Talkin' Shop

Lunch Delivered by Herb’n Vegan

Vegan food doesn’t have to be boring! We forced (most of) our team to branch out of their comfort zones and had lunch delivered by our longtime friend, Stacey Ellis, founder and chef of Herb’n Vegan. The majority of our team are meat-lovers so they were hesitant when they heard we were having a vegan lunch. However, they were pleasantly surprised when they discovered that vegan food could be just as delicious as meat. We enjoyed a lovely spread containing Herb’n Reuben sandwiches made from tempeh and tofu ricotta, Curried “Chicky” Salad sandwiches made from jackfruit, all accompanied by Tomato Basil Soup and Quinoa Salad. To top it all off, we ended our meal with Rosemary Shortbread cookies. Our team thoroughly enjoyed everything we tried and Madison even considered becoming a vegan.

 

Check out Herb’n Vegan online and order a delicious lunch for your office or have Stacey cater your next event!

herbnvegan.com | stacey@herbnvegan.com | 310.367.4912

AFCO Eats: Vanessa Gets Served at Santé

I was fortunate enough to visit Sonoma a couple weeks before the North Bay fires. To think that the picturesque rolling hills are now covered in ashes is heartbreaking. My heart goes out to all of those affected by the fires. I decided to write about my experience at Santé with the hopes of encouraging tourism to the area to help promote a speedy recovery.

 

Sonoma may be known for its wine, but amongst the rich history and friendly locals, I rediscovered the art of good service and the beauty of properly savoring a thoughtful meal at the Fairmont Sonoma’s Michelin-starred restaurant, Santé.

 

Arriving at Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa is an experience in itself; one drives up to the hotel to find a cascading fountain, firepits perfect for welcoming a cold night with a craft cocktail and good company, and a lobby that is both chic and inviting.

 

We are seated in a classic-meets-modern dining room with rich velvet and leather details and an impressive wall of wines that extends beyond where the eye can see. An iPad is provided to us with a seemingly endless wine and beverage list – perhaps the only point of our experience that was a bit disconnected where technology seems to take a backseat to an experience that favors dining as a journey of the senses – an intimate communal gathering if you will.

 

The restaurant’s sommelier brings our wine, introduces the aromas, and welcomes us to Sonoma. A minute after he leaves, we are greeted with an amuse bouche of cucumber with local goat cheese and a still hot-out-of-the-oven quiche. Who doesn’t love to be greeted with a complimentary flavor bomb of deliciousness? We instantly had the impression that this was about to be an EXCELLENT meal. Takeaway: the amuse bouche is ready for a revival. Surprising and delighting customers will never go out of style.

 

But that’s not all. It may be common to receive a bread basket at the table, but after finishing off our amuse bouche bites, we were greeted with a tray of ten fresh-baked slices of bread, ranging from lemon poppyseed to 12-grain. Our server also brought a plate of two local kinds of butter and fresh sea salt, providing recommendations on which butter paired best with which bread. After exchanging looks of “this must be too good to be true” with my boyfriend, these, too, quickly disappeared off of our plates. I remind myself, yet again, that I need to learn how to bake my own bread.

 

After perusing the menu composed of seasonally-driven dishes with ingredients sourced from local farms, we decided on:

 

Salad of Heirloom Tomatoes from “The Patch” with burrata mozzarella, compressed and marinated melon, sherry & shallot vinaigrette, balsamic, petite basil 

Filet Mignon of Black Angus Beef with Yukon gold pommes purrée, glazed seasonal vegetables, cabernet & black truffle bordelaise sauce

Pan Seared Pacific King Salmon with garden squash, sweet pepper pipérade, corn purée, Parisienne gnocchi, basil & garlic pistou emulsion

 

And last but not least…our waitress informed us of the Valrhona Chocolate Soufflé with chocolate Anglaise sauce. Due to preparation time, you have to order it at the beginning of the meal. We were sold on this item from the beginning and were not disappointed in the least. C’est superbe!

 

I would highly recommend visiting this Sonoma treasure. It is a true testament to the beauty of fine dining: being greeted with outstanding service, connecting with those you love over a quality meal, and slowing down for a few minutes to fully appreciate how a creamy, freshly-churned butter from a farm five miles away can put the biggest smile on your face.

Meet the New af&co.

afandco

INDUSTRY LEADING HOSPITALITY AND RESTAURANT CONSULTING AGENCY EXPANDS FOOTPRINT WITH NEW PARTNERSHIP

Former Restaurateur, Anne Le Ziblatt Joins Forces With 30 Year Industry Veteran, Andrew Freeman

 

San Francisco, Calif. (September 21, 2017) – Andrew Freeman, president of one of the nation’s leading hospitality and marketing consulting agencies, announced today that he has brought on a partner, Anne Le Ziblatt, to continue the evolution and growth of the company he founded twelve years ago. A catalyst behind the move was to expand the agency’s capabilities and provide additional executive level leadership as a foundation for future growth. The newly formed af&co. will continue to offer public relations, marketing, consulting, and creative services to restaurant and hospitality clients coast-to-coast, as well as expand the agency’s physical footprint in additional geographical markets.

 

After twelve years of being the sole proprietor of Andrew Freeman & Company, and seeing consistent growth year after year, Freeman – who has been named as one of the Top 25 Most Extraordinary Minds in Sales and Marketing by the Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International – seized the opportunity to bring on a partner that would complement his strengths and maximize the agency’s potential.

 

“One of our key strengths as an agency has always been a deep understanding of the hospitality industry and a philiosphy of partnering with operators to really drive sales,” says Freeman. “Anne’s experience as an operator will strengthen this expertise and bring our client services to an even higher level of excellence.”

 

Le Ziblatt brings over fifteen years of hospitality service, operations, and finance experience to af&co., as the former proprietor of Tamarine Restaurant & Gallery (Palo Alto, California) and Bong Su Restaurant & Lounge (San Francisco, California). She will be spearheading the development, communication and implementation of effective growth strategies and operational processes for the agency, as well as providing day-to-day leadership and management to the af&co. team. Freeman will continue to focus on the overall creative direction and progression of the agency, serving as the driving force behind the public relations and marketing divisions, as well as oversee the agency’s national Consulting Services Group which works with multi-concept operators, chains, hotels and other companies to develop, launch and refine restaurants and other culinary experiences.  This division has represented a significant area of growth for the agency over the past five years due to increased competition and rising guest expectations in all segments.

 

Freeman, now with over 30 years in the industry, opened the doors to Andrew Freeman & Company in November 2005. Since then, the agency has seen exceptional organic growth which can be attributed to the opportunistic nature and entrepreneurial spirit of the agency and Freeman himself.

 

Le Ziblatt was first introduced to Freeman when she hired the agency to represent her restaurants. The two became friends and Freeman later presented her with the unique opportunity to transition from being a successful restaurant owner and operator to partner, offering a fresh perspective to the firm that other communications and branding agencies just don’t have. Le Ziblatt stated, “I understand what restaurateurs care about and we’re going to be able to tailor our services to our clients even more now because of it. This agency always had a revenue focused approach, but we have tremendous potential now that we are working in tandem from both sides of the business.”

 

What started as a one-man marketing consultant company has grown into one of the nation’s leading hospitality and marketing agencies, offering services including creative and concept development, brand strategy, public relations, social media management and culinary event planning. Over the past twelve years, Freeman and his team have launched and promoted over 300 hotels and restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. In 2007, Freeman started the agency’s annual trends report, which quickly became an industry standard.

 

Both Freeman and Le Ziblatt will continue with their philanthropic endeavors including those focused on women’s organizations and LGBT empowerment alongside partnering to support organizations such as Dress for Success, Meals on Wheels and San Francisco Food Bank. This partnership is laying the groundwork for the legacy Freeman has always had the vision of building. In the future, af&co. will continue to be a place where talent is developed, creativity is fostered, careers are built, and clients’ stories are shared with the world.

 

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About af&co.

af&co. is an innovative restaurant and hospitality consulting firm, headquartered in San Francisco with clients across the country. The high-energy hospitality agency offers a unique blend of expertise in marketing, publicity and creative services. The af&co. team will do whatever it takes to build awareness for clients and ultimately increase sales. af&co. offers tailored, flexible programs that include: creative/concept development, brand strategy, recruiting, graphic design, public relations, sales/marketing, training, event management, and more depending on the clients’ needs. The af&co. team is creative, direct and fun, and focuses on the areas that they are passionate about: restaurants and beverages, travel and hotels, and lifestyle personalities and products. For more information, visit afandco.com or follow them on Facebook or Instagram.

 

About Andrew Freeman

Named as one of the Top 25 Most Extraordinary Minds in Sales and Marketing by the Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International, Andrew brings a combination of experience, passion and creativity to every endeavor.  Prior to opening af&co., Andrew was Vice President of Public Relations and Strategic Partnerships for Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants, where he launched over 40 hotels and restaurants as well as the global brand. Andrew has also worked at the legendary Rainbow Room, Russian Tea Room and Windows on the World, where he was vice president of public relations and marketing. In 2016 and 2017, af&co. was named by the San Francisco Business Times as one of the Top 50 LGBT-Owned Businesses in the Bay Area. Andrew is a contributing editor to numerous industry magazines and blogs and guest speaker at Industry conferences. af&co.’s annual trend report is highly regarded and has garnered tremendous worldwide coverage. www.afandco.com

 

About Anne Le Ziblatt

Joining af&co. as Partner in 2017, Anne brings over 15 years of hospitality operations and finance experience to lead the firm’s development, communication and growth strategies. As Director of Marketing and Communications at Kroll, a global risk management services firm, she developed and led product launches, developed advertising and public relations campaigns, oversaw internal communications, and architected corporate events. Switching gears into hospitality as a restaurateur, Anne ventured to create dining destinations reflective of the high style cuisine found in Southeast Asia’s metropoles. She opened Tamarine Restaurant & Gallery in Palo Alto (a Forbes Global Power Dining favorite) in October 2002 and later launched her second successful restaurant enterprise, Bong Su (Esquire’s “Top 20 Best New Restaurants”) in San Francisco.

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