Originally Published by Marriott International.
Marriott International recognized the creative brilliance of Sherene Hutchinson of the Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort and Jonathan Martin Miller of The Phoenician, a Luxury Collection Resort, as 2018’s Masters of the Craft. The two emerged victorious in the final round of the ultimate continent-wide culinary and beverage competition, designed to discover and showcase some of Marriott’s best talent behind its restaurants and bars across North, South and Central America. With its emphasis on developing and promoting culinary talent, Masters of the Craft supports the company’s sustainability and social impact platform, Serve 360, and its commitment to Empower Through Opportunity.
Over the past six months, more than 2,200 employees from 280 Marriott International properties, across all levels of experience and expertise, competed to prove their prowess through quick-fire cooking and bartending challenges. Modeled after Food Network’s hit show, “Chopped,” contestants were presented with a mystery seasonal ingredient during each phase of the competition, which then had to be featured in a signature dish or cocktail within a set time limit.
An all-star lineup of industry experts was on hand to judge the finals, including acclaimed food journalist and cookbook author Mark Bittman (How to Cook Everything, VB6, and more); Food & Wine‘s contributing editor and writer Kate Heddings; sustainable agriculture expert and co-owner of the Chef’s Garden Farmer Lee Jones; Washington, D.C. area food critic David Hagedorn; Beverage Digest Executive Editor Duane Stanford; and master mixologist Gary Hayward of Bacardi. Judges deliberated over finalized dishes and cocktails using the criteria of technique, creativity and taste.
Cooks and bartenders across the U.S. started at individual property competitions, with the subsequent winners moving on to sectional and then regional competitions. On October 23rd, 10 culinary and 10 beverage finalists traveled to Bethesda North Marriott Hotel & Conference Center where they competed against each other to determine the two finalists for each category. The final four contestants competed for the championship titles on Thursday, October 24th at Marriott International’s headquarters, also in Bethesda, Maryland.
“Masters of the Craft started just two years ago as a regional cooking competition in the Midwest and has since expanded in to the category of beverage and across the vast geography of the Americas, from Canada to Chile,” said Dana Pellicano, Vice President of Food & Beverage Experience for the Americas at Marriott International. “I am awestruck at the engagement, momentum and innovation it has gathered in its inaugural year and am moved by competitors’ stories about how much this journey has meant to them both personally and professionally. I was so nervous watching the competitors, but they were calm and collected true creative artisans at the absolute top of their field.”
The winner in the culinary division was Sherene Hutchinson, a Junior Sous Chef from Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort. Using the secret seasonal ingredients of salmon and squash, Hutchinson applied years of culinary experience under the pressure of the 30-minute clock to create a Lemon Pan-Seared Salmon with roasted pumpkin, baby zucchini and gremolata. Originally from the Caribbean, Hutchinson joined the organization eight years ago as a Culinary Trainee after graduating from Culinary Plus International School in Jamaica. career with Marriott International has taken her as far as Doha. She originally joined the organization as a Culinary Trainee after graduating from Culinary Plus International School in Jamaica.
“I am absolutely ecstatic about winning Masters of the Craft Culinary 2018. It was a great honor to be amongst such brilliant minds and talented people in the Industry,” said Hutchinson. “I am even more inspired now as I encourage my team to develop their skills and never stop creating. To return to my kitchen and see my team running excitedly towards me to congratulate me and share their desire to compete in future Masters of the Craft competitions, was the greatest reward thus far and reinforced what it means to work for this company.”
For the beverage division, Jonathan Martin Miller, a bartender at The Phoenician, a Luxury Collection Resort, was crowned the Master of the Craft for his exemplary use of the secret ingredient, pineapple tomatillos. Miller impressed the judges with his creativity and passion for his craft with his winning cocktail, named Miami to LA, using Atlantico aged rum, banana cream, pineapple tomatillos and saffron orgeat. Hailing from Long Beach, CA, he honed his skills crafting drinks in premier cocktail cities including Las Vegas, South Beach, and Hollywood, before joining the team at The Phoenician.
“Winning Marriott’s Masters of the Craft beverage competition was a once in a lifetime, life-changing experience which was only eclipsed by the warm, inspiring and impressive people I met throughout the 5 competition rounds, which culminated with recognition by Mr. Bill Marriott himself,” said Miller.
The two champions of the Masters of the Craft competition won an all-expenses paid culinary or beverage educational experience to further foster their talent and passion for the industry, a three-night stay at a Marriott property of choice, and a custom-made chef’s jacket or bar apron.
The 10 semi-finalists competing in the culinary competition included Andrea McMillian of Westfields Marriott Washington Dulles in Virginia; Rachel Salyers of Gaylord Opryland in Nashville, Tennessee; Phuoc Vo of JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa in California; Carlos Machado Landeiro of JW Marriott Marco Island in Florida; Edwin Antonio Zinn of Coralville Marriott Hotel & Conference Center in Iowa; Colin Sato of The Westin Moana Surfrider in Hawaii; Kevin Tom of The Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco in California; Isaac Arroyo of Sheraton New York Times Square in New York City; Dinesh Priyankara of Calgary Airport Marriott in Canada; and winner Sherene Hutchinson of Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort in the Caribbean.
Beverage semi-finalists included Michael Fernandez of Renaissance Arlington Capital View Hotel in Virginia; Rachad Rad of New Orleans Marriott in Louisiana; Aaron Jordan Price of The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island in Florida; Melissa De Hoyos of Renaissance Dallas in Texas; Jessica Longoria of The Westin Riverwalk, San Antonio in Texas; Kelly Pentecost of Renaissance Schaumburg in Illinois; Bradford Faris of The Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco in California; Scott Lewis of Philadelphia Airport Marriott in Pennsylvania; Raul Antonio Cisneros Sandoval of W Punta de Mita in Mexico; and winner Jonathan Miller Martin of The Phoenician, a Luxury Collection Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Celebrating Marriott’s exceptional talent was Bill Marriott, Executive Chairman of Marriott International, along with Matthew Von Ertfelda, Senior Vice President of Food and Beverage, Global Operations; Dave Grissen, Group President for Marriott International; and Erika Alexander, Chief Lodging Services Officer for Marriott International, The Americas.