It’s not often that I will admit freely that I’ve been mistaken about a supplier. Within the belly of the Hilton Universe, we have a supply management company that battles with companies tooth and nail to secure us the best pricing. I can only imagine what these negotiations are like… I somehow picture Cartman on the phone line saying to the baffled negotiator, ‘Chuck – you’re breaking my balls, Chuck… come on, Chuck… give me a break. You’re breaking my balls.’
At Lockwood we have had a great deal of leniancy to step outside of these boundaries when needed to secure the better product. As a responsible chef, I do make it a point to use our ‘approved suppliers’ whenever possible.
To the point, we recently were told that the primary bid for seafood had been awarded to Supreme Lobster. The image I had of this company was of their frozen product, and I was very skeptical and hesitant to bring them in to my kitchen for fresh fish. Lo and behold, I continued on with my preferred supplier and had pretty much no confidence that they could offer comparable product.
After pretty much ignoring the movement and being told by the defeated supplier that they would continue offering the contracted pricing to me even though they had lost their bid, I didn’t much see a need to rock our boat. I also felt Supreme would be ok with this and leave me alone as the vast majority of the income from our property comes from our banqueting facilities.
I was wrong and likely naive. The rep who handles the hotel side of the account understood why I was hesitant and had his ’boutique’ fish rep, Carl Galvan, a/k/a The Chicago Fish Dude get in contact with us. Though we have had (even this morning) some growing pains, there is a level of service he has been providing that’s been missing from the others. For one – and probably most significantly – he keeps a twitter account (above link) and frequently updates it with unique items that have landed. I enjoy and prefer these frequent updates much more than the mundane weekly market reports in my email. Little by little I have been throwing more of my business his way and am strongly considering altering my seafood menu to more spontaneously reflect what’s available.
Despite that I am very demanding and at times a simple asshole with my suppliers, I can occasionally give props and admit it can be beneficial to open my stubborn mind. That said, there is no way I’ll ever give all of my fish business to just one supplier. Also a discalimer for those who are questioning, there are no ulterior motives for this post other than that I’ve been receiving some good, unique fish recently which make it to the site in the near future.