David Patterson, Adam Thomas, Justin Miller and John Johnstone, CMC, have created an environment where culinarians can do their best work and accomplish great results.
Look far and wide and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a culinary operation with as much talent in its executive leadership team, as little ego, and as many moving parts as that of The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colo.
The size of the Broadmoor’s culinary program can’t be overstated. There are 20 restaurants, 280 cooks and chefs, 200 stewards and 800 front-of-house employees. There are 18 kitchens, a full-service butcher shop, a bakery and a chocolaterie. There are 315,000 sq. ft. of event space across a 5,000-acre resort. There’s a farm, an apprenticeship program—and so much more.
Books could be written about how each of these individual elements are managed and run on a day-to-day basis. But The Broadmoor’s success isn’t inside of each of these silos. It’s in the unity of the collective whole.
The Broadmoor maintains its excellence by breaking down the guest’s journey to identify opportunities where the experience can be enhanced. The team then brings together various culinary components to work collaboratively for maximum impact.
The outcome is a food-and-beverage experience that feels simultaneously organic and intricately constructed. Guests have access to whatever they want, wherever they want, whenever they want.
A Global and Local Brigade
Leading from the front is Executive Chef David Patterson, who has been with The Broadmoor since 2013. He is the sixth Executive Chef in the resort’s history and his resume is extensive. It includes a number of years training with Alain Ducasse in kitchens in Paris and Monaco.
Adam Thomas is The Broadmoor’s Executive Pastry Chef. He joined the team just two months after Patterson, having previously worked at The Beverly Wilshire, a Four Seasons hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif. Thomas has practiced the sweet side of the culinary arts in kitchens all over the world.
Justin Miller serves as Executive Sous Chef and holds the longest tenure on the leadership team, with 18 years at The Broadmoor under his belt. He has been instrumental in the resort’s continued success.
John Johnstone, CMC (right), is the Vice President of Food & Beverage and the relative “new guy” on the leadership team, having come aboard in 2016. Previously, he was Director of Club Operations at Augusta (Ga.) National Golf Club. His resume also includes leadership roles with Ritz-Carlton properties in Washington, D.C., Boston, Sarasota, Greensboro, Ga., Los Angeles, Bali, Milan, Dubai, Thailand, and multiple properties in China.
Each of these chefs is an all-star in his own right. Together, they are unstoppable and without a single bit of ego.
“Ego does not make a great chef,” says Johnstone. “We lead with humility. We strive for excellence. The best chefs stand with their cooks at the stove, taking them through the process with empathy.
“These are the type of people we attract here at The Broadmoor,” he adds. “We seek chefs who are stewards of their culinary knowledge, and who are eager to pass it on to those coming from behind.”
The Team Mentality
The four Broadmoor chefs are supported by an army of culinarians, managers and service staff with an incredible depth of talent.
“It’s physically impossible for me to see every plate of food served or to expedite every busy service,” says Patterson. “We have a talented team made up of individuals we’ve hired from the outside for key positions, as well as some really high-caliber homegrown talent.”
Patterson and his leadership team spend a great deal of time establishing standards. They talk often about what success means for the resort. Then they delegate and evaluate.
“I give the team direction and follow up to ensure that everything is going as expected,” says Patterson. “We’re highly focused on standardization, with weighted and measured recipes, photos of every dish, station setups, spreadsheets and every detail you could imagine that it might take to run 18 kitchens at the caliber we do.”
The Broadmoor team keeps the lines of communication wide open. The prevailing mantra is that everyone works for the guest.
“We have to be equal in our response to serving the guest and creating an experience,” says Johnstone. “There is no such thing as back of house and front of house. I don’t believe in it. We are one team. We have different responsibilities, but we work in unison. Everyone has to own the problems that come up and have a very good defect resolution.”
Johnstone says he breaks down the barrier between the kitchen and the dining room by not tolerating anything else.
“When I meet with a chef, the manager is expected to be there, too,” he says. “I want my leaders to own each other’s issues. I don’t choose a side during defect resolution. Instead, I ask why, five times.
“Once you get to the root of the issue, we begin the process of ‘no-fault fixing,’” he continues. “It doesn’t necessarily matter whose fault the defect is—but it must be fixed. Focusing on whose fault it is means you’re focused on the wrong thing.
“Instead, focus on the defect,” he says. “Ask why it happened. Have a willingness and desire to rectify it. Eliminate it from happening again.”
Patterson started with The Broadmoor as an Executive Sous Chef in charge of restaurants. He was soon given full autonomy over banqueting—and what happened next stands as one of the biggest impacts he has had on the resort thus far.
“I inherited a 45-page banquet menu and was tasked with ‘reinventing’ the program,” says Patterson. “The smartest way I could think to do that was to start with a blank Microsoft Word document.”
Today, The Broadmoor’s banquet operation features lots of live-action cooking, dinner stations, themed events and creative presentations. The quality of the food is vastly improved as well.
“It’s one thing to change the philosophy, the menus and quality of the food,” says Patterson. “That in and of itself is an undertaking—but when you compound those changes with the fact that we have a 5,000-acre property with literally hundreds of locations for banquet events, it can get complicated quite quickly.”
Strong systems, talented chefs and relentless communication of details are critical elements in The Broadmoor’s continued success with banquets. There is an intricate logistical element as well that details how food and equipment move around the property and how events are to be set up, staffed and broken down.
“Logistically, we spend much of our time coordinating and organizing events in remote locations,” says Miller. “It works because we are all on the same team and function with the same mindset. We’ve hired great chefs. We’ve renovated and built efficient kitchens. We’ve created tools and systems to keep us successful.”
The Broadmoor’s culinary team is able to consistently exceed the expectations of the host, no matter if they are planning a board meeting for ten executives or a multi-day conference for 5,000 attendees.
On the Farm
Johnstone came to The Broadmoor yearning to work at one of the last iconic properties that cares about every single piece of the production process. The Broadmoor still fabricates its own fish, meat and honey, and many of the resort’s chefs have trained in the classic style.
Much of The Broadmoor’s produce is also sourced locally. Some of it even comes from the property’s own farm, which Patterson had a hand in establishing.
Broadmoor Farms is located near the resort’s golf course. There is a 2,500-sq. ft., state-of-the-art greenhouse and about 3,500 sq. ft. of outdoor beds. There are eight beehives on property as well.
“We also own a ranch property in the northern part of the state that is a working cattle ranch,” says Patterson. “We have another additional 50 beehives there, and our own herd of Wagyu beef that we use exclusively at the resort.”
The Broadmoor has a horticulturalist and a team that oversees the daily operation of the farm. Apprentices are also encouraged to visit and tend to the farm, to gain a better understanding and appreciation for the various products they cultivate.
A Café for Chocolate
Thomas and Patterson began at The Broadmoor within two months of one another. Both were tenured in the industry and the operation was already successful when they came aboard.
The two chefs clicked instantly and in the months that followed they strategically made changes to build momentum and to update and modernize all aspects of both the savory and pastry programs.
In many of the same ways that barriers were broken down between the restaurants and the front- and back-of-house staff, Thomas and Patterson work hard to eliminate the barriers between pastry and savory.
“In the kitchens I grew up in, savory has always been pitted again pastry, stealing equipment late at night like there’s a silly sibling rivalry,” says Thomas. “This banter goes back and forth and perpetuates the distance. Chef Patterson agreed that we need to be catalysts in changing that. And I think we have.”
Café Julie’s is a prime example. This Parisian Patisserie features the resort’s own Luxury Valrhona Chocolate Collection, house-made gelato, signature coffees, espressos, wines and beer, as well as exclusive handmade chocolates. It also shows the bond between the chefs.
“We look for opportunities to practice and educate what we preach,” says Thomas. “When we opened Café Julie’s, we had a lot of press coverage. While they were filming us, Chef Patterson was standing with me, side by side, making chocolates—which is not comfortable for him, by the way—and pralines. We had to stock the retail shelves and there was a mountain of work to be done. He could have been doing a thousand other things, but he chose to be a part of this.”
Thomas appreciates Patterson’s support and willingness to make decisions unapologetically and to support his team.
“He has immense integrity,” he says. “His decision-making capabilities are nearly always accurate. It’s nice to be part of this leadership team. We are always learning and growing. Every Monday, we reset and find more ways to improve.”