by Terence Baker | May 01, 2004

Mark Beaupre"Every evening I sit with the planner over a glass of wine, and we talk about that day and the one to follow."

Mark Beaupre is executive chef at the 1,000-room JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes in Orlando. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., Beaupre has worked for Marriott for 20 years. He presides over two restaurants and a staff of 140 and handles the food requirements for the hotel’s meeting and convention groups.

Do you meet the meeting planner before the event? Yes, as the idea is to build relationships, especially if the meeting is, say, three years away. I assist the sales managers, and that really adds to the comfort level of the person responsible for the event. By the time the group gets here, I have talked with and e-mailed him or her many times. During the event, every evening I sit with the planner over a glass of wine, and we talk about that day and the one to follow.

What is the trend now in food? To keep dishes fresh and simple, so I use lots of Florida seafood and citrus fruits. Heavy sauces are out.

How are your banquet rooms designed? We have stainless steel tables with black spandex covering the legs; we also have tiled, wooden tables. I like cut glass, candles and mini-spotlights, to give the room a clean look.

Do you work with your sister property, the [584-room] Ritz-Carlton? Yes. My kitchen is joined to theirs, and I work closely with their chief, Sean Woods. All the convention and banqueting space is between our two hotel towers, and we combine staffs when a group has bought out both properties.