A Recap of Marriott International’s Masters of the Craft Competition

January 11, 2023

Marriott International headquarters test kitchen where chefs and bartenders experiment with recipes preparation methods and equipment. Photo Credit: Garrett Rowland

Lemon Garlic Snapper, Prepared by finalist Soumi Hazra from JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort

Marriott International’s Masters of the Craft, a culinary and beverage competition that showcases talent from the Marriott Bonvoy portfolio of hotels in the U.S. and Canada, returned last month following a two-year hiatus. The competition is designed to foster creativity and innovation while highlighting exceptional chefs and bartenders within the company’s food and beverage community.

Over the past three months, 800 aspiring culinarians and beverage professionals from 80 Marriott properties competed in local and regional Masters of the Craft competitions to prove their prowess through quick-fire cooking and mixology challenges. During the timed, rapid-fire competitions, each contestant was tasked with incorporating a mystery ingredient into a signature dish or cocktail, which was then judged based on technique, creativity, and taste.

“After a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, we’re excited for the return of Masters of the Craft and the passion it ignites within our incredible chefs and bartenders,” says Matthew Von Ertfelda, Senior Vice President, Food + Beverage, Global, U.S. and Canada Operations at Marriott International. “Masters of the Craft not only highlights the amazing talent we have within our hotels and restaurants – and affords our associates bragging rights in their kitchen or bar – but also helps inspire the next generation of rising culinary and beverage stars while underlining the incredible opportunities that exist to build a rewarding food and beverage career within Marriott.”

Six finalists went head-to-head for the final Masters of the Craft competition at Marriott International’s brand-new Bethesda, MD headquarters test kitchen on Thursday, December 15, 2022. The six finalists included:

Culinary Talent
  • Soumi Hazra – Lead Cook, JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort
    • Chef Soumi grew up learning cooking techniques from her mother in India, where the first dish she mastered was masala corn. In her winning recipe, Soumi draws inspiration from her roots with a Lemon Garlic Snapper that’s served with masala corn, sherry apple jam, and Indian onion salsa, with a fried kale and shaved marcona almond garnish.
  • Shai’ana Moultrie – Cook, Philadelphia Marriott Downtown
    • Chef Shai’ana also learned how to cook from her mother at just nine years old and developed a passion for caring for others through food. Her winning recipe features diver scallops with carrot puree, risotto, and charred Romanesco.
  • Mike Wiatrzyk – Commis 1, The Westin Harbour Castle, Toronto
    • Born and bred in Ontario, Canada, Chef Mike takes pride in utilizing local products whenever possible and draws inspiration from his Polish roots for his culinary creations. His winning recipe, Roasted Beef Teres Major and Ontario Fall Beets, is beautifully plated with Parisian-style goat cheese gnocchi, Polish-style beetroot puree, pickled beet, chimichurri, and a watermelon radish garnish.

Beverage Talent

  • Sean Noddin – Principal Bartender, JW Marriott Tampa Water Street
    • With more than eight years in the industry, Sean is a principal bartender for JW Marriott’s SiX rooftop, an elevated bistro with Florida roots. Sean’s winning recipe, “That’s Amaro,” is inspired by his parents’ wedding song and made with bourbon, amaretto, amaro, fresh lemon juice, egg white and candy corn simple syrup.
  • Zack Vosough – Bartender, The Phoenician, A Luxury Collection Resort, Scottsdale
    • Zack started his career in mixology in New York City nearly ten years ago while simultaneously attending culinary school. His winning recipe, Corn to be Wild, features whiskey, corn liqueur, honey, lime juice, corn milk and egg white.
  • Tyler Young – Bartender, Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel
    • Tyler’s passion for mixology sparked nearly 15 years ago when he was tending bar for private parties and saw the joy a craft cocktail could bring to those he served. Since then, he’s worked in front and back of house positions to further develop his craft and palate for unique flavors. His winning recipe, the Japanese-inspired “Tokyo Sour,” is made with plum whiskey, egg white, lemon juice, simple syrup, yuzu, and ginger liqueurs.

The Masters of the Craft competition winners:

Culinary Talent
  • Soumi Hazra – Lead Cook, JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort
    • Winning Dish: Mediterranean Style Steak (with Tomato Gel, Tangy Pickled Potato + Carrots, Pear Sauce, finished with Pear and Apple Chimichurri)
    • Hazra’s winning dish was inspired by flavors from India and her mother’s cooking. She had no experience working with steak before coming to America and working at Tesoro. She started with Marriott as a J1 intern in 2019, and worked her way around the hotel learning from all the chefs and coworkers. Hazra can’t wait to further her career with this Marriott and grow into higher positions to be able to teach others what she has  learned. In her free time she loves bike riding and taking her super cute dog to the dog park and beach. She and her boyfriend also love movies and trying new restaurants.
    • Mantra: “Spend time thinking of what you want rather than what you don’t want​.”
Beverage Talent
  • Zack Vosough – Bartender, The Phoenician, A Luxury Collection Resort, Scottsdale
    • Winning Drink: “Surprising Marriage” (tequila, apple, ginger, white truffle oil aromatics, egg white sour). Traditionally paired flavors (tequila, apple, ginger) married with nontraditional elements (white truffle oil)
    • Vosough began his career as a bar back in New York City in 2013, working part time while cooking after culinary school. He decided that his true passion was behind the bar crafting cocktails and left cooking behind. This path has played a big part in how he crafts every cocktail. He moved up the ranks in the bar world and eventually was creating cocktail menus and curating beer lists. He has been with Marriott for 1 year and loves bringing his experience to the luxury resort setting!​ He enjoys picking up and moving somewhere completely new to him, like he did moving to Arizona. It gave me him confidence to know that he can make something of himself anywhere and he wouldn’t be who he is without having done this!​
    • Favorite Quote: “Whether you think you can, or you can’t, you’re right.” – Henry Ford​

Fun Facts:

The Masters of the Craft event achieved participation from 80 hotels and 800 associates. The events live stream generated 63K impressions and had 877 live viewers.

The Masters of the Craft Beverage Talent Winner, Zack Vosough.

Final cocktails

The final competition featured notable judges including Marriott International Chief Executive Officer Anthony Capuano, and beverage and culinary personalities Bridget Albert (author, podcast host, celebrated beverage professional, and decorated competitor in cocktail competitions), Rick Billings (Executive Chef Partner for the legendary Jose Andres Group), Wylie Dufresne (famed chef renowned for growing the molecular gastronomy movement) and Nycci Nellis (founder of The List, co-host of two radio shows including Foodie and the Beast, prominent food and wine journalist). Winners of the competition received an all-expenses paid trip to experience the Aspen Food & Wine Classic in June 2023.

The event was livestreamed on Thursday, December 15, 2022, from 1-2:30 pm ET, allowing friends, families, and colleagues to cheer on their favorite finalist.

Masters of the Craft was made possible by its sponsors including Platinum level Barilla, Nestle, Hormel and Gold level Pepsi who share core company values of investing in the growth and development of food and beverage associates.

Marriott is committed to making a positive and sustainable impact across the Marriott Bonvoy portfolio of extraordinary hotel brands, an intention fully realized through the company’s sustainability and social impact platform, Serve 360, which puts the core value of “Serve Our World” into action. Sustainability goals for 2023 include cutting food waste in half, responsibly sourcing 95 percent of top 10 priority categories and reducing overall waste to landfill by 45 percent. This year’s grand finale competition introduced a “mystery basket” of sustainably sourced ingredients from a nearby warehouse that focuses on food waste recovery.

For more information about the Marriott Bonvoy portfolio, please visit www.Marriott.com/. To discover career opportunities with Marriott International, visit www.Careers.Marriott.com/Career-Paths/Food-and-Beverage/.

About Marriott International
Marriott International, Inc., is based in Bethesda, Maryland, USA, and encompasses a portfolio of nearly 8,200 properties under 30 leading brands spanning 138 countries and territories. Marriott operates and franchises hotels and licenses vacation ownership resorts all around the world. The company offers Marriott Bonvoy®, its highly awarded travel program. For more information, please visit our website at www.Marriott.com, and for the latest company news, visit www.MarriottNewsCenter.com. In addition, connect with us on Facebook and @MarriottIntl on Twitter and Instagram.