Around the World at The Melting PotApril 6, 2011 By: Alissa Ponchione
Traveling the world is often relegated to one’s bucket list – a goal we hope to accomplish, but more often than not, never do. And yet, The Melting Pot, headquartered in Tampa, Fla., figured out a way to give its patrons a world-class adventure without having to stamp their passports with its Big Night Out promotion.
Shane Schaibly, director of food and beverage and head chef at The Melting Pot, creates each Big Night Out Promotion by developing the food first. “One course will catch my attention, and I’ll invest my time into that and then build the wine around it,” he explains. From there, Schaibly works with Jason Stone, senior manager of client services for Mission Viejo, Calif-based sales promotions agency MarkeTeam, Inc., to come up with wine selections that complement the four-course tasting menu (prices vary based on location).
From the Pacific Island to The Alpine Mountain Region to Tuscany, France and the Mediterranean, all regions are represented. Currently, Big Night Out honors Latin America, which is running now until October. On the tasting menu, each course comes with an explanation. For example, the Queso Fundido Cheese Fondue first course is paired with a 3-ounce pour of Portillo Malbec from Argentina; a description indicates that the fondue’s lime juice brings out the velvety tannins and acidity of the Malbec. This promotion also features a specialty drinks menu from Latin America with drinks including Brazilian Blush (VeeV Açaí Spirit, cranberry and lemonade), Raspberry Caipirinha (Leblon Cachaça, raspberry and lime) and Mango Agua Fresca (Bacardi Limón, mango and lime).
Taking on a promotion of this caliber means planning goes on for at least a year. Schaibly and his team research and develop tasting menus, finalizing the ingredients and courses for almost six months, only to then roll out a test in the Tampa Bay location for six months, even before the system-wide launch.
In the next few iterations of Big Night Out, Schaibly is evolving the promotion to encompass all beverages. In October, the American-themed promotion will feature American craft beer flights – a risk that Schaibly is willing to take because he sees the pay-off. “[The promotion] works surprisingly well, and we’re going to keep on trying to profit from it,” he says.
Enlightening guests' palates is rewarding to Shaibly and his team at The Melting Pot. Every six months, when the promotion changes and a new voyage is about to launch, Shaibly provides each store with training materials, which include a detailed DVD where he talks about the food and drink pairings and his inspiration behind each course. “It’s better for the staff to see my passion; it’s more interactive that way,” he says. “It’s a killer deal. The great quality of wine, the great price” and the positive response means guests continue to trust The Melting Pot to take them on an unforgettable culinary journey.