Buon Appetito! Getting to Know the New V.P. of F&B Vincent Turrano

In Seminole Hard Rock Tampa’s ongoing quest to elevate our amenity offerings, a new executive has been appointed to lead one of the largest departments at the property. Vincent Turrano has more than 31 years of experience in all aspects of casino food and beverage management and was previously the Director of Food & Beverage at Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City, N.J.

Vincent possesses extensive experience in developing and opening celebrity chef restaurants. While at Borgata, he maintained relationships with four celebrity chef– Wolfgang Puck, Bobby Flay, Geoffrey Zakarian and Michael Schulson. We sat down with him to get the latest details on his new culinary adventure at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa:

What inspired you to break into the F&B industry?
I grew up Italian so I was always in the kitchen with my mother. Although I wasn’t formally trained as a chef, some people refer to me as Chef at the other properties I worked at because I love to cook. I was never really intrigued with the food and beverage industry until I stumbled upon it. I actually went to school to be an electrician at Pennsylvania School of Technology. I graduated in 1982, but the economy was in bad shape. There were not a lot of jobs around so I went to Atlantic City because they were hiring electricians to build the casinos. In those days when you were working in construction, they laid you off from time to time because we weren’t always needed. During one of these periods where I was laid off I ran into a friend of mine from high school who told me they were hiring bus boys at Resorts International. So I took a job as a bus boy when I was 20 and did that for about a month. I was then promoted to a server and from a server I made it to the Captain of Room Service, which is similar to a butler. They didn’t have butlers back then. I started out working with all of the high end players and entertainers and I served customers such as Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis and all of the Rat Pack. That’s really what got me intrigued by the whole business. I found it to be exciting and it was never the same, so I stuck with it and never went back to being an electrician. This September will be 32 years I’ve worked in the casino industry.

What has the transition from New Jersey to Florida been like for you?
I’m just trying to settle in and get acclimated to the property. The casino portion of it doesn’t seem any different to me than it did in Atlantic City. I’m getting to know the players here and how things operate, but it feels similar. I don’t feel like I’ve skipped a beat.

What do you like best about SHRT?
The people have been very nice. When I came here during my interview process no one knew who I was, yet I still received really phenomenal service. Everywhere I went everyone was friendly.

What do you see changing in the F&B department for the future?
I think refining how we do things, providing a better customer experience overall. For the most part, it’s a solid department and service is great, but there is always room for improvement. There are just little tweaks here and there that we need to do, some of which we’ve already started. For example, we are revamping the reservation system in Council Oaks Steak & Seafood to make it a more seamless process.

How many employees do your currently oversee at SHRT?

Out of the seven restaurants on property, which one is your favorite and why? They are all exceptional, however Rock N’ Raw because I don’t eat carbohydrates. I’m a big sashimi eater. Being Italian it’s not easy, but I fight the urge. (Smirk).

What are some of your goals for SHRT F&B department?
My goal is to create a cohesive team because that’s what I like to do. I’m hands on. I’m somebody that takes time to go behind the line and talk to the cooks; I’ll still always put on the white coat and be involved in the kitchen and butchering meat. I like being everywhere in the food and beverage operation.