A Legacy of Hospitality

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LBM_51_QA_Hotel Laguna_Heinz_By Jody Tiongco-21

On the heels of his election to a prestigious position with an international food and wine society, 
Heinz Hofmann is ready to take on the world—starting with Laguna Beach.

By Bria Balliet

 

Heinz Hofmann is what anyone would 
consider to be a busy man. For the past three years, he’s served as the chief operating officer for Hotel Laguna—a position he took on after the passing of his very close friend, Claes Andersen, who had owned the establishment since 1985. Striving to carry on Claes’ legacy, Heinz oversees all day-to-day operations of the bustling downtown business in addition to formulating plans for its future.

For most people, this responsibility alone would be enough—but not for Heinz. He’s also a longtime member of the esteemed Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, the world’s largest and oldest international food and wine society. The organization’s objective is to promote excellence in the hospitality arts, connecting chefs, restaurateurs, hoteliers, sommeliers, winery owners, educators and gourmets for events, competitions and scholarship programs. In the summer of 2014, Heinz was elected to the position of chancelier national (vice president) for the United States.

We sat down with the Swiss native to discuss his new position with the Chaîne, and how Laguna Beach fits into his ever-expanding world.

 

Laguna Beach Magazine: Congratulations on your recent appointment as the Chaîne’s chancelier national. What are you most looking forward to as you settle into your new role?

Heinz Hofmann: The travel with the Chaîne always allows me to meet new people and … to meet new cultures. … By meeting people of different cultures and listening to them and hearing their points of view, I believe it broadens my horizons. … Besides enjoying good food and wines and each other’s company, we have a foundation where we give away millions [of dollars] every year to scholarships for young culinary students and young oenology students. … We don’t talk very much about that, but that’s the main function of why we are together.

 

Heinz Hofmann _DSC8408
Heinz (left), COO of Hotel Laguna, serves as chancelier national for the Chaîne, a food and wine society.

LBM: What new responsibilities have you taken on with the chancelier position?

HH: Societies like [the Chaîne] are in danger of dying because it’s difficult for us to find younger generations to get excited about what the older generations are excited about. … My primary responsibility is actually membership. It’s to make sure that our membership grows and that our local presidents have the tools to help their membership grow.

 

LBM: As someone with so much experience with high-quality food and wine, can you share a few of your favorite places to grab a bite in Laguna Beach?

HH: I work about 10 to 11 hours a day when I’m here, and I don’t really go out all that often. [But] I like Selanne; I like 230 Forest; I like Watermarc. I love the local restaurants that I can just walk into. … I am, interestingly enough, more attracted to good, savory food than the high-dollar [places].

 

LBM: How do you apply what you’ve learned overseas to your work at Hotel Laguna?

HH: What I’ve brought to this hotel is really more my knowledge from the hospitality industry. … My knowledge with being able to adapt quickly and to see what’s going on and go after what I call the low-hanging fruit. … My experiences from [my travels] and other cultures have taught me how to do this well without being abrasive, dictatorial or micromanaging.

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