DNC Family Christmas Dinner 2010.

December 30, 2010

This is a fun poem that describes our team’s efforts at Yosemite. Emily Brosk deserves the credit for writing it. Thank you Emily.

T’was 2 days before Christmas and the Curry kitchen was a glow!!

Chefs in white coats working hard, inside and away from the snow.

Preparing a feast to remember for the biggest family ever

Which just happened to be no small endeavor.

Without a head chef, the crew needed direction

And thanks to Dan Cornforth they achieved perfection!

Over 500 people sat down as a whole

Attempting to try everything, especially a roll

Enjoying the company of family and friends

This was the perfect time to hug and make amends!

We feasted on turkey and gravy, prime rib with au jus.

There were even vegan stuffed bell peppers, which was enough for two!

Mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, and veggies galore

We had so many desserts we had to store them next door!

A big special thanks to the folks who put it together

Braving winter conditions and icy cold weather

Cheers to the team from Curry Village and Employee Recreation

I think we all deserve a paid vacation!!

Everyone was touched and everyone agrees

Our  DNC Family is the bee’s knees!!



What A Week

December 29, 2010

I have asked the chefs who recently completed their Pro Chef Level II Certification exams to share their thoughts and memories on the long process. Below are Chef Richard Mathis’ thoughts.

What a week.

From the moment I walked up the driveway of the beautiful CIA Greystone campus, I knew that I was in for quite a week…too late to be nervous at this point. The time is now to make things happen.

Everything that had been drilled into our heads by Chef Roland Henin had started to click. This challenge is not something you can study or practice for at the last minute… it takes years and years of hard work and dedication to the culinary craft. The last few months have been focused into a few specific areas of study which, on top of running our daily operations, proved to be quite a challenge to give proper attention toward.

I think the biggest challenges overall would have to be the timing of everything. There were four cooking practicals and seven written exams in a four-day period that saw us hop back and forth from Garde Manger preparation to Mediterranean written tests to a nutritional cooking practical, etc… At this point, if you’re not ready —- YOU’RE NOT READY.

Without the persistence and dedication of Delaware North’s corporate and regional chefs, the outcome could have been very different. Chef Henin and Chef Kevin Doherty have provided countless hours of support throughout the training process and to that I owe my gratitude. I have never worked for a company so dedicated to the professional development of its culinary staff.

As the other chefs have said, the instructors were fair, but they’re not handing out the points. They were fair and consistent in their judging and tireless in their evaluations…tasting seven chefs’ Garde Manger apps, salad hors d’oeuvres and platter pieces.

I certainly look at things differently now having been through this process. I am now much more excited about my career and look forward to many years to come with Delaware North.

Thank you for the opportunity.


The Challenge: A Day At High School

December 28, 2010

Right before the Christmas holiday, I encountered the most challenging situation I’ve experienced as a chef….a day at the local high school. It was a very interesting day to say the least. In short time, I was able to pick out the students who were leaders and those who were followers. Unfortunately, it was the students who fell in “the middle” who were tougher to establish.

I had to find a way to relate with each of them in a different way in order to get them all to try Black Beans. It’s such a simple item (to me at least) but it was quite a sell to a 16-year-old that is all too comfortable with a fast food burger. I was able to take five students from 9th to 12th grade (that are part of the schools Nutrition Advisory Counsel) and grow their membership by double. We are going to take this group on the road with me in January and have them begin introducing healthy eating practices in the Middle School, as well.

In not so many words, I want them to help with an internal mentoring program. Teenagers have a unique ability to influence one another far more than I or any other adult really can. I am hoping for a trickle effect and will use the Middle School to assist with the intermediate level. And, the intermediate students can then work with the elementary school.

I spent a good amount of time with the district superintendent. She is a major supporter of this movement and has given full commitment to the idea of my presence throughout the district. She had mentioned that my getting involved has peaked so many and is beginning to spread like wild fire (I think the local press plays a larger role than I). I just need to keep today’s news from being yesterdays…

I hope you all enjoyed your holiday. Have a Happy New Year.

Chef Brian P Sterner, CEC

Congrats Chefs.

December 17, 2010

This is an excerpt from an internal newsletter. I loved the photo of the chefs who recently took the Pro Chef II examination.

Congratulations to John Adams and Simon Lewis from The Ahwahnee, Jessica Barnes from Great American Ballpark, Chris Tunnell from Choctaw Casino Resort, Richard Mathis from St. Pete Times Forum, Steven Sterritt from Geneva State Park and Will Cunneen from Red Bull Arena.

Each worked with great intensity at The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone to earn their Pro Chef 2 Certification. During four incredible days, our chefs took practical tests in baking, healthy cooking, Mediterranean cuisine and Garde Manger. They took written tests in the same disciplines as well as in finance and supervisory development. They learned the importance of having a well-developed plan and sticking to it.

This is the first Delaware North group who used the new Viking kitchen that was recently inaugurated at Greystone. What a treat to have all the equipment you can imagine readily available. The group was under the supervision of Chef Toni Sakaguchi, who has worked with Delaware North chefs for the past three years, Chef Thomas Wong and Chef Scott Conant, who all provided many practical tips.

Once again our chefs were well prepared. Thanks to Chef Roland who spent time with each participant for a week offering training and going through trial runs.

In the past, chefs taking the PC2 were automatically granted the Certified Chef de Cuisine certification from the American Culinary Federation. However, the accreditation agreement between the ACF and the CIA was recently changed and our chefs will need to take one additional test and present their employment history to the ACF before earning their CCC.



Focus, Focus, Focus.

December 15, 2010

I have asked the chefs who recently completed their Pro Chef Level II Certification exams to share their thoughts and memories on the long process. Below are Chef Jessica Barnes’ thoughts.

I would have to say the hardest part of the Pro-Chef II Certification would be is trying to maintain focus. Organization and planning are obviously important, and they can be done ahead of time. I felt prepared walking into Greystone Monday morning. All of my prep sheets were done, Mise En Place lists organized, and my platter presentations done. Cooking food is the easy part. I thought – go in there and perform. I thought don’t get distracted. I thought. And there is the issue – distracted. My advice? Turn off your phone, don’t read your emails and don’t talk to anyone about anything but the test. The time for conversations and returning to the real world is Friday. Between Monday and Thursday, you don’t exist outside of those walls.

The rest of it was an educational, albeit stressful situation. The instructors were extremely knowledgeable and patient. The reviews at the end of each test were thought out, thorough and fair. The facility was incredible and easy to negotiate. I feel like a better cook, and a better person for doing it. The challenge was intense, but worth it.

Having worked for Delaware North Companies for the past three years, I find myself constantly impressed with the dedication to its culinary staff. I know a lot of this has to do with the persistence of Chef Roland and the generosity of Mr. Jerry Jacobs Jr., and to both of them I extend my thanks. To the gentlemen that I took the test with, thank you for your advice and council and I look forward to working with you all in the future.

A Week I Will Never Forget

December 13, 2010

I have asked the chefs who recently completed their Pro Chef Level II Certification exams to share their thoughts and memories on the long process. Below are Chef Simon Lewis’ thoughts.

A week I will never forget – stressful, tiring and fun at the same time.

The CIA in Napa is truly an amazing training ground, I learned more than imagined in four days. I was very impressed by the set-up and flow of the school day. The equipment and fundamental training and depth in a variety of topics that the school has to offer is amazing, whoever is attending should take full advantage.

We really owe Chef Roland for making this happen within the company and Delaware North Companies for investing the time and money. It makes a huge impact on making us think. It makes us better chefs. Thank you.

After taking the pro chef 2 test, I came away feeling a little sad. I was happy it was over but I could not stop thinking about what I could have done better, what I should have revised and this is key – make time to study and practice, don’t take anything for granted.

Really, organization is key. I made too many footsteps on thing I could have had prepared before the clock starts. When planning your menus (this is tough because you need to go above and beyond but keep to what you know) time is short and the instructors are tough. They want to see a variety of techniques and they ask you why – so know what you’re doing.

I learned a lot about myself and the company in four days and I met some really great people along the way from the instructors to fellow coworkers from all types of cooking venues and we all had a good time. Again, I would like to say thanks to all the chefs who participated.

3 a.m. Rise and Shine

December 9, 2010

I have asked the chefs who recently completed their Pro Chef Level II Certification exams to share their thoughts and memories on the long process. Below are Chef Will Cunneen’s thoughts.

3:00 a.m. – Now, I am not a morning person, and being a chef, 3:00 a.m. is more often than not when you go to sleep as opposed to wake up. But, nevertheless, there is was on my alarm clock staring at me – 3:00 AM. Again.

That was the start of each day in the beautiful little town of St. Helena where the CIA has its Greystone Campus. It’s not that we needed to be up at 3:00 a.m., but it seemed to be the consensus as to when everyone was waking up.  The excitement and anxiety for what each day could mean as  we drove to the school were too much to let anyone rest for too long. His was yet another 13-hour day of cooking, exams and judgment.

One of the best things about our experiences taking the Pro Chef II Certification, I think, was that it was OUR experience.  Seven very different chefs from all across the country, all coming to this one place to prove to themselves, as well as their colleagues, that they deserved to be there, and deserved to be called “Chef”.

I’ve received so many strange looks from people when I tell them I am the chef at a sports arena; So often people ask me, “What do you make…hotdogs?” I felt I had something to prove. There are a lot of “chefs” in the world, but I would venture a guess that many of these “chefs” could not do what is requested of the PCII examination.

Seven written and four practical exams spanning four days and covering different facets of our industry: baking, nutrition, Mediterranean cuisine, and Garde Manger.  Though I had been practicing, as I’m sure the other candidates had, for months leading up to that first week in December, there were still a few times I really thought I would fail.  One of the great things about it was that it was not a competition.  We pushed each other to be sure, but everyone there wanted everyone else to do well.  Though scored individually, it felt like a team effort.  The whole experience was truly rewarding and one I won’t soon forget.  I’m sure there’s more to be said, but until you’ve done it, you just don’t know.

Thank you for the opportunity.