Kitchen Remodel at The Ahwahnee.

March 30, 2011

The Ahwahnee kitchen was closed earlier this year for some serious upgrades that have now come to fruition. Chef Percy Whatley was kind enough to send along before and after shots that are worth looking at. I’ve added them all below.

The Ahwahnee Kitchen – Before

Dishwasher Demo

Hot Line

Hot Line Before The Demo


Pantry Line Demo

Pastry Oven and Sink

Steam Cleaning The Place

Where The Walk In Is Going

The Ahwahnee Kitchen Remodeled

Remodeled Kitchen

Remodeled Kitchen 2


Kettle Line


Building A Team

March 29, 2011

This may be the last follow-up post from the Nutrition Summit and it’s very brief – but I found it important. It is so highly important for us to bring our chefs together from time to time so they can learn from each other and also so they can recognize that they are part of a larger team. Their efforts and work extend beyon just their property, it’s about what we’re doing as a company across the world. Chef Charles Trester sent me this brief one-sentence follow up after the nutrition summit.

Good afternoon,

As a relative newcomer to the Delaware North family, the highlight of the event was getting know the other chefs from Parks and Resorts.  The camaraderie built working together and enjoying our free time together made for lasting professional relationships.

Chef Sterner Talks Nutrition Summit.

March 28, 2011

Not A Bad Looking Team

Here are some more thoughts and notes regarding the recent nutrition summit Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts hosted. Feel free to share comments below and a big thank you to Chef Sterner for his time, insight and photos.

It’s always great to get together as a group of chefs. To leave the comfort of our own kitchens is not always an easy task. But, once we are all together, you come to realize there have been some changes. There are new chefs, some that have been around for a while and others who have changed locations. In the big picture, we are all still chefs that come together to continue our education. We will never know everything but we will continue to gather as much knowledge as we possibly can.


Travel for the week was a bit hectic in the beginning. I faced delays in Albany and more hold ups in Philadelphia before arriving at Los Angeles International Airport just in time to miss dinner…never fear, there was plenty of chowder to go around. Chef Larry’s team was eager to bring out a bit to eat for me even after everyone else was finished.

During day one we put together recipes that we had developed individually in advance. Unfortunately for me, my grocery list was not available (my fault). That said, I adjusted and adapted. So, I went mystery basket style and developed new healthy recipes on the fly. I saw a lot of great dishes that day. Dinner that evening was at Seasons 52, a concept where all plates are under 500 calories. It is a great concept, unless you eat more plates than you should.

On day two, we broke into teams of two to prepare a few things Chef Percy came up with. Once again, you could feel the camaraderie building amongst us. We may have been in teams of two but all the teams were working with one another. Dinner that evening was at Steffans at LA Farm. We sampled a wide array of fare.

During the third day we took a trip to the Farmers Market or as I like to call it “a chef’s playground.” We each had a $20 budget (many, including myself, broke that number) to shop around, gather whatever we wanted then headed back to the ship to prepare a feast. Each of us were able to showcase our own individual style. It was a picture perfect day to shop the amazing agriculture. Our four day required us to take a quick trip to Santa Monica Seafood Market where there was a great informative tour of the facility…then we all parted ways.

All in all, it was a great week. I think we will all be paying more attention to calories, total fat, sodium and fiber. We understand the importance of educating our teams and guests.

A Day At The Market

Notes From The Nutrition Summit

March 24, 2011

Chef Steven Sterritt was kind enough to send the below notes and thoughts following the Parks & Resorts nutrition summit at the Queen Mary. Other chefs have also sent their thoughts and I will post them all as time allows. Please read below and share your thoughts/ideas on nutrition.

Nutrition – For most chefs this is a topic that all too often gets overlooked. I was really pleased that I was asked to attend the meeting on the Queen Mary for a couple of reasons:

1)  I had never been on the ship before and couldn’t wait to get on board and explore.

2)  I am always striving to learn more about how to cook “healthier” and bring that knowledge to our guests.

Our goal was to take simple, fresh ingredients and extract maximum flavor (similar to what we do daily) but minimizing and/or eliminating the use of salt and measuring everything we produced so that we could calculate with our culinary software precisely each individual recipe’s nutritional analysis to ensure the recipe is well-balanced. Then we would meet to discuss as a group and critique our results.

Here are some of the things we agreed would help us accomplish our goal of providing even healthier meals in Parks & Resorts:

~ We will have full nutritional value available for each items we sell and each time we do a recipe card we will attach a picture, cost and nutritional value

~ We will have a binder or an actual menu available upon request with calorie count, sodium, fiber and fat content

~ We will have one or several items to substitute for French fries

~ We will not use the headline “healthy offerings” but might have a section on our menus where a few select dishes with nutritional content is listed (i.e. Under 500 Calories)

~ We will have at least two vegetarian offerings available on all of our menus

~ The time was well spent and the opportunity to spend some time with other chefs always proves itself invaluable. In my opinion this needs to happen more frequently.   The camaraderie between chefs, especially in the same company/division should not be separated by artificial barriers & we can all learn from these types of settings.


Chefs Gather For Nutrition Exercise.

March 23, 2011

Below is an excerpt from a story that appeared in the Delaware North Companies internal newsletter about a recent nutrition event some of our chefs took part in. I am hopeful some of them will share their views on the event with a blog post.

Ten chefs from Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts met recently on The Queen Mary for the first-ever Nutrition Summit. Christian De Vos, vice president of food and beverage, and Oehme Soule, a registered dietician, led the four-day session that was intended to increase the chefs’ knowledge of nutrition, develop healthy menu items and discuss how best to present the information to guests. The best day, according to De Vos was Wednesday. The group took a field trip to the Santa Monica Market to purchase ingredients for vegetarian dishes and returned to the ship to cook. “The food was absolutely splendid,” De Vos said.

Culinary School Graduates.

March 22, 2011

I’ve included a link to a story that is a very good piece on the challenge that recent graduates from culinary programs face when trying to enter the hospitality workforce. This challenge is in large part due to several things that occur before the student even enrolls all the way through graduation. I could write an entire book on this topic but for the most part it deals with the fact that culinary schools are costly and quite honestly don’t always prepare students adequately. There are only a few schools that are really preparing students for the reality of the industry. I encourage all chefs and/or possible future chefs to read this piece.

Chicken Tangine, Eggplant and Olives

March 17, 2011

Since I posted about chicken yesterday, I thought I’d do it again and include a very nice recipe that Florence Fabricant has put together in the New York Times called Chicken Tagine. She talks about the origin of the seasoning for this dish and also the importance of having a tagine. I’ve pasted the recipe below. I hope our chefs enjoy reading about this recipe and someone enjoys it soon.

Chicken Tagine With Eggplant and Olives

Time: 11/2 hours

2 tablespoons ground cumin

1 tablespoon smoked paprika

1 chicken, cut in 10 pieces

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 medium red onion, quartered lengthwise

2 small eggplants, about 1 pound total, quartered lengthwise

3 garlic cloves, slivered

1/3 cup pitted black niçoise olives

1/2 cup chicken stock

2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

Salt and black pepper

1 tablespoon chopped tarragon, plus a few sprigs for garnish

Rice or couscous for serving.

1. On a plate, blend the cumin and paprika together. Dip the chicken pieces in spices to coat both sides. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat and brown chicken on both sides. Remove.

2. Add the onions to the skillet and sear on cut sides until browned. Remove. Lower heat to medium and add remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Lightly brown eggplant on cut sides. Remove. Add garlic and olives, cook until the garlic has softened, then add the stock and vinegar. Bring to a simmer, deglazing the pan, then turn off the heat.

3. Coarsely chop the browned onions. Scatter them in a terra-cotta tagine or in a sauté pan with a cover, then lay the chicken pieces on top. Chop the eggplant in 1-inch chunks and distribute them over the chicken. Pour stock mixture, with olives and garlic, on top. Season with salt and pepper and scatter chopped tarragon on top. Cover the tagine or pan and cook on medium-low heat for 40 minutes. Remove from heat and let rest 10 minutes. Garnish with tarragon sprigs and serve with rice or couscous.

Yield: 4 servings.