Hospitality Expert Turns Consultant
After working in the hospitality industry for more than 20 years, Dante Camara wants to share his knowledge and experiences ― which stretch from local establishments to world-renowned restaurants.
To do this, he launched Inferno Hospitality in June, offering consulting in areas that include business solutions, merchandising, human resources, public relations, quality assurance, restaurant openings, revenue management and recruiting services.
But at the core of all of this, what Inferno really aims to do is help other organizations achieve their dreams.
For Camara, launching Inferno has been his dream.
“People have said to me, ‘Dante, you should do your own thing,'” he says. “So instead of having that ‘should have, could have, would have,’ I’m doing it.”
Inferno Hospitality marks the culmination of a lifetime in the hospitality industry. After studying culinary arts and food service management at Johnson & Wales University in Rhode Island, he landed a job at Four Seasons Hotel in Boston, where he served as a waiter in the lobby lounge. Before long, he was promoted to the assistant maitre d’ of the fine dining room. From there, he went on to work under acclaimed restauranteurs, including Rocco DiSpirito and Daniel Boulud in New York City.
But, as Camara sees it, he really grew up in the business. As a kid in Honolulu, he was constantly attending family gatherings. And with a huge extended family ― his mother has 16 brothers and sisters ― there were a lot of them.
“There was always a weekend event to go to,” he recalls. “You pick up the phone, and one of the aunties was always doing something. There was no shortage of parties, or barbecues or dinners.
“Hospitality and family entertainment is what I grew up with ― it’s part of my DNA,” he adds.
It was through these gatherings that he learned the meaning and value of aloha spirit ― which he says is an
imperative part of any business venture in the hospitality industry.
“For me, (the aloha spirit) is an emotional connection to Hawaii ― the land, the people, the weather. I am touched every day when I see people who embody that and see it working.”
Entering hospitality was simply an extension of the sort of thing he had been doing all of his life.
After being away from Honolulu for 25 years, Camara came back five years ago when his father was ill.
“I thought this was maybe the universe giving me a sign to come home,” he says. “It has been really wonderful to reconnect not only with my family but to come back and be in Hawaii and be a part of just this amazing renaissance that Honolulu is going through.”
Back in the Islands, Camara was general manager of Hoku’s restaurant in The Kahala Hotel and Resort before starting Inferno Hospitality. At Hoku’s, he was responsible for event organizing and running the restaurant’s wine list.
With Inferno, Camara works with a range of clients ― including established companies and those just starting out ― that have diverse needs, whether they want to change their offerings, revamp operations or rebrand their image.
His approach to business is treating it like a restaurant menu.
“When you go into a restaurant, you might say, ‘I am not that hungry, so I am just going to have an appetizer,’ or, ‘I will have an entree and then I will have a dessert,'” he says. “So we think about all of these services and find what is really specific to your needs.”
One thing that is really important to Camara is “to retain what is aloha and what is ohana and emulating that in what we do.”
This type of hospitality, he feels, is even more important these days.
“You hear a lot about how between all our technology and all of our social media, there is a little bit of a disconnect,” he says. “People are so busy … but you lose that sense of connectivity. And if you really think about why you go out to a restaurant, why you go to a bar ―
it’s that sense of connection. I think that is getting a little bit lost in translation.”
For more information, call 721-6466 or visit infernohospitality.com.