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Marriott International announces winners of 2023 Masters of the Craft
Marriott International has announced the winners of Masters of the Craft, an annual culinary and beverage competition designed to foster creativity and innovation while highlighting exceptional chefs and bartenders across the Marriott Bonvoy portfolio of hotels in the U.S. and Canada.
Over the past three months, over 1,400 aspiring culinarians and beverage professionals from 176 Marriott Bonvoy properties competed in local and regional Masters of the Craft competitions to prove their prowess through quick-fire cooking and mixology challenges. During the timed, rapid-fire competitions, each contestant was tasked with incorporating a mystery ingredient into a signature dish or cocktail, which was then judged based on technique, creativity and taste.
This year’s championship competition was held at the Food & Beverage Design Lab at Marriott International’s Bethesda, Md., headquarters on Tuesday, September 19, 2023, where six finalists went head-to-head incorporating culinary mystery ingredient maitake mushroom and mixology mystery ingredient extra virgin olive oil in their efforts to take home the winning title. Among those finalists, winners were selected from the respective culinary and beverage competitions, including:
Culinary Competition Winner
Kandice Symister – Second cook, Moana Surfrider, A Westin Resort & Spa, Waikiki Beach
Kandice began her career at Marriott in July 2003 and since then, has worked in almost every kitchen position. Influenced by her mother, Kandice aspires to be Chef de Cuisine so she can create her own menu. Her winning dish was a hoisin-marinated rack of lamb with a mushroom broth, fried maitake mushrooms and infused orange king trumpet mushrooms.
Beverage Competition Winner
Mitchell Patmagrian – bartender, The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes
A former chef, Mitchell joined The Ritz-Carlton family eight years ago, which is where he developed a strong interest in mixology before becoming a professional bartender. An avid gardener, he’s known for infusing his culinary palette into his beverage creations. Mitchell’s winning cocktail, “Back to Front Flip,” was a rich and creamy take on a bitter rum flip, including lemon juice, olive oil and amaro.
In addition to winning the 2023 Masters of the Craft Championship title, winners were awarded educational experiences aimed at enhancing their culinary abilities and supporting their professional journey. Beverage champion Mitchell Patmagrian received an all-expenses paid trip and the opportunity to participate in Tales of the Cocktail, an annual drinks meeting in New Orleans, LA that allows industry professionals to exchange new ideas, products, and techniques—while culinary winner Kandice Symister received a complimentary trip to Grits, Gullah and the Three O’clock Dinner. An immersive culinary experience in Charleston, S.C. that allows participants to discover the secrets of crafting southern favourites like grits, biscuits and the perfect pitcher of sweet tea.
“Our Masters of the Craft culinary and beverage competition provides a platform for our chefs and bartenders to showcase their passion and talents—it’s an event we look forward to hosting every year,” says Matthew Von Ertfelda, senior vice president, food + beverage, Global, U.S. and Canada Operations at Marriott International. “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 the exciting food and beverage career paths available at Marriott.”
The final competition featured notable judges including Marriott International president and chief executive officer, Anthony Capuano, and Marriott International’s executive vice president and chief customer officer, Peggy Roe. David Marriott, chairman of the board, was in attendance to announce the winners from the respective culinary and beverage competitions.
Marriott is committed to making a positive and sustainable impact across the Marriott Bonvoy portfolio of 31 hotel brands, an intention fully realized through the company’s sustainability and social impact platform, Serve 360, which puts the core value of “Serve Our World” into action.