An interview with Executive Chef Armando Monterroso from the Marriott Marquis. The Marriott Marquis is located at
1535 Broadway, NY, NY 10036.
1. Chef Armando, when did you decide you wanted to be a Chef?
I realized when I failed my engineering school (laugh). At the time I needed to earn my â€œcollege moneyâ€ so I worked in the kitchen. What I really enjoyed first was the camaraderie. When I decided to learn my trade, I went to the Culinary School of Johnson and Wales. There I got a degree in Hospitality and Culinary.
2. Do you find some similarities between engineering and culinary?
I do. I enjoy planning and designing a menu so there are definitively similarities. It has to look good, to have a good structure in the dish. It has to be harmonious.
3. Did you have a mentor when you left Johnson & Wales?
Iâ€™ve learned from numerous chefs. I did not follow one in particular. I think to be good you have to be a sponge and learn from a lot of other people.
4. How do you apply what youâ€™ve learned at the Marriott Marquis?
You always have to ask yourself what your specialty is and what you excel at. My specialty is to be able to adapt myself to the situation that is happening in front of me.
To take an analogy in sports, I see myself as a football coach. For instance weâ€™ve recently launched 3 new restaurant menus, a new catering menu, and a new concept: a cheese, chocolate and champagne bar every Friday and Saturday.
It takes a lot of adaptation to make this happens. You have your plans but you need to be able to change them a little bit, to tweak them.
5. What did you like the most and the least in a single operated restaurant?
What I liked the most was the necessity to be disciplined, the stress that keeps you on your toes.
What I liked the least was cleaning (laugh)!
6. Do you have any regrets from the time you were working in small operations?
I regret not going to Europe and learn there.
7. What is the biggest difference between a hotel like the Marriott marquis and a single operated restaurant?
There are two major differences:
One, in a hotel especially a hotel of that size, the financial aspect is the most important factor. You can not make too many mistakes.
Second in a restaurant you will find a greater turnover than in a hotel where the staff is more stable.
8. What was the most appealing part of the Marriott Marquis?
This is a hotel with a lot of choices: 3 restaurants, a large catering operation so itâ€™s never boring. We are in a great location in the heart of Broadway. Itâ€™s a kind of flagship for the company. Each day is a different day.
9. When you arrived did you try to change everything from Day 1?
iâ€™ve been hee for 6 months and I started to learn and see what works and what does not. My new menus are the fruit of my observations and feedback from my team.
10. If you had to make a cheese what would it taste like?
I like creamy cheese and blue cheese. So it would probably be a cowâ€™s milk cheese, maybe a double cream blue cheese!
11. What were you first encounters with cheese?
Growing in a Latin family you learn to drink chocolate. In South America, we used to have a soft cheese that we dipped in chocolate. Great Souvenir!
12. What amazes you in cheese?
The endless possibilities. There are such varieties of flavors.
13. Do you think NYC is the best place to appreciate cheese?
Weâ€™re such in a melting pot that thereâ€™s nowhere youâ€™ll be able to have cheeses from all over the world! In France youâ€™ll probably have only French cheeses but here you can get US, Spanish, Swiss and many more!
14. When did you decide to upgrade your banquet cheese program?
Every year, we want to be better. This year we reach for Artisanal cheeses. Usually you refer of Artisanal cheese for restaurant service. Well we decided to serve the same high quality for our banquets. We want our thousands of guests to be able to enjoy great cheese the way theyâ€™ll enjoy great food!
We have one hundred thousand square feet of event space spread on 8 floors.
I think that people will see a big difference to create an impact on our customers and future ones.
15. You mentioned your pet project: the 3C Experience, what is it exactly?
We see a big opportunity in being in the center of Times Square. People can either come before or after theater. You can come visit us and have cheese, chocolate and champagne. We want this to be a destination in the Times Square area so weâ€™re building it up on the long term.
16. I heard itâ€™s a bargainâ€¦.
It is so come and Join us!
Posted by toni