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Executive chefs come together for menu-planning, professional development at summit in Iowa

A group of 14 executive chefs from throughout Delaware North’s parks and resorts business came together last week for the 2016 chef summit at Iowa’s Honey Creek Resort, one of the latest additions to the company’s portfolio of lodging properties. Video from the event can be found here.
The action-packed week kicked off Dec. 5 with cooking demonstrations and hands-on learning from experts both inside Delaware North – such as Percy Whatley, the division’s vice president of food and beverage, and Regional Executive Chef Pascal Beaute – and from outside the company, with Cuisine Solutions’ Gerard Bertholon lending his know-how.
Glenn MacNayr (executive chef at Sea Crest Beach Hotel on Cape Cod in Massachusetts) and William honeycreek1-5072078Taylor (executive chef at Big Meadows Lodge in Shenandoah National Park) teamed up on Dec. 6 to outlast seven teams of two in the “mystery basket” competition. Each of the eight teams were provided with a basket of ingredients – unknown until the start of the competition – from which they had to prepare a two-course lunch for a judging panel of Whatley, Beaute and Bertholon. The teams were graded on creative presentation (25 percent), cooking techniques (25 percent), and taste, texture and overall flavor (50 percent).   
The winning meal prepared by MacNayr and Taylor featured a kale salad with roasted beets, candied pecans and white balsamic dressing as a starter, followed by a main course of fried chicken with maple-roasted sweet potato and roasted carrots.
“These types of competitions are always great for chefs because it forces them to improvise,” Whatley said. “But it’s also valuable to develop chemistry and pick up different techniques from other chefs from throughout the company. And while many of our chefs have worked together before, in the case of Glenn and William – this week was the first time they met. Talk about a great first handshake.”
Among many other efforts, the chefs spent time throughout the week creating signature menu items for the 2017 season. Each chef presented his or her items during a working lunch session.
“We operate in some of the most visited, beautiful locations in the world. Our guests expect food that meets the highest of standards, so planning our menus well in advance is a must,” Beaute told the chefs. “We have an extremely talented group of chefs here this week, so I hope you take time to learn from each other to get the most out of this experience.”  
Participating chefs were: Alex Beltran (Honey Creek Resort), Glenn MacNayr (Sea Crest Beach Hotel), Chris Dore (The Gideon Putnam), John Wolford (The Lodge at Geneva-on-the-Lake), Gidget Wickham (Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex), Dan Thorington (Top of the Falls Restaurant), Brandon Bollenbacher (Kings Canyon National Park), Efren Gonzalez (Wuksachi Lodge), Frederick Clabaugh (Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite), Zach McLaughlin (Holiday Inn West Yellowstone), Jacob Tew (Rocky Mountain Park Inn), Justin Warnat (Yavapai Lodge), William Taylor (Big Meadows Lodge), Jeff Wasnesky (Skyland Resort) and Ashley Miller (Kalaloch Lodge). Also attending was Keith Jedlikowski, assistant general manager at Niagara Falls State Park.