Chef Barry Hulse is the Banquet Chef at Big Cedar Lodge. He has been employed at Big Cedar Lodge for a total of 21 years, 20 of which have been in the banquet side of the business. Chef Hulse has worked in the culinary world for a total of 34 years and has very much enjoyed working at Big Cedar Lodge for the largest part of his career.
1. What is the most interesting dish you have prepared for a convention group?
Celebration Taste Dinners—food and wine dinners with exotic foods and working with wild game (ex-venison and sting ray)
2. What is your favorite dish to prepare for convention group?
I enjoy BBQ buffets, down home cooking, and plated steak and salmon dinners. We have a chuck wagon site on property by the lake where guests can cook their own steaks for a fun experience.
Pictured below is the fillet grilled with Madeira wine and mushroom sauce, served with scalloped potatoes and grilled tomato with asparagus and Brussels sprouts. This dish is one of the Lodge’s many choices for banquet meals.
3. What trends do you see in the meetings/conventions f&b business?
Guests are being more frugal and more cost conscious. Some groups still spend lavishly, but most people want to scale down and cut costs. A lot of people have food allergies or special dietary needs (example—vegetarian diets, gluten free diets).
Below is a photo of another banquet dish—grilled salmon and watercress salad.
4. What is your specialty dish?
I enjoy the Thanksgiving brunch, where we serve around 2500 people every year for Thanksgiving. I prepare the cornbread stuffing for all of the on-site restaurants for Thanksgiving, which is about 400 gallons for the holiday.
5. Why is your venue great for group meals?
So many offerings for guests to choose where they want to have their meal. Besides the conference center, the Lodge also caters out to on-site venues as well, for example the chuck wagon site and meals at Dogwood Canyon and Top of the Rock. The Lodge has recently added a dinner cruise on the Lady Liberty, which was bought from New York City. The boat used to be used for tours around the Statue of Liberty.
6. What dish has been a crowd-pleaser?
The greatest guest satisfaction the Lodge has is in its plated dinners. Duet plated dinners, such as steak and grilled salmon, with sides such as scalloped potatoes and other home-style sides produces good feedback. The bake shop makes a lot of good desserts as well.
7. Does your venue participate in the farm-to-fork dining trend? If so, how?
Big Cedar tries to buy as much local product as possible. The challenge begins when produce becomes out of season. The trout served at the Lodge comes from a local trout farm year-round.
The Devil’s Pool Restaurant reopened Memorial Day weekend 2013 after being closed since January 2013 to be renovated. The new restaurant is now home to a new large state-of-the-art kitchen. Pictured below is the delicious triple-layer brownie, which is served in the restaurant.
The wedding business at Big Cedar has really taken off recently. Big Cedar has many choices for wedding ceremonies and reception venues. The Lodge has recently purchased a property called Integrity Hills, featuring a chapel and the Stables, which is a dining hall that can seat up to 250 people.
For more information on Big Cedar Lodge, please visit http://www.big-cedar.com/default.aspx or call 1-800-225-6343.