There's a new chef running things at the Westin Crown Center Hotel: Former executive sous chef Todd Claytor is currently acting as the Westin's interim executive chef during this transitional period. The Westin's corporate management — Starwood Hotels — will also be taking over the nearby Hyatt Regency Crown Center in December, changing that 31-year-old property into a Sheraton. It's rumored that after the corporate change-over, the Westin Crown Center will replace the Hyatt in operating the Crown Center restaurants Milano and the Crayola Cafe.
Two months ago, chef Martin Hauser — profiled in Fat City last April — who was wearing two hats at the Westin Hotel as both executive chef and food and beverage director, officially checked out of the property and took a new job as the executive chef at the Marriott Country Club Plaza. That left a void at the Westin that is currently being filled by Claytor as interim executive chef and Jeff Charlton as interim food and beverage director.
Next month, chef Claytor will get a chance to show off his prowess in pairing creative dishes with California vintages when the Westin's signature steakhouse, Benton's, hosts a Ramey Wine Cellars Dinner on Thursday, September 1, from 6:30 to 10 p.m. The meal is priced at $80, not including tax or an 18 percent gratuity.
Claytor's menu will begin with a seared lump crab cake paired with Ramey 2007 Ritchie Vineyard Chardonnay, followed by grilled California rock fish served with apple-braised cabbage and a chardonnay ver jus and a glass of Ramey 2008 Russian River Chardonnay. A USDA Prime flatiron steak sided with grilled asparagus, pommes de terre lorette and a veal-and-morel demi-glace will be served with Ramey 2007 Napa Cabernet Sauvingnon; a selection of fine cheeses accompanied by cherry fruit leather, wildflower honey, and dried figs will be presented with Ramey 2007 "Rodgers" Syrah. The dessert finale will be a lavendar caramel and Venezuelan-spiced ganache.
Silas Rushton from the Ramey Wine Cellars will discuss the vineyard's wines. For reservations, call 816-391-4460 or click here.