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Spa Bites

Barbara Revsine / November 2012

Chicago—What do you eat après massage? If you’re at NoMI Spa in the Park Hyatt Chicago, the edible finale is an integral part of the overall spa experience.

“It’s a holistic approach,” spa manager Rachael McCrory explains, “a logical next step in the evolution of a singular NoMI brand rooted in the belief that everything we eat—or come in contact with—is either beneficial or detrimental.”

Brand development was a motivating factor in the Park Hyatt’s recent renovation of its seventh floor lounge, spa, and NoMI restaurant. While the hotel’s designation as a luxury property with an elegant on-site restaurant is unchanged, the decor and overall ambience are more approachable.

NoMI has morphed into NoMI Kitchen, a restaurant that executive chef Ryan LaRoche characterizes as “intent on redefining fine dining.” Management of the spa, which had been outsourced prior to the revamp, was moved in-house. A complete face-lift came next, followed by a name shift to NoMI Spa to emphasize the link to the restaurant. To further strengthen the connection, LaRoche and McCrory developed a series of complimentary small bites designed to be served at the conclusion of a spa visit.

They began by analyzing the natural healing qualities of various spices and then paired them with the desired effects of each of the spa services. Recipe development came next, followed by the selection of an herbal tea to serve with the amuse.

So what do you eat après massage? Typical of the mix are the petite servings of grapefruit and avocado enhanced with ginger, sea salt and allspice and the cucumber jelly paired with yogurt and seasoned with dill, sea salt, and coriander on NoMI Spa’s debut menu. Black Orchid tea perfumed with orange oil and vanilla essence was served with the first, a mix of chamomile flower and spearmint leaf, aptly named Soothe, with the second.

Or, you can end with a mini serving of melon mixed with honey, sea salt, and nutmeg, a spice known to have a positive effect on the heart and nervous system. For the accompaniment, there’s an appropriately sized cup of tea made with ginkgo, peppermint and stevia leaves, as well as eleuthero, sarsaparilla, and dandelion roots. Sipping the tea—with every muscle in your body still in relax mode—the hustle of the outside world seems light years away.