We recently spoke with Vincent Rossetti, National Director of Restaurants, about what’s cooking at Nordstrom.
What surprises people when they first visit a Nordstrom restaurant?
I think that our customers are surprised with our ability to consistently deliver taste and flavor in our menu items throughout the day and evening, dish after dish. It comes from our commitment to high standards and teaching our teams effectively. You can only execute well what you teach well.
What would you like customers to know about the food they’re eating?
We specify organic whenever possible—all our restaurants are using organic baby lettuce, spinach, arugula and tomatoes. Our eggs are cage free and our milk and dairy products are free of rBGH growth hormones. There are no hydrogenated fats or oils in any food or beverage product in our operations. We’re working with local and sustainable vendors throughout the country to source our food as close to home as possible.
Can you give me some examples?
In New England, we have local farms that provide us with shiitake mushrooms, micro greens, asparagus and seasonal produce throughout the year. Our Blue Stove Restaurant in Burlington gets shellfish from Cape Cod, scallops from Nantucket and clams from Ipswich. All our chickens come from a farm which raises the birds naturally, on an all-vegetarian diet, and minimally processes them.
How did you get into this business?
Food is all I know. I come from a large family and worked at my parent’s restaurant in Chicago. After high school, I went to chef school. I started with Nordstrom in Oak Brook, Illinois as a prep cook nearly 20 years ago and have been with the company ever since.
Tell us about the daily specials.
They’re created by the local chefs and if they catch on, they may end up on all the menus nationwide, so there’s a fair amount of competition. Our Roma tomato basil soup, for example, started as a special in Kansas City in 1998 and became the most successful soup we’ve ever done. We’ve retailed it now—you can buy it in a jar to take home with you.
Do you have any personal favorite dishes you’d like to call out?
That’s like asking which of my children do I love best. So my answer is all of them.
After three successful cookbooks in the last six years, what else is on the agenda for the restaurant team?
We’re busy opening restaurants in our new Nordstrom stores while developing a new concept for 2011. We’re also working on a portfolio of new retail food items—everything from soups and sauces to olive-oil dipping spreads and signature chocolates. By the holidays, you can expect to see a number of new items for sale in our restaurants and, for the first time, online as well.