MEET T. Cook's General Manager
Royal Palms Resort and Spa, Phoenix's acclaimed luxury resort, is proud to have Christian Giles as the General Manager of the property's renowned restaurant, T. Cook's. Giles brings more than 16 years of experience to his new position at Royal Palms.
"Giles' experience in fine dining establishments and his background in managing destination restaurants is an ideal fit to lead the team at T. Cook's" said Steve Benson, Royal Palms Resort and Spa General Manager. "With our recent launch of brand-new dinner and lounge menus, Giles' knowledge and experience shines at the forefront in explaining our renewed approach to Mediterranean cuisine of offering lighter, more modern dishes to our guests."
Prior to joining Royal Palms, Giles spent the last 16 years as General Manager of Charlie Trotter's in Chicago, one of the country's most well-known culinary landmarks. In his past position, Giles oversaw all facets of the day-to-day operations. Throughout his time at Charlie Trotter's, the restaurant achieved multiple awards including the Mobile Five Star award for the last 15 years, continuous AAA Five Diamond recognitions and multiple accolades from Wine Spectator magazine. Giles and his mentor Charlie Trotter also wrote several books together on what it takes to deliver five-star restaurant service.
Giles' hire will assist with upholding T. Cook's highly acclaimed dining service both locally and nationally and continue the promotion of Royal Palms Resort and Spa as one of more than 30 independent, upscale hotels, resorts and conference centers managed by Destination Hotels & Resorts. In this role, Giles will be responsible for managing the food and beverage staff, costs and day-to-day operations for T. Cook's, while orchestrating and maintaining the exceptional service standards of Royal Palms.
MEET T. Cook's WINE SOMMELIER & MANAGER
Matt is a suspiciously happy guy. Consistently cheerful and energetic, he works long hours, yet is always brimming with enthusiasm. When asked his secret, he replies, "I get to taste wine for a living...and even get paid for it." You've got to envy the guy just a little bit.
Matt has been the Resort Beverage Manager since 2008 and is responsible for everything that gets popped, poured or requires ice, which is plenty. He writes and manages the restaurant and banquet wine lists, runs training seminars for all service staff to impart beverage knowledge and particularly enjoys assisting guests in selecting wines and beverages for events.
Matt joined T. Cook's as a server in 1997 and it could be called a perfect fit. With his endless curiosity regarding fine food and wine, he worked his way up to Restaurant Manager of T. Cook's. Along the way, he collected personal kudos including Manager of the Year and American Hotel & Lodging Association Star of the Industry Nominee. His beverage team has repeatedly earned the AAA Four Diamond Award, the Forbes (formerly Mobil) Travel Guide Four Star Award, and the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence.
One of Matt's secrets to successful management is to encourage his staff to balance professionalism with personality, "because if you are not having fun, then the guest can't be having fun either."
While attending Louisiana State University, Matt started tending bar and enjoyed the energy and the challenge of learning crazy college drinks. Soon he was mixing more traditional cocktails in one of Baton Rouge's oldest fine-dining restaurants, learning Louisiana's famous gracious service firsthand from career servers who had been waiting tables for decades.
Understandably, Matt felt compelled to immerse himself in the restaurant's European wine list and began seriously studying wine books and wine maps. The life changer was a book by Hugh Johnson, Vintage-The Story of Wine. "I came to see wine as an adventure: thousands of years of human culture in every glass. Like food, there is flavor, but there is also history, faith, science and effort."
During his tenure at T. Cook's, he became a Certified Sommelier by the Court of Master Sommeliers and a Certified Specialist of Wine by the Society of Wine Educators. His enthusiasm for learning and for teaching is both insatiable and contagious. "When you dine at T. Cook's, I want you to taste the flavors of the world. I love it when I can take guests from their favorite wine and introduce them to a new flavor, perhaps a new favorite."
After all, according to Matt, "Life is too short to drink the same wine."