In December I had the unique opportunity to go behind the scenes at the massive and somewhat daunting kitchens of the Marriott Marquis Times Square, the flagship of Marriott Hotels & Resorts. There I met two remarkable individuals and chefs, Executive Chef Armando Monterroso and Executive Pastry Chef Steve Evetts. Chatting with these world-class chefs and tasting their creations wasn’t just fun, it was eye-opening.
In recent years Marriott Hotels & Resorts has completely revamped its properties and with it their philosophy on travel. I was there as part of the Culturazzi series of events in order to experience first hand these changes. The new hotels are modern, fun and engaging and this is perhaps best seen in the food offerings. At the heart of this culinary philosophy is the concept of emotional cuisine. Food is emotional; it evokes strong memories that can instantly transport us around the world in a mere bite. Food can also be comforting, amusing and even puzzling. These are all necessary ingredients in a world class culinary experience and these concepts have shaped everything Marriott has done to offer new and exciting food options for their guests.
More than soundbites, I realized the travel benefits from these changes right away. I was in a world class hotel recently, famous for its location and history. I got there late and was hungry, but nothing in town was open. Dejected I went to the restaurant/bar in the hotel only to find overpriced, stuffy meals on offer. I went to bed hungry that night, disappointed and a little angry. When I stayed at the Marriott Marquis I found myself once again peckish late in the evening and all I wanted was something fast and easy. I was thrilled to find a bustling café serving everything from light bites to full meals and everything in between. The prices were reasonable, the food delicious and I left happy and content that night. Comparing and contrasting my two hotel experiences, my stay at the first hotel was tainted because of something they could easily change, but that’s an all too common refrain in the world of travel and hospitality. Most times it’s the little things that matter most and that attention to detail makes all the difference.
Not only did I talk culinary philosophy with the chefs, but they shared many of their recipes with me. Of the dozens of inspired creations, here are a couple I want to share with you.
Enjoy and happy eating!
Blue Cheese/Honeycomb/Walnut Spoon
4oz Blue Cheese
4oz Fresh Honeycomb
4 ea Walnut Halves
Micro Basil – for garnish
Polish 12 silver spoons. Cut 1/4 oz pieces of your favorite artisan blue cheese and place them on each spoon. Spoon 1/4 oz of the fresh honeycomb alongside the blue cheese. Roughly chop 4 oz of walnuts and place on top of the cheese and honeycomb. Garnish with the micro basil. Fresh minced basil can be substituted if the micro is not available.
Watermelon and Red Sangria Sorbet
Makes 24 sticks
1 small seedless watermelon
1 recipe of red sangria sorbet (see below)
12 lollipop sticks cut in half
Red Sangria Sorbet
1 bottle Red Spanish Wine
2 cans Ginger Ale
1 ea Orange
1 ea Limes
2 tbsp Grand Marnier
2 cups Sugar
Mix the wine, giner ale and squeeze half the orange into the mix, cut the other half in slices and add. Slice 1 lime and add. Cut the other lime and squeeze the juice into the mix. Add 1 cup of the sugar and 1lb of ice. Make a syrup by mixing the other cup of sugar and 1 cup of water in a pan and bring to a boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and cool. Strain the sangria and mix with the syrup. Place the mix into an ice cream maker and follow manufacturer’s instructions.
Using just the red part of the melon cut rectangles 2 inches by 1 inch. Insert one of the lollipop sticks in the end of the melon about half way through. With a hot teaspoon scoop out some of the sorbet and place on top of the watermelon then place them in the freezer for 15 minutes before serving.