The Chicago Marriott Downtown’s Food Philosophy Showcased at a Farm-To-Table Culinary Experience
By: Sharon Bellock
As the negotiator for the International Home + Housewares Show’s hotel rates, I get to develop relationships with some of the finest hoteliers in Chicago. Stemming from those relationships comes knowledge of positive initiatives that most wouldn’t realize, including The Chicago Marriott Downtown’s philosophy on food.
In what can only be described as a cultural shift, the leadership and culinary teams at The Chicago Marriott Downtown slowly changed the way they approached food, ultimately differentiating themselves from other Chicago hotels and even properties within their own brand. With small changes at first, such as embracing local and seasonal product as well as producing house made items, they were able to migrate from a traditional food operation to a 95% scratch kitchen for all food components of their hotel. That is a feat not any other Chicago hotel can claim.
To put this migration into perspective, The Chicago Marriott Downtown feeds a million people a year, yet all pasta served in their restaurant, banquet space or otherwise is made from scratch. They employ two full-time butchers who grind and pack over 100 lbs. of breakfast sausage a week. They even have a roof top garden with four honey producing beehives to drizzle atop their culinary treats.
During the early stages of this awakening period, three chefs from The Chicago Downtown Marriott had a chance encounter at the Green City Market with a young farmer, Nate Sumner of Heritage Prairie Farms. Turning that meeting into an almost 10-year strong relationship, all parties continue to benefit with each person focusing on sustainability, consistency and vision. Come late winter, you might even find this group together thumbing through seed catalogs and planning menus for the approaching spring and summer seasons.
Nate Sumner explains that one cold night could turn his green tomatoes red, resulting in an unexpected harvest. The Chicago Marriott Downtown can take his crop, an order five times larger than normal, and incorporate this thanksgiving into their own banquet and restaurant menus, thus, eliminating what could have been waste.
Recently, I was invited to Nate’s USDA-certified organic Heritage Prairie Farms in Elburn, Ill., to attend the hotel’s Farm-To-Table culinary experience. Leading us through the well-planned gastronomic journey was Executive Chef Frank Sanchez and his team; while the hotel’s Dawn VanHowe elevated this event in such a way that it provided her guests a rare and whimsical weekday treat.
Explore the gallery below to fully experience this stunning event:
Cheers to The Chicago Marriott Downtown for befriending and supporting a local farmer who embraces sustainable farm practices. This is a genuine reflection of their team and company culture.
Want to experience the Marriott Chicago Downtown’s revolutionized food philosophy yourself? Reserve your hotel room now for the 2018 International Home + Housewares Show at the reduced rate of $189.