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Marriott International Announces Winners of 2023 Masters of the Craft

Annual Competition Showcases Extraordinary Talent in Culinary and Mixology Across the U.S. and Canada

Bethesda, MD – WEBWIRE
Culinary winner Kandice Symister and Beverage winner Mitchell Patmagrian celebrate with Marriott International executives
Culinary winner Kandice Symister and Beverage winner Mitchell Patmagrian celebrate with Marriott International executives

Marriott International announced the winners of Masters of the Craft, an annual culinary and beverage competition designed to foster creativity and innovation while highlighting exceptional chefs and bartenders across the Marriott Bonvoy portfolio of hotels in the U.S. and Canada.

Over the past three months, over 1,400 aspiring culinarians and beverage professionals from 176 Marriott Bonvoy 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.

This year’s championship competition was held at the Food & Beverage Design Lab at Marriott International’s Bethesda, MD, headquarters on Tuesday, September 19, 2023, where six finalists went head-to-head incorporating culinary mystery ingredient maitake mushroom and mixology mystery ingredient extra virgin olive oil in their efforts to take home the winning title. Among those finalists, winners were selected from the respective culinary and beverage competitions, including:

Culinary Competition Winner
Kandice Symister – Second Cook, Moana Surfrider, A Westin Resort & Spa, Waikiki Beach

  • Kandice began her career at Marriott in July 2003 and since then, has worked in almost every kitchen position. Influenced by her mother, Kandice aspires to be Chef de Cuisine so she can create her own menu. Her winning dish was a hoisin marinated rack of lamb with a mushroom broth, fried maitake mushrooms and infused orange king trumpet mushrooms.

Beverage Competition Winner
Mitchell Patmagrian – Bartender, The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes

  • A former chef, Mitchell joined The Ritz-Carlton family eight years ago, which is where he developed a strong interest in mixology before becoming a professional bartender. An avid gardener, he’s known for infusing his culinary palette into his beverage creations. Mitchell’s winning cocktail, “Back to Front Flip,” was a rich and creamy take on a bitter rum flip, including lemon juice, olive oil and amaro.

In addition to winning the 2023 Masters of the Craft Championship title, winners were awarded educational experiences aimed at enhancing their culinary abilities and supporting their professional journey. Beverage champion Mitchell Patmagrian received an all-expenses paid trip and the opportunity to participate in Tales of the Cocktail, an annual drinks meeting in New Orleans, LA that allows industry professionals to exchange new ideas, products, and techniques while culinary winner Kandice Symister received a complimentary trip to Grits, Gullah and the Three O’clock Dinner, an immersive culinary experience in Charleston, SC that allows participants to discover the secrets of crafting southern favorites like grits, biscuits and the perfect pitcher of sweet tea.

“Our Masters of the Craft culinary and beverage competition provides a platform for our chefs and bartenders to showcase their passion and talents – it’s an event we look forward to hosting every year,” said Matthew Von Ertfelda, Senior Vice President, Food + Beverage, Global, U.S. and Canada Operations at Marriott International. “In addition to giving our associates the ability to sharpen their skills and push their creative boundaries, Masters of the Craft also provides an amazing opportunity to highlight the exciting food and beverage career paths available at Marriott.”

The final competition featured notable judges including Marriott International President and Chief Executive Officer, Anthony Capuano, and Marriott International’s Executive Vice President and Chief Customer Officer, Peggy Roe. David Marriott, Chairman of the Board, was in attendance to announce the winners from the respective culinary and beverage competitions. High-profile beverage and culinary personality judges included David Kaplan (Founder & Co-owner of Death & Co and CEO of Gin & Luck), Kapri Robinson (Founder of Chocolate City’s Best, the world’s first bartender competition for BIPOC bartenders), Melissa Kelly (Executive Chef and proprietor of Primo at JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes and a restaurant in mid-coast Maine), and Tanya Holland (Executive Chef and Owner of internationally renowned Brown Sugar Kitchen in Oakland, CA, and author of California Soul: Recipes From a Culinary Journey West).

“I’m honored to be included as a judge in this year’s Masters of the Craft competition,” said Tanya Holland, Executive Chef, Entrepreneur and Author of California Soul: Recipes From a Culinary Journey West. “Food and beverage is such an important part of the hospitality industry, and innovation is at its core. I commend Marriott International for their continued efforts to foster creativity among their food and beverage staff and inspire future chefs and bartenders to enter the field.”

Marriott is committed to making a positive and sustainable impact across the Marriott Bonvoy portfolio of 31 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.

For more information about the Marriott Bonvoy portfolio, please visit To discover career opportunities with Marriott International, visit

About Marriott International
Marriott International, Inc. (NASDAQ: MAR) is based in Bethesda, Maryland, USA, and encompasses a portfolio of nearly 8,600 properties under 31 leading brands spanning 139 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 In addition, connect with us on Facebook and @MarriottIntl on Twitter and Instagram.

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