One of the best things about working for Delaware North Companies is it allows me to prepare food in all different kitchens. One week I might be in Yosemite National Park and then the next I might be at the baseball all-star game. There are so many different venues.
Last month, I had the chance to travel to Choctaw Casino in Durant, Oklahoma. While Delaware North operates at several casinos around the U.S., I haven’t worked at them a ton. I’d say the one I’d been at most over my career is Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack in West Virginia.
Regardless, I was impressed with Choctaw Casino. It is an incredible place. I couldn’t believe the offerings the casino has from the perspectives of gaming, lodging and of course, cooking. Honestly, the casino has one of the most useful cooking areas I’ve seen. I was blown away.
The reason I had traveled to Choctaw Casino was to help with its grand opening. Delaware North’s Gaming Hospitality Group is operating all the food and beverage at the casino. Already, the company has unveiled several restaurants and hired a 270-person staff.
As you’d expect, the casino had several events and a huge grand opening celebration planned for the first week. To handle all the cooking, we brought in several of our best chefs to assist. It took an incredible team effort, but we prepared some delicious food for thousands of people over six days. There mouths were watering, as you’d say.
I have a good feeling the people who visit Choctaw Casino will get used to great food. Delaware North’s Executive Chef, Christopher Tunnell, impressed me a great deal. It was the first time I’d worked with him and my initial reaction is that he works very, very hard.
We worked all day and around the clock to prepare the food for the grand opening events. Finally, after the last big party, we wrapped up around midnight. I needed to get sleep to catch my early flight. When I left the kitchen to go to my hotel room, Tunnell was still there. Seven hours later, when I stopped down to grab a quick breakfast, Tunnell was already back and hard at work. I was very impressed.
All in all, I’d call the grand opening at Choctaw Casino a huge success. I look forward to heading back there someday. Hopefully, several of you will all visit there too. It is a beautiful casino. If you do make it there for a visit, don’t forget to check out the kitchen.
Thank you. I’ll blog again soon.
In Good Cooking Always,
Chef Roland Henin, CMC