title is officially Head of Housekeeping, but it's clear upon meeting him that he does quite a bit more than clean toilets and change sheets. Morgan is our resident stargazing cruise expert, the go-to person for local hiking trail conditions, volunteer fire fighter, Omelet Bar mastermind and Linen Bar guru. (We'll cover his disco bingo, volleyball and improv talents in another post)

Morgan in the middle

Morgan in the middle

Beyond his talents and contributions to Stanford Sierra, Morgan has found a way to have fun with his job and various responsibilities while putting his stamp on things. Take the Omelet Bar. According to Morgan, this isn't your "Typical Marriott omelet bar with peppers and mushrooms". While those items are options (plus 21 fruits & vegetables, 16 types of protein, nine cheeses, and a slew of sauces and extras including gummi bears), Stanford Sierra's Omelet Bar goes beyond that.
A few of the fresh omelet fillings

A few of the fresh omelet fillings

With his fellow chefs Morgan created the signature 'Pro Series' omelets including the Omnivore's Dilemma, the Taco Bell, and one served in a sushi roll. For adventurous guests, Morgan will ask them to name an omelet, then he will interpret the ingredients!
Morgan aims to satisfy the omelet desires of all guests!

Morgan aims to satisfy the omelet desires of all guests!

"Why not have fun with it? I like to think that we are purveyors of experience here." Clearly not always too serious. How many conference centers can boast whimsical omelet bars? Or a Head of Housekeeping with a tongue in cheek Instagram account. "The great part here is the latitude to put your reflection on whatever it is you're doing." This is evident within his department. From his Linen Bar during the summer family camp, which Morgan explains is more than just towels on a table (think 'Experience'), to the deliberately campy housekeeping training video he put together for staff. Morgan's stamp of quirky fun with a purpose ensures that even the expected is unexpected. Morgan points out that he wouldn't have the ability to explore his creativity without the hard work  and support of Jan Schlerth, Head of Housekeeping Assistant.
In addition to her hard work, Jan has an amazing smile!

In addition to her hard work, Jan has an amazing smile!

(We'll tell you more about Jan in a later post.) It's staff members like Morgan that help make a conference or retreat at Stanford Sierra a unique, personalized and memorable experience. Even if you don't like omelets.      

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Coffee. What’s in Your Cup?

by Kaffeeman

04 18, 2014 | Posted in Dining | 0 comments

We love coffee! Many of us cannot start a great day without our morning ritual of imbibing a cup of the revered bean.

Christian with Alpen Sierra's espresso roast

Christian with Alpen Sierra's espresso roast

No matter how excellent, sustainable, micro-lot, direct-trade sourced the coffee in the bag is, the ultimate determining factor of its enjoyment in your cup is defined by the roast. Here’s a quick guide to roast degrees and their attributes: First Crack - Light (Third Wave / Artisan): Dry bean surface, cinnamon to light brown in color. Minimal point of development for enjoyable consumption. Best representation of country of origin’s terroir. Accents coffee’s varietal qualities and subtleties of flavor, but often lacks good body and richness. This roast can be over-acidic, disrupting the balance of flavor. Highest degree of caffeine and potentially gastric disturbing acidic compounds. City (medium): Dry bean surface. Light to medium brown in color. Full and balanced representation of the coffee’s true flavor characteristics in all their glory. Good body, true acidity and outstanding flavors. High degree of caffeine, with reduced gastric disturbing acidic compounds. Full-City: Slight spotting of oils on surface, darker brown. Believed by many, including this author, to be the best all around roast degree for full spectrum coffee enjoyment. All of the attributes of medium roast plus enhanced richness from a slight carmelization of sugars, which adds intensity and richness to the cup, especially aftertaste, which is critical and indicative to quality coffee and expert roasting. Dark: Dark brown to black with shiny, oily beans. This is a broad, high temperature range of development, which starts with Vienna on the lightest side (medium dark) and ranges up to French and beyond for Full Dark. Italian Roast is regarded as the darkest degree for the east coast, USA, and French Roast as the darkest on the west coast. Full carmelization of sugars creates the greatest intensity in the cup, and all but mutes truer terroir attributes. The darker the roast is, the greater its intensity becomes, with much less actual flavor in the cup, due to more carbon (flavorless) conversion of the bean’s cellulose. All degrees of roast, single origin and blended coffees, can be brewed by any manner suiting the coffee drinker. Espresso does not have to be extracted with a Dark Italian Roast, nor does a pour-over cone drip brew need to be prepared using a First Crack roasted single origin bean. Although, there are brewing applications which tend to best accentuate specific types of roast, and those we all are witnessing in today’s dynamic specialty coffee scene. The veteran's of the industry are well known and have been roasting mostly dark for decades. The roster includes the ever-populars: Peet's, Starbucks, Cafe Roma, Tully's, et al. The newcomers, which are quantified as the Third-Wave roasters, who proselytize the one and only roast for coffee is the First Crack (light) roast, are taking the specialty industry by storm and upping the information game and artisanal, culinary level of experience. These attention-to-detail organizations include Blue Bottle, Verve, Four Barrel, and a whole and ever-increasing host of new players. The aforementioned companies comprise each end of the roast spectrum, offering something for very distinct target markets, but provide little in the way of roast degree variety. To be recognized and celebrated, are the "classic" roasters, who offer a variety of roast degrees, based upon what best represents the particular coffee's origin and varietal cultivar. These roasters, definitely artisans in their own right, include experts, such as Intelligenstia, Stumptown and Weaver's Coffee and Tea, to name a few. Alpen Sierra, Lake Tahoe's local classic specialty coffee roaster, is a proud purveyor of small batch roasted coffee for Stanford Sierra Camp. For the guest's enjoyment, the team at the Fountain and in the dining room, serve many coffees, which include the Full Dark traditional French Roast, Medium Dark Italian Roast for the espresso, a Full-City Certified Organic Mexico, a Viennese Brazil Yellow Bourbon, and a Medium Decaffeinated Colombia. Over the season take a gander and enjoy the variety of Alpen Sierra Mountain Roasted coffees!
Christian giving an espresso 'how to' to our staff members

Christian giving an espresso 'how to' to our staff members

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Update on Spring Menus from Chef Dave

by stanfordsierra

03 21, 2014 | Posted in Dining, Staff members | 0 comments

Dave Dennis is the Food & Beverage Director/Executive Chef for Stanford Sierra Conference Center, a position he has held for 26 of his 27 years here. A graduate of the California Culinary Academy, Dave worked for various French restaurants in the Sacramento area before joining Stanford Sierra.

Chef Dave at a fall wedding dinner on the dining room deck

Chef Dave at a fall wedding dinner on the dining room deck

Dave is responsible for everything that happens at Stanford Sierra related to food and beverage. Dave designs custom menus for each group during our spring and fall seasons, and he orders all the food staying within budget. Dave prepares most of the food, and relies on two assistant chefs, Tara and Katie, and a pastry chef to manage the day-to-day cooking duties.
Pastry chef Steve loves to share his delicious baked treats

Pastry chef Steve loves to share his delicious baked treats!

Dave, Tara and Katie manage a staff of up to 15 working in the kitchen. Dave puts together the daily schedule for the staff, trains and supervises all of the kitchen staff plus an additional manager and crew for the dining room. According to Dave the best thing about his job is the wealth of great products and the great coworkers he works with on a daily basis. Dave also commented "There are not a whole lot of boundaries here. This allows me to explore eclectic foods along with various ethnicities, and it keeps the job exciting because I am not constrained. The clientele varies within each conference season and within the summer family camp, which makes my job both interesting and challenging. In the summer season it's much more than just family-camp style cuisine. It's become more upscale. Stanford alumni are requesting healthier and more interesting options. We offer many options and integrate as many organic and sustainable options as are available in our area." For the upcoming spring conference season, Dave plans to focus on Mediterranean cuisine with lots of fruits and vegetables being offered throughout the menus. Dave plans to use as much organic produce as possible, keeping things simple and fresh with limited ingredients.
Veggie crudite at a social hour

Veggie crudite at a social hour

Dave prefers to bring out the flavor of say, wild salmon, with a few added flavors like lemon, versus a heavy, cream-based sauce. Dave also plans to incorporate more whole grains like quinoa and bulgur. We welcome any suggestions or requests for menus for your upcoming spring event!    

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Meet the Vintner for our Memorial Weekend Program!

by stanfordsierra

03 05, 2014 | Posted in Dining, Special Events | 0 comments

What does Stanford Sierra on the edge of Desolation Wilderness have in common with Cooper-Garrod Estate Vineyards in the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA? Both destinations lie near and dear to the heart of Doris Hanson Cooper, '79. Doris was a camp counselor for our Stanford alumni family camp during the summers of  1978 and 1979, and she now lives and works at the family's winery in Saratoga. In her job progression, Doris replaced her gorgeous setting on Fallen Leaf Lake for a beautiful view of winemaker emeritus' George Cooper's Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard.

Doris tasting wine in the barrel room

Doris tasting wine in the barrel room

Doris and her vintner husband Bill, will return to Stanford Sierra for our Memorial Weekend Program, May 23-26. Doris and Bill are excited to be a part of the program and share their limited production wines at one of the weekend's signature events, the wine pairing dinner!  
Doris and Bill Cooper

Doris and Bill Cooper

Annually, Cooper-Garrod produces around 3,000 cases of wine from 28 hillside vineyard acres on the western edge of Silicon Valley. All Cooper-Garrod wines are CCOF Certified organic and CSWA Certified Sustainable. If you like the idea of Farm to Fork, you'll love these wines Grapes to Glass! Certified OrganicSustainable winegrowing the winery offers varietal wines from their Chardonnay, Viognier, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, and Syrah - plus the Test Pilot series of proprietary red wine blends which honor founding winemaker George Cooper, a retired NASA research test pilot.
Cooper Garrod bottles, glasses and gift box

Cooper Garrod bottles, glasses and gift box

What distinguishes Cooper Garrod Estate winery from others? The 120-acre property has been in Bill's family since 1893, with five successive generations involved in agricultural pursuits, the vineyards and winery being the most recent. George's Vineyard was planted in 1972, although other plantings followed, it wasn't until 1994 you saw the Cooper-Garrod label in the marketplace.  Many of the bottlings are less than 200 cases, so this is a wine producer you have to know about, instead of read about on the pages of a glossy magazine. The Cooper Garrod family and winery staff produce wines with the vision that you will relax with friends and share their wines around the dinner table. Join us on May 25 at Stanford Sierra to taste Cooper Garrod's delicious wines with Chef Dave's five-course paired menu! Here's to enjoying a glass of Cabernet Franc on the deck overlooking Fallen Leaf Lake this Memorial Weekend - Cheers! Fallen Leaf Lake    

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Linguine with Basil, Roasted Tomatoes, Preserved Lemons and Parmesan

by stanfordsierra

12 05, 2013 | Posted in Dining | 0 comments

During this busy time of year, it's nice to have some easy, healthy and tasty recipes to throw together. Our executive sous chef Tara Crowley served linguine with basil, roasted tomatoes, preserved lemons and Parmesan during our fall conference season. You can make this at home or serve it for your next group event.

DSCN2541

If you're cutting back on simple carbs during this holiday season overloaded with treats made of white flour and sugar, replace the linguine with spaghetti squash. Of course, in this recipe the preserved lemons will need to be prepped in advance or you can purchase them. If you want to make your own preserved lemons, Elise Bauer, a past presenter at our Stanford alumni creative camp has an easy to follow recipe for preserved lemons on her blog Simply Recipes. Tara preserved her lemons in the summer. After a month, she discarded the accumulated liquid and roasted the lemon salt for margaritas, etc. (how good does that sound!)
Tara's preserved lemons and roasted lemon salt

Tara's preserved lemons and roasted lemon salt

Your lemons can preserve for three weeks or up to four months. DSCN2535Roasting tomatoes is a simple step to add great flavor. Especially this time of year when tomatoes aren't in season and don't have the great flavor of a summer tomato. Quarter or halve tomatoes and add fresh sliced garlic which sweetens while roasting. I found an easy roasted tomato recipe on David Lebovitz's blog. IMG_2648 While your pasta or spaghetti squash is cooking, you want to chop your basil and grate your Parmesan. When your linguine is ready, toss with olive oil, then plate the linguine, sprinkle the chopped basil and grated Parmesan, then top with preserved lemons and the roasted tomatoes then drizzle with balsamic vinegar - yum!
Delicious and pretty!

Bon appetite!

In the spring, we'll share more delicious recipes from our dynamic kitchen trio, Dave, Tara and Katie!

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Mid-morning Snack

by stanfordsierra

08 21, 2013 | Posted in Dining, Meeting | 0 comments

I was wondering what to write about this week, when one of my favorite topics came to mind - food! I'm one of those people who needs (don't know if it's a psychological or a physiological need) to eat every couple of hours. My coworkers love to give me a hard time as they see me traipse from my office across the lodge to the kitchen to get my mid-morning snack. Sometimes, if there is a group onsite, I "check on" the coffee break to make sure everything is going smoothly.

Hmmm...someone might need to check on this coffee break might need a check in

Hmmm...someone might need to check on this coffee break

Weather permitting, coffee breaks are held outside. During a meeting or after sitting in front of a computer for a couple of hours, who doesn't need some fresh air? And you can't beat our view!
Our view of Fallen Leaf Lake

Our view of Fallen Leaf Lake

Of course when I "check on" on the coffee break a quality check of the baked goods is usually necessary.
Freshly baked goods at coffee break

Freshly baked goods at a coffee break

For those who prefer a healthier option, we always have a fruit basket out at coffee breaks.
Fresh fruit bowl

Fresh fruit bowl

If there isn't a coffee break happening when my hunger strikes, I go straight to the source and visit Steve in the bakery. It's always a pleasure to see Steve and find out how his two girls are doing, and of course, get some yummy baked goods!
Steve loves to share his delicious baked treats

Steve loves to share his delicious baked treats

And, you can't have baked goods without a cup of coffee (at least I can't). We serve locally roasted and delicious Alpen Sierra coffee. So schedule your next meeting at our Lake Tahoe conference center and join me for a mid-morning coffee break on Fallen Leaf Lake!  

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The Benefits of an All-Inclusive Conference Center

by stanfordsierra

03 20, 2013 | Posted in Dining, Event planning, Lodging, Meeting | 1 comments

There are many benefits to selecting a conference center such as Stanford Sierra which provides all of your meeting and event needs. An all-inclusive conference package plan is budget friendly in that you know all or most costs up front. Our packages include lodging, meals, coffee breaks, meeting rooms, A/V equipment, internet access, recreation, airport transfers, taxes and service fees. Above the package, you can add recreation options, maybe a yoga class or a cruise on our 22-passenger pontoon boat for your attendees during their free time. You can also schedule social hours with hors-d'oeuvres and beverages and add beer, wine and sodas to your dinner. Once you know your agenda and attendance, then we can finalize the social hour food and beverage menu, and either provide an estimate of the costs or you can give us an amount not to exceed.

Add a lakefront social hour to your meeting

Another benefit of an all-inclusive conference center is with everything provided onsite, guests stay here for their downtime and are thoroughly engaged attendees. We regularly hear from our groups that the networking and idea-sharing that goes on among participants when they are not in organized meetings is a valuable benefit of meeting here on Fallen Leaf Lake.

Relaxing lakefront during a meeting break

Most of our employees live onsite and are all-purpose staff, so they are accustomed to working all aspects of service. Since Stanford Sierra is their home, staff members take ownership and go out of their way to make sure everyone has a good overall experience. Our staff tend to be an energetic and happy group!

Setting up for a coffee break isn't all work!

The majority of time we serve just one group at a time, so activities and meal options can be customized for your event. Our staff members can lead guided hikes or we can create team scavenger hunt challenges. We can customize your food and beverage events including lakefront barbecue lunches or dinners.

A team cooking challenge is an option

Check availability on our website if you think our all-inclusive center will work well for your next event. We're open spring and fall for groups of 30 - 180.

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Best Omelet Bar Ever!

by stanfordsierra

09 12, 2011 | Posted in Dining | 0 comments

Twice a week in the summer, our omelet chefs set up on the dining room deck and provide an incredible array of ingredients for your breakfast omelet.  You can choose from 21 vegetables (or fruits), 16 meat/ seafood, nine types of cheese, plus sauces and special toppings including crushed Doritos, gummy bears and sprinkles!

What filling would you choose?

A few of the fresh omelet fillings

If the choice of ingredients is too overwhelming, you can select one of nine omelets in the SSC Pro Sieries

The SSC Pro Series

On the final omelet day of the summer, I went for the Big MacOmelet.  It tasted just like a Big Mac!  (not that I've eaten one recently, but from distant memories.....) If you would like to add omelet bar to your breakfast in the spring or fall conference season, just ask.  I'm sure our trio of chefs would be happy to take a break from their regular day jobs, break out the chalkboard and cook up a few eggs with stuff.  Start choosing your ingredients now!

Our amazing trio of omelet chefs - Brian, Jan and Morgan

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