BETHESDA, Md. — Chef Henry Mateo of Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa and Fraliza Gianniodis of The Ritz-Carlton, Boston, are Marriott International’s 2019 Masters of the Craft for the Americas. The pair emerged victorious after the final round of the second annual competition designed to discover and showcase top culinary and beverage talent across Marriott International properties in North, South, and Central America.
Over the past six months, 3,024 bar and restaurant associates of all levels from 378 properties across 30 hotel brands competed to prove their prowess through quick-fire cooking and bartending challenges. During the timed, rapid-fire competition, each contestant was tasked with incorporating a mystery ingredient into a signature dish or cocktail, which was then judged on the basis of technique, creativity, and taste.
Designed to foster creativity and recognize talent, Masters of the Craft has grown substantially since it launched the finals round at Marriott headquarters last year, where approximately 2,200 associates participated.
The competitions began at individual hotels, and the subsequent winners moved on to sectional and regional competitions. On October 22, there were 12 culinary and 12 beverage finalists who traveled to the Marriott Marquis, Washington D.C., where they competed dish-to-dish and drink-to-drink to determine the three finalists for each category. The final six contestants competed for the championship titles on October 23 at Marriott International’s headquarters in Bethesda, Md.
“Over the past year, Masters of the Craft quickly gained momentum across the organization and has become a competition our associates are eager to participate in—and show off their talents as creative artisans,” said Dana Pellicano, vice president of food and beverage experience for the Americas at Marriott. “I am overwhelmed by the inventive spirit of the competitors and moved by each of their stories and what brought them here today. It is our hope they inspire the next generation of artisans.”
Industry experts judged the final rounds, including AFAR Editor in Chief Julia Cosgrove, Bacardi Master Mixologist Gary Hayward, Beverage Industry Expert Pam Wiznitzer, and Eater DC Editor Tierney Plumb. Also returning as culinary and beverage judges respectively, 2018 Masters of the Craft winners, Chef Sherene Hutchinson of Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort and Mixologist Jonathan Miller of The Phoenician, a Luxury Collection Resort, Scottsdale.
First to congratulate the winners were Marriott International leaders including Bill Marriott, executive chairman; David Grissen, Americas group president; and Erika Alexander, chief lodging services officer, The Americas.
With the secret ingredient of chicken, the culinary division winner, Chef Henry Mateo of Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa, created a Chinese-style noodle dish with handmade noodles.
From the beverage division, Fraliza Gianniodis of The Ritz-Carlton, Boston won the title using the secret ingredient of China Martini Liqueur alongside mezcal and chocolate bitters to craft an Old Fashioned-inspired cocktail.
As the winners of the Masters of the Craft competition, Chef Henry Mateo and Fraliza Gianniodis will receive an all-expenses-paid culinary or beverage educational experience to further foster their talent, as well as a custom-made chef’s jacket or bar apron.