Bethesda, Maryland, was recently the place to be for the “Masters of the Craft,” competition. A global group of 1,400 contestants from 176 Marriott International Bonvoy properties in the U.S. and Canada was whittled down to six finalists, three each in culinary and beverage categories.
An exciting but tense event was held in the Food & Beverage Design Lab at Marriott International’s headquarters. The competing culinary and mixology competitors used their creative thinking to incorporate a secret ingredient in the dishes and drinks prepared for consideration.
Two three-person judging panels had the tough assignment of tasting delicious dishes or sipping drinks prepared by the finalists. The secret ingredient for the culinary competitors was an assortment of mushrooms. The beverage finalists had to infuse extra virgin olive oil in their drink concoctions.
Master of the Craft Winners
Top honor in the culinary category was awarded to Kandice Symister, second cook at Moana Surfrider, A Westin Resort & Spa in Waikiki Beach, Hawaii. Symister’s winning dish was a hoisin-marinated rack of lamb with a mushroom broth, fried maitake mushrooms and infused orange king trumpet mushrooms.
The winner in the beverage category was Mitchell Patmagrian, bartender at The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes in Orlando, Florida. Mitchell’s winning cocktail, “Back to Front Flip,” was a rich, creamy take on a bitter rum flip that included lemon juice, olive oil and amaro.
“Our Masters of the Craft culinary and beverage competition provides a platform for our chefs and bartenders to showcase their passion and talents,” said Matthew Von Ertfelda, senior vice president of Food + Beverage in Marriott’s Global, U.S. and Canada Operations. “In addition to giving our associates the ability to sharpen their skills and push their creative boundaries, ‘Masters of the Craft,’ also provides an amazing opportunity to highlight food and beverage career paths available at Marriott.”
Judging Culinary and Beverage Entries
The six judges included Marriott International President and Chief Executive Officer Anthony Capuano, Marriott International’s Executive Vice President and Chief Customer Officer Peggy Roe, and Tanya Holland, executive chef, author, and owner of Brown Sugar Kitchen in Oakland, California. Other judges were David Kaplan, CEO of Gin & Luck, a New York-based hospitality company, Kapri Robinson, founder of Chocolate City’s Best, the world’s first bartender competition for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, people of color) bartenders based in Washington, D.C., and Melissa Kelly, executive chef and proprietor of Primo Restaurant at the JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes in Orlando, Florida.
“Food and beverage are such an important part of the hospitality industry, and innovation is at its core,” said Holland. “I commend Marriott International for their continued efforts to foster creativity among their food and beverage staff and inspire future chefs and bartenders to enter the field.”
In addition to bragging rights as the 2023 Masters of the Craft Championship, both winners were awarded attendance at all-expenses-paid educational events. Patmagrian will participate in “Tales of the Cocktail,” an annual drinks professional development event in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Symister will attend “Grits, Gullah and the Three O’clock Dinner,” an immersive culinary experience in Charleston, South Carolina, emphasizing preparing southern cuisine.
“Our Masters of the Craft culinary and beverage competition is a platform for our chefs and bartenders to showcase their passion and talents. It’s an event we look forward to hosting every year,” said Von Ertfelda.
Source: Washington Informer