Questions for Executive Chef Ripperger

bio-img-markusRecently, we sat down with our Executive Chef Markus Ripperger, who has been with the Hampshire House since 1992. Trained in culinary arts in his native Zurich, Switzerland, Markus went on to make a name for himself at the famed Restaurant L’Oasis in La Napoule, France.  He then joined the Savoy Hotel and Grosvenor House in London before earning his stripes in Boston, where he presided over the dining rooms at the Colonnade Hotel, the Sheraton Boston Hotel and Swissotel.

Q: You have a broad culinary background. How do you tailor menus to suit Hampshire House’s historic setting?

A: Hampshire House is historically Bostonian. While constantly looking for new ideas, I still look back to traditional cooking methods, as well as cuisine that dates back all the way to the Middle Ages. Drawing from multiple time periods can lend to a timeless menu. Like our Swiss chocolate soup that dates back to the 1800s.

Q: In the same vein, how do you draw from Boston’s distinctive food culture in your creations?

A: Boston is very much a melting pot of cultures and culinary styles, sampling from those adds intrigue to most menus and dishes. One thing that has become apparent about Boston, especially over the last few years, is its culture of innovation. Bostonians are apt to try new things and experiment with new flavors, always in an effort to expand their knowledge. That said, drawing from Boston’s culture is very similar to drawing from world cultures.

Q: What are some of the ways you incorporate seasonal ingredients into your dishes?

A: Growing up in Zurich, there was a greater importance placed on eating seasonally as opposed to having summer crops in the dead of winter. With the farm-to-table movement and the growing number of small farmers in the Boston area, people are now more than ever interested in cooking and eating seasonally. We work with multiple rooftop farms to source seasonally available ingredients in our dishes. Growing herbs and vegetables on our own rooftops connects us even closer with our food and its sources.

Q: What are some of the Hampshire House’s most popular dishes, and how did you develop them?

A: Everyone has their favorite meal. I work closely with our clients to best determine their needs when creating event menus. We can customize dishes to a client’s taste to make them more enjoyable for the client and their guests.

Q: What is your guiding principle as a chef?

A: Preparing a meal is sharing a gift with those who partake in it. It is creating a memorable experience, exceeding expectations, celebrating life, love, and good health with food.

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Wedding Photography Trends: Drones

Why take wedding photos the old-fashioned way (from Earth) when you can get a bird’s-eye view that captures the scene from up above? Since drones have evolved from high-tech military accessories to affordable, camera-equipped personal electronic devices available to most consumers, photographers have come up with many new and unique ways to use them. Drone wedding photos are a great way to capture your special day through video and still photos.

Aerial wedding photos are particularly valuable if your wedding is set someplace that’s unique in nature or architecture, like on a historic property or in an expansive park. Though you might not expect it, modern-day drones can provide an aerial perspective that’s vivid enough to capture precise details like table settings and ceremony decorations. Drone wedding photography is especially useful for capturing the big-picture special moments — like your post-ceremony exit (the view of in-flight rose petals or rice is really quite astounding from above) or first dance.

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Around the City: Fenway Park

On this Opening Day 2015, we wanted to highlight the iconic Fenway Park. Even the most diehard Yankees fans agree that Fenway Park is something of a sports-related holy site. This century-old ballpark has been the home of the Boston Red Sox since its opening in 1912 and has since hosted 10 World Series, with the Red Sox winning five of them. Due to its challenging position at the center of Boston’s Fenway-Kenmore neighborhood, Fenway Park is one of the smallest Major League Baseball fields, with a seating capacity of just 37,500 (compare that to the largest — Dodger Stadium — which holds 56,000 fans).

Still, Fenway Park has a lot to offer first-timers and seasoned season ticket holders. The Lone Red Seat, for example, is just one reminder of the stadium’s rich sports history. This red-painted chair, located in the right field bleachers, marks the stadium’s longest home run, a 502-foot long clobber hit by Ted Williams in 1946. Fenway Park is also home to the Fenway Frank, a Piccalilli-topped, steamed hot dog that’s long been known as a hometown favorite, and a 60-foot tall landmark Citgo sign that has become a Red Sox good luck charm. This legendary Major League stadium is just one of Boston’s many charming, historic landmarks.

Photo Credit: KWDesigns via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: KWDesigns via Compfight cc
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Mother’s Day Brunch at the Hampshire House

mixed-berries-lg

 

Give mom the Mother’s Day gift she deserves with a three-course prix fixe brunch set within the Hampshire House — our inviting Georgian revival townhouse at the center of historic Beacon Hill. Hampshire House’s lavish interior décor, fitted with Italian marble and Palladian windows that overlook the breathtaking Boston Public Garden, will inspire and impress moms with an eye for the exquisite.

Our Mother’s Day brunch menu includes seasonally inspired main dishes like wood-grilled lamb chops and herb-crusted salmon, flanked by your choice of light and palatable starters and the Hampshire House’s indulgent chocolate trilogy. A full bar is available for tasting our popular bloody marys, mimosas or screwdrivers. This spectacular Boston Mother’s Day brunch will take place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Mother’s Day — Sunday, May 10. The cost is $55 per person and does not include the cost of tax, gratuity and beverages. Call 617-227-9600 to make reservations.

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Checking it Twice: Tips and Useful Tools for Your Event Checklists

Keeping organized is an important part of hosting any event — whether it is a small-scale corporate retreat or a wedding with a lengthy guest list. These handy apps and programs will help ensure that every element of your affair is accounted for, from RSVPs to itineraries and all the little details in between.

1. Evernote — This essential smartphone app lets you keep tabs on all of your event notes and lists, with an effortless search function and sharing capability that helps ensure that information is well-organized and in the right hands.

2. Microsoft Excel – It may seem obvious, but any event-planner should be savvy enough to take advantage of Excel’s most useful features. This software is a must-have for budget-keeping (the automatic calculations a real life-saver) and organizing names and addresses.

3. Dropbox — Dropbox is a great tool to use if you have event-related documents, like photo slideshows, PowerPoint presentations and other materials that you need to be able to access from the venue. Forget the flash drive and streamline your materials with Dropbox.

4. Tempo Smart Calendar — Up your scheduling capabilities with a smartphone calendar that does more than just keep appointments. This app lets you create detailed daily schedules — minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour — while integrating additional features like maps, Gmail and iPhone-compatible contacts and helpful reminders and alerts.

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Five Questions to Ask Your Caterer

  1. What do you provide?

Get the details on exactly what your caterer will bring. Some services provide everything, from food to tables and chairs, linens and silverware. Figure out what the caterer provides and what you’ll need to supply yourself.

  1. Do you have other events booked on the same day?

Don’t commit to a catering company that has indicated that they have other events on the same day as your wedding. You’ll want a fully devoted staff that’s focused on your event and guests.

  1. What kind of equipment will you need?

This one is especially important if you’re having an outdoor wedding or a reception someplace that doesn’t have a traditional kitchen. Make sure your caterer can bring the proper equipment for preparing and serving anywhere, if necessary.

  1. Can you bake my wedding cake (or dessert)?

Sometimes, adding your wedding cake or dessert onto the catering budget can save you money and time. Ask the caterer to cut and serve the cake, as well.

  1. Will you allow me to customize my menu?

Many brides and grooms opt to add personalized flavor to their wedding menu, so make sure your caterer is open to this if it’s something you desire.

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Around the City: Boston Public Garden

Photo Credit: David Paul Ohmer via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: David Paul Ohmer via Compfight cc

In our Around the City posts, we’ll explore both popular and lesser-known areas of the city sure to be enjoyed by locals and tourists alike. Enjoy!

A morning or afternoon stroll through the Boston Public Garden gives visitors the chance to reflect and relax in an environment that’s been inspiring residents, visitors and botanists for more than a century.

As the first public botanical garden in America, Boston Public Garden offers 24 acres of exotic and unusual plants set amongst strolling pathways and aquatic inlets. Visitors will enjoy interacting with the garden’s most famous residents — a pair of mute swans named Romeo and Juliet.

The garden’s Boston skyline backdrop gives its distinctive features — its enchanting Swan Boats, bronze George Washington statue and a handful of calming fountains — a sense of urban grounding.

The Public Garden was designed by George F. Meacham in 1837. With Boston Common, the Public Garden forms the northern portion of the city’s Emerald Necklace. The Victorian garden showcases a huge assortment of planting techniques that have been done in the Victorians’ trademark spirit.

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Easter Brunch at the Hampshire House

Garden-Oasis-Drink-Display-HHHampshire House invites families to come and enjoy a three-course Easter brunch set within our historic Beacon Hill mansion on Easter Sunday. A seasonally inspired prix fixe menu will take you on a culinary journey through the fresh and flavorful — beginning with French and New England favorites like lobster bisque and clam chowder and finishing on a high note with Hampshire House’s decadent chocolate trilogy. You choose from 10 main courses ranging from brunch-hour staples like eggs benedict and stuffed French toast to heartier options like beef tenderloin medallions and herb-crusted salmon.

There’s no better Boston Easter brunch for those with an appetite for perfection. Hampshire House will also have a full-service bar available to customers, so be sure to try one of our popular bloody marys. The Easter brunch is open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday, April 5. The Cost is $55 per person excluding tax, gratuity and beverages. Please call 617-227-9600 to make reservations.

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The Benefits of Off-Site Corporate Meetings

Hampshire House Corporate Meeting
The Thayer Room on the 3rd Floor of the Hampshire House

It may seem obvious, but hosting your corporate meeting off-site can help motivate and energize employees at all levels. According to the Harvard Business Review, “a successful off-site can align executives, galvanize corporate performance and strengthen the company’s position in its industry.”

Off-site corporate meetings can be planned to address large-scale company questions — like a specific company’s plan for future growth — as well as to encourage smaller scale company agendas, like boosting employee morale and strengthening individual department functions. No matter your business’ specific goals, an off-site corporate meeting can be used as a powerful tool to help strengthen your company from the ground up.

Here are some more benefits of hosting your corporate meeting off-site:

> A focused group creates focused results. Inviting a limited number of core participants means that you get strategic conversation that yields thoughtful responses and effective results.

> Actual questions get actual answers. Setting aside time for an off-site corporate meeting that has been planned ahead gives participants the time they need to gather data and do research that will contribute to the conversation.

> Fewer distractions mean higher productivity. Executives and employees who have stepped away from their daily responsibilities — ringing phones, excessive e-mails, etc. — get the opportunity to focus solely on the company’s future or the meeting’s objective.

> Off-sites build team morale. Taking team members out of their typical environment forces them to interact in new ways with their co-workers. Off-site meetings allow for face-to-face conversation in an environment that’s less stressful than the office.

The reason for why off-site meetings are exceptionally productive is simple. An inspiring environment elicits inspiring results. A mediocre backdrop for brainstorming is just that. Having your off-site meeting somewhere that’s forward-thinking, refreshing and stimulating will help team members get reengaged with their employers.

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Three Questions to Ask Your Wedding Photographer

Before your big day, you want to make sure that your wedding photographer is prepared to help you achieve your specific wedding day vision. Use this guide to ensure that all of your questions are kept in mind beforehand.

1. Can I see your portfolio?

Ask your wedding photographer upfront about their shooting style and request to see a physical portfolio. This way, you’ll be able to see how his or her photos translate to print. If your photographer leans more photojournalistic, you can expect wedding candids and fewer touch-ups. If he or she has been inspired by the fine arts, you’ll probably get more conceptual or abstract photos.

2. What kind of experience do you have?

A seasoned wedding photographer will have a better idea of what brides and grooms generally want. They’ll know to capture both big-picture subject matter (walking down the aisle and the first dance) as well as minuter wedding day details (table settings and getting ready). But less experienced photographers may have something to offer, too — like a lower price point or a less hectic schedule.

3. What happens if you can’t make it?

If your wedding photographer becomes ill or can’t make your date for some reason, you’ll want to make sure he or she has a reliable backup. Before signing a contract, ensure that your photographer has someone just as skilled to act as the understudy.

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