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The Future Plate: Innovating the Casino Cuisine Experience

Featuring: Christopher Fava, Vice President of Food and Beverage at Yamaava’ Resort & Casino

March 14, 2024


Forget everything you thought you knew about casino dining. The era of predictable buffets and quick snacks is giving way to a revolution, spearheaded by culinary innovators like Christopher Fava. As the Vice President of Food and Beverage at Yaamava' Resort and Casino at San Manuel, Fava isn't just changing the menu; he's reimagining the entire dining experience. With a blend of technology, sustainability and sheer culinary artistry, Fava's approach is a masterclass in innovation. Join us as we explore the journey, strategies and visions that are setting the table for the future of casino cuisine.

A Culinary Odyssey

Christopher Fava's journey from the ground up in the hospitality industry is a testament to the value of every rung on the career ladder. Fava recounts starting as a busser and server, then securing his first supervisor job after graduating college, marking the beginning of a storied career path that would eventually lead him to the helm of food and beverage operations at several prestigious casinos. Fava credits his professional opportunities to the network of mentors he engaged with along his journey. "I was very fortunate to have a lot of great mentors over the years that, as I moved from location to location, called me up saying, ‘Hey, Chris, really enjoyed working with you. Would you be interested in coming here?’” Fava's diverse experiences across various prestigious hotels and casinos have equipped him with a unique perspective on how to elevate the dining experience in a casino environment, blending the excitement of gaming with the sophistication of fine dining.

Redefining Casino Dining

Under Fava's stewardship, Yaamava' Resort and Casino is challenging and transforming the traditional perceptions of casino dining. Moving beyond the expected buffets and quick-service options, Fava is pioneering a dining experience that emphasizes quality, innovation and guest satisfaction. "We're constantly looking at trends... and how we can integrate technology into the dining experience," Fava explains. This approach has led to the creation of dining environments that not only satisfy hunger but also intrigue and delight the senses, making each meal an event in itself. By incorporating elements typically found in high-end restaurants, such as farm-to-table ingredients and chef-driven menus, Fava is setting a new benchmark for what casino guests can expect.

Innovation at the Heart

For Fava, innovation is not just about adopting new technologies but about using them to enhance the guest experience in meaningful ways. The introduction of mobile ordering and payment solutions has revolutionized how guests interact with the casino's dining options, offering convenience and efficiency that complement the excitement of the casino floor. "We have saved 44,000 hours of guest waiting time. Guests are getting to enjoy the games on the floor instead of waiting in a line, ordering and then waiting for the food to be prepared," he notes, highlighting the significant impact of these technological advancements in enhancing the overarching customer experience. This strategic embrace of technology has not only streamlined operations but also provided valuable data that informs menu development, marketing strategies and guest preferences, allowing for a more personalized dining experience.

Sustainability and Local Flavors

Fava's commitment to sustainability extends beyond mere buzzwords to actual practices that impact the menu, the community and the environment. By prioritizing partnerships with local farms and purveyors, Fava ensures that the ingredients used in the casino's kitchens are not only fresh but also sustainably sourced. "We really focus here on our local farms," he states, underscoring the importance of supporting local economies and reducing the environmental footprint of the casino's dining operations. This focus on local flavors not only enhances the quality of the food but also allows guests to experience the unique tastes of the region, adding an extra layer of enjoyment to their dining experience.

Automated Appetites: Tech’s New Flavor in Casino Dining

Looking ahead, Fava sees a significant role for automation in personalizing the dining experience. By integrating technology such as mobile ordering, he's significantly boosting efficiency and tailoring the dining experience to individual preferences. "Mobile utilization accounts for about 30% of all of our revenue now in food and beverage," Fava highlights, reinforcing the impact of these innovations. This strategic embrace of digital solutions not only streamlines operations but also enriches the guest experience, balancing the efficiency of technology with the warmth of traditional hospitality. Fava's approach sets a new standard for the industry, where the future of dining is not just about the food, but how technology can create more memorable and customized experiences.

A Plate of Advice

As we digest the rich insights from Christopher Fava's journey in revolutionizing casino dining, he serves up a dish of advice as your doggy bag for the road ahead in the food and beverage industry. Reflecting on his own path, Fava emphasizes, "Be patient and be a bit more considerate," especially cautioning against the youthful rush that often overlooks the value of gradual growth and the impact of one's actions on colleagues and guests alike. This mindset, he notes, can inadvertently disrupt team dynamics and guest experiences, underlining the importance of mindfulness and patience in leadership. Fava's seasoned counsel reminds us that the recipe for success in the hospitality industry combines not just skill and innovation but also empathy and understanding, ensuring that as we climb the career ladder, we lift others along with us.


Christopher Fava's vision for the future of casino cuisine is a testament to the power of innovation, sustainability and principled leadership. As the culinary landscape continues to evolve, Fava's work at Yaamava' Resort and Casino, and other casinos and hotels, stands as a beacon of what's possible when creativity meets commitment. The future of dining, particularly within the casino sector, is ripe with potential, guided by visionary leaders like Fava.

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