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Meet Sean MacAlpine of City Table, City Bar, Solas, and Lenox Hotel in Back Bay

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sean MacAlpine.

Sean, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I started cooking at 18 while working on a passenger schooner out of Mystic Connecticut.

When the ship’s cook was off duty I would fill in for her. We would take passengers on 3-7 day cruises around Long Island Sound and as far as the vineyard and Nantucket. I bounced around the country after this working in the Florida Keys as a deckhand and did a stint for the National Park Service in the Mojave Desert (weird I know). At 21, I landed a restaurant job with my brother at Five-0 Shore Road in Ogunquit, Maine.

After a year there I moved back to my hometown of Concord Massachusetts and took on a job as the opening Dinner Chef at Main Street Café. About a year later I realized that I missed being on the water and applied for a Job on a 1917 classic Schooner in Genoa, Italy. The captain hired me on and two weeks later I was on a plane heading to Genoa.

The schooner was and is owned by an Italian count who would determine our cruising destinations. We sailed the entire west coast of Italy, the South of France, Barcelona and wintered in Mallorca. After 15 months on board the Schooner, I decided to return to the States.

Within a few weeks of being home, I met Robert Fathman (then chef at the Lenox) at an open mic night in Lynn where I was performing with a member of the band I was in at the time. We talked a bit and I let him know that if he was hiring I’d be interested in a position. A few weeks later I got the call and came on board as a line cook at Azure restaurant. I worked my way up the ranks and am now the Executive Chef at the Lenox Hotel.

Has it been a smooth road?
It has been a surprisingly smooth road getting to where I am. There have been challenges and difficulties, but overall things have come together nicely and I’m incredibly happy to be in the position I am in today.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the City Table, City Bar, Solas, and Lenox Hotel story. Tell us more about the business.
As the Executive Chef at the Lenox and one of the many chefs for the Briar Group family of restaurants, there is a lot going on. My responsibilities at the Lenox include three different restaurants, all banquets, weddings, corporate and social events, in-room dining, and employee cafeteria. I have a staff of 36 kitchen employees and there is never a dull moment.

The thing that I(we) specialize in the most is keeping our guests and employees happy and engaged. It is paramount to us that each guest in our restaurants or events space leaves with a happy memory of their experience with us. Perhaps what sets me apart is that I inject that into everything that I do. Also, we strive to keep a pleasant and fun working environment for all of our employees.

The thing I am most proud of as a company is the incredible growth of the Briar Group.

When I joined the team at the Lenox we were operating four restaurants in the city. We have now expanded to 14 different restaurant concepts in the Boston area.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
Preparing our meals with fresh, locally sourced ingredients is still a big draw for our guests. Craft beer continues to be a large trend, and we’ve seen a huge response for our Local Beers & Bites series – each week, we pick a local craft beer and I prepare a small bite that pairs well with it. I think the family style trend for events and sharing plates will continue to grow in popularity.

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