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by Michael C. Lowe | June 01, 2011

Arame seaweed saladFor attendees tired of searching host cities for vegan or gluten-free meals, there's some good news from Fairmont Hotels & Resorts. As of Jan. 1 this year, all 64 Fairmont properties (including 41 in North America) offer Lifestyle Cuisine Plus, a choice of menu options for guests with special dietary needs. The new menus accommodate health concerns such as food allergies, diabetes and heart disease, as well as dietary preferences such as macrobiotic, raw or vegan dishes.

The program is an extension of the Fairmont Lifestyle Cuisine menus that debuted in 2006 and included low-fat, low-carbohydrate and vegetarian options. With increasing requests from guests with specific dietary needs, Mariano Stellner, corporate director of food and beverage in the Americas for Fairmont, decided it was time for a new brandwide effort. "Before, clients had to beg for diet-specific dishes, but now we're ready for them," Stellner says. "Diners should not feel like they have to go out of their way to be accommodated."

To prepare staff for the new program, Fairmont flew its chefs to a training conference in Chicago last May, where they were given the education and skills to create diet-specific dishes. "We wanted to approach the program from a holistic angle and give chefs training from the ground up so they could take the concept and create their own menus," says Stellner.

With help from nutrition experts, Fairmont developed criteria for different dietary needs and instructed its chefs on how to use recipe analysis software called Nutritionist Pro to stay within those guidelines. While adhering to various sets of restrictions, Fairmont chefs have been encouraged to use maximum creativity, resulting in dishes far removed from usual hotel fare. Some examples:

• Gluten-free Cornish crab cake and marinated cucumber and grapefruit salad (served at the Fairmont Bab Al Bahr in Abu Dhabi);

• Vegan quinoa salad with cucumber, tomato, mint and lemon (Fairmont Washington, D.C.); and

• Macrobiotic arame seaweed with sunflower seeds, chives and mustard (Fairmont Beijing).

Executive chef Jason DallingJason Dalling, executive chef at the Fairmont Washington, D.C., offers more details about Lifestyle Plus in an exclusive video found here.