Welcome to Checking In, our feature that spotlights associates across the company and globe. Today, Heart of the House checks in with Courtney N., Kitchen Supervisor at the Renaissance Columbus Downtown Hotel. Courtney 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: How are you feeling right now? You just won the challenge!
Courtney: I’m really excited. I was hoping for this outcome but you never know. It’s been an amazing month. I was just promoted to a supervisor role and now this. I can’t wait to share the news with my 10-year-old daughter, Zoe!
HOTH: What was your winning dish that got you to this point?
Courtney: A butter braised Monkfish, with coffee infused “dirty” cous cous with lamb liver, pickled green tomatoes and a shaved vegetable salad with Blackberry gastrique.
HOTH: How long have you been with Marriott and how did you get your start?
Courtney: I’ve been with Marriott for 1.5 years. I had an office job for eight years and then decided I needed a change. I’ve always been passionate about cooking so I decided to go to culinary school and pursue a second career. After school, I worked under my mentor chef for about three years at a local farm to table restaurant. I learned so much, including how to cure my own bacon!
HOTH: Really, cure your own bacon?
Courtney: Yes, it’s a lengthy seven-day process. It includes preparing the cure, smoking, slicing and cooking the bacon…in a nutshell.
HOTH: Did someone inspire your love for food/cooking?
Courtney: My grandmother. When I was younger, she gave me my first cookbook as a birthday present. That started it all. I would cook for my family all the time, including holidays.
HOTH: What’s one dish you love to cook?
Courtney: I’m really into pickling and fermenting things right now. But I’ll probably be into something new next month. I’m always experimenting and trying to improve my skillset.
HOTH: Tell us about your day-to-day at Marriott.
Courtney: The name of the restaurant at the hotel is called Latitude 41. We serve modern American food. All of our ingredients are locally sourced, which is what attracted me to the restaurant. In addition to my chef responsibilities, I now manage a team of four.
HOTH: If you could travel anywhere in the world for the food, where would it be?
Courtney: Greece. I love all the citrus flavors in Mediterranean food.