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Gaylord National Mixes National and Local Names in F&B Appointments

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Gunnard Cunningham (right foto) has been named vice president of food and beverage for the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center. In his new position, Cunningham will oversee all operations for Gaylord National’s seven restaurants, eateries and lounges, as well as the resort’s in-room dining and conference catering divisions. Most recently Cunningham headed the food and beverage operation at The Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va. Coincidentally, Cunningham’s chef at the Greenbrier was Michael Voltaggio … Michael’s brother Bryan heads up Charlie Palmer Steak in DC.

Wolfgang Birk (left foto) has been named executive chef and general manager of Old Hickory Steakhouse and Pose Ultra Lounge. Considering the chef path that’s been burning recently between New York and Washington, it’s refreshing Gaylord chose to look at the hot food scene of Miami to fill their glamour chef position. Old Hickory is the premier dining spot in the complex that will include an artisanal cheese cave and 2,000 bottle wine cellar.

I had dinner a couple of weeks ago with Birk and Gaylord corporate food and beverage VP Giorgi Di Lemis at a popular DC steakhouse. Birk and Di Lemis both possess an obvious passion and expertise that bodes well for their April opening. I don’t think my appreciation for veal cheeks held up to their conversation about the simple pleasure of a fine red wine and a cow’s head for dinner. I can appreciate offal but have to plead the queasy American stomach when considering going all the way in head to tail dining. How I can justify my bloody rare strip steak is baffling, but a mystery for another dialogue and another time.

Birk’s culinary resume is impressive with names like Miami’s Casa Casuarina (think Versace), Cologne’s three-Michelin-star Rino Casati, New York’s Colors as well as the Carenage Bay Beach & Golf Club Resort in The Grenadines and Grand Bay Hotel’s Bice Restaurant in Miami.

On Friday, Gillian Gaynair at the Washington Business Journal reported more food and beverage hires with recent local history. Duane Keller will be Moonbay Coastal Cuisine’s executive chef. We remember Duane from his tour of duties at Heritage Hunt Golf and Country Club, Potowmack Landing, Dupont Grille, Ashby Inn and Reston’s Market Street Grill. Gillian reports that Gregg Malsbary who left the Washington Convention Center to do consulting work outside the area will be the executive chef of the Star (employee) Dining Room at Gaylord … with 2000 “stars,” that’s a lot of meals just for the staff.

About the Author

Michael Birchenall is Editor and Publisher of Foodservice Monthly, a regional trade publication covering the foodservice industry of the Mid-Atlantic (DE, DC, MD, VA). Foodservice Monthly has been recognized as the Restaurant Association of Maryland's Allied Industry Member of the Year and by the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington as the Joan Hisaoka Associate Member of the Year.

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