Welcome to Checking In, our feature that spotlights associates across the company and globe. Today, Heart of the House checks in with Mark B., Culinary Supervisor at the Chicago Marriott Oak Brook. Mark was selected as one of two winners of the CookSmart Culinary Challenge. More than 240 hourly culinary associates and line cooks participated in “Iron Chef” style cook-offs over a two month period in which associates were given a list of ingredients and just 30 minutes to whip up their creations.
HOTH: Congrats Mark! What was your winning dish that got you to this point?
Mark: I made a grilled salmon with corn and sweet potato hash and a cilantro lime pesto sauce.
HOTH: Sounds delish. What kind of food do you love cooking the most?
Mark: I’m from the Philippines, a city called Cavite, so I love cooking Filipino food.
HOTH: What’s your favorite Filipino dish?
Mark: Adobo, which is a very popular traditional dish.
HOTH: What’s one ingredient you can’t live without?
Mark: Jasmine rice. It’s a staple!
HOTH: How long have you been with Marriott?
Mark: Five years and I just got promoted to a supervisor.
HOTH: Congrats! What are some of your responsibilities now?
Mark: I still cook but I also help oversee more junior chefs and assist with quality control. In addition to our hotel’s restaurant, 1401 West, I also work in the banquet department.
HOTH: What inspired you to become a chef?
Mark: When I was younger, my parents exposed me to a lot of different kinds of foods. I started watching cooking shows and would learn new techniques. Then I decided to go to culinary school where I really learned how to be a better chef.
HOTH: Where do you see yourself in five or ten years?
Mark: I just want to learn as much as I can right now. I’m not in a hurry to move up the ranks. No matter what, I always want to cook because it’s my passion.
HOTH: If you could travel anywhere in the world for the food, where would it be?
Mark: Hawaii. I would love to experience all the islands.