A Taste of Hilton with Hilton Columbus Downtown’s Executive Chef of Restaurants Sebastian La Rocca

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Hilton Hotels & Resorts | April 04, 2024

Chef Sebastian offers a glimpse into his time in the Bon Appétit Kitchen

© 2024 Hilton

For Hilton Columbus Downtown’s Executive Chef of Restaurants Sebastian La Rocca –  ‘Food is Culture’ – and on a chilly New York City day in early spring, a group of Hilton Honors members came together for a one-of-a-kind experience to swap stories and share a meal gathered around an intimate dining table at the offices of Bon Appétit magazine. Exclusive for Hilton Honors members, Chef Sebastian, who was assisted by Chef Todd Goodwin, prepared a multi-course meal taking diners on a culinary journey of Latin American cuisine with a touch of fire and smoke throughout showcasing techniques and elements of his team’s award-winning restaurant, FYR Short North. A Columbus favorite, the restaurant has further positioned the city as one of the Midwest’s rising food cities, and the restaurant celebrates the glow of the hearth, where 90 percent of the menu is cooked over an open flame.

A Taste of Hilton Event at Bon Appétit Kitchen (L-R): Chef Todd Goodwin and Chef Sebastian La Rocca – Photo Credit: Sean Sime | © 2024 Hilton

The experience was offered on the Hilton Honors Experiences platform, one of the many ways Hilton is offering money-can’t-buy experiences to loyalty members, where they can use their Points to fuel their passions. Diners were joined by two prominent magazine editors, Shilpa Uskokovic and Kendra Vaculin, and offered a sneak peek at the Bon Appétit Kitchen, while learning how the magazine’s recipe editors find inspiration in everyday and source ingredients from around the world. After a glimpse into the Bon Appétit Kitchen, diners were guided into the expertly-curated Taste of Hilton experience.

A Taste of Hilton Event at Bon Appétit Kitchen
(L-R in left photo): Chef Todd Goodwin, Chef Sebastian La Rocca, Kendra Vaculin and Shilpa Uskokovic
| Photo Credit: Sean Sime

While they couldn’t bring the physical flames of FYR Short North to downtown Manhattan, Chef Sebastian and Chef Todd were able to infuse fire and smoke techniques into the multi-course meal for diners. The menu incorporated elements of Chef Sebastian’s Argentinian technique, complemented by Latin American flavors with chef providing an overview of the concept and inspiration for each dish with guests.

Guests were greeted with a selection of canapes, inclusive of Chilled Roasted Tomato with panela honey, goat cheese, charred shallots, sumac, and basil – a FYR Short North signature; Oysters with a bright passionfruit mignonette, salmon roe and cilantro; Salmon Ceviche with coconut milk, burnt cucumber, ginger, habanero chili, red onion, pecan nuts and cilantro; and savory Beef Tartar on Focaccia bread with capers, peppers, grain mustard and roasted eggplant.

Chef Sebastian La Rocca’s Chilled Roasted Tomato | Photo Credit: Sean Sime

Cured Duck Breast | Photo Credit: Sean Sime

A Taste of Hilton Event at Bon Appetit Kitchen Scallop Crudo | Photo-Credit: Sean Sime

The three-course menu started with delicately-plated Scallop Crudo with ember cooked bell peppers, fennel pollen, and red sorrel, complete with a tableside pour of tomato aguachile. For the main, guests were treated to a specialty Cured Duck Breast, served alongside Chef Sebastian’s famous cheese potato fondue, criolla sauce and nasturtium. Dessert was the grand finale and inspired by chef’s childhood memories of being in his grandmother’s cornfields with his Open Sweet Corn and Banana Tamal, featuring cocoa nibs, chocolate soil, cinnamon honey, toasted Cajun nuts, and micro basil.

A Taste of Hilton Event at Bon Appétit Kitchen – Cocktails | Photo Credit: Sean Sime

Two specialty drinks were curated for the event from FYR Short North’s Beverage Director Rustun Nichols. The Chef de Tournade was the featured cocktail, including tequila, mezcal, banana liqueur and agave syrup, while the signature mocktail, the Gran Chaco, featured Giffard Aperitif Syrup, agave, pineapple and brown raw sugar.

“Cooking in the Bon Appétit kitchen was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience and being able to prepare a meal exclusively for our Hilton Honors members alongside some of the magazine’s editorial team is something I’ll carry with me forever.”

“Cooking in the Bon Appétit kitchen was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience and being able to prepare a meal exclusively for our Hilton Honors members alongside some of the magazine’s editorial team is something I’ll carry with me forever,” said Chef Sebastian. “It was a privilege to share a taste of my heritage, culture and inspiration with diners while highlighting the incredible dishes and techniques our talented team at FYR Short North is delivering to the greater Columbus community every day. Columbus is an exciting and emerging culinary destination, and I’m proud to have brought a taste of what we have to offer to the Big Apple.”

Overseeing the restaurants for Ohio’s largest hotel, Chef Sebastian looks after FYR Short North, Stories on High and Spark. A native of Argentina with global expertise, he’s made his own mark on the evolving Columbus food scene. Most recently, Hilton Columbus Downtown’s signature restaurant, FYR Short North, was recognized on USA TODAY’s 2024 Restaurants of the Year list, and Chef Sebastian has garnered several accolades from Columbus publications for the hotel’s restaurants. In 2023, he was also recognized as the Ambassador of Latino Cuisine and Culture in the State of Ohio from the Ohio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Delivering on Argentinian flavors and technique, Chef Sebastian has helped mold a team and deliver on a vision of positioning both the hotel and the destination as a real player in the Midwest food scene.

For more information about Hilton Columbus Downtown, please visit Hilton.com. To join Hilton Honors, visit HiltonHonors.com.