Going on vacay is always fun. Trying exotic foods, going sightseeing, and taking pictures of pretty much everything – it's just an all around great time. But, what about those days when you may be out a little too late or are too lazy to leave the hotel? Ever wonder what goes on behind the scenes of your hotel's kitchen? 

To reveal the truth, I interviewed a Marriott hotel chef for exclusive details on the secrets of the hotel hospitality life.

How often do you clean the kitchen?

pomegranate, cheese, bacon
Photo by Divya Prabhakar

Hotels wash and wipe down cutting boards and all other preparation tools between meals. Then, at the end of each day, the whole kitchen gets a deep cleaning.

For those with allergies, don't worry. If you let your server know about an allergy, the staff will take precautions to make sure that your food has not been in contact with the allergen. 

If you do not have an allergy and just simply do not care for a certain ingredient in a dish ordered, just let your server know. That way, the kitchen does not have to take precautionary measures to completely avoid the food; instead, they can just subtract that ingredient on your served platter.

How do you prepare the food?

Photo by Stephen Blasetti

Surprisingly, many of the foods that are served are prepackaged.

For breakfast, hotels like to keep everything as convenient as possible (since chefs already have to come in early). Some of the pre-made food include: ready to cook up and serve liquid scrambled eggs, pancakes, oatmeal, pre-shaped sausage, biscuits, etc. As for many of the baked breakfast goodies, such as bagels, toast, muffins, and perishable foods, such as fruit, yogurt, and all beverages, the products all come out of the box, ready to be served.

Similar to pre-made breakfast foods, many of the appetizers, entrees, and main course items for lunch and dinner are delivered to the hotel frozen. From fries to pasta, most frozen foods are cooked on site, and then prepared accordingly. However, there will also be fresh food alternatives. 

At this specific hotel, salads (along with other fresh produce items), hamburgers, and steaks are all prepared and cooked to order. This is largely due to the fact that people enjoy customizing how these entrees are served, like requesting dressing on the side, excluding certain ingredients, or ordering a medium rare steak.

Where do the leftovers go?

Natsuko Mazany

Every state has a Department of Health that has different regulations for leftover food. For instance, Washington state is stricter about donating food, whereas, California regulations really support people donating food to food banks. So be sure to check out your state's Department of Health webpage to see their guidelines on donating food to food banks.

What is the hardest food to cook?

meat, pork, steak, vegetable
Photo by Daniel Schuleman

Steak is the dish that my hotel chef interviewee believes people should know how to cook. A good steak is always impressive. But, as a hotel chef, since customers have their own tastes and experiences, it is the most difficult dish to get right. What is medium rare for one person may be too done for another. When you order a steak, the chef grills it according to the internal temperature and then serves that cut of meat. But, since people like to eat with their eyes, when they cut into the steak, the meat may be too red or too brown for their standards.

What I Learned

Never would I have thought that so many foods are pre-packaged at hotels. It makes sense since hotels have to accommodate hundreds of guests and cooking from scratch is time consuming; but pretty much everything, other than produce, is pre-made. That can't be healthy. 

Another questionable act is the managing of leftovers. I thought that hotels could donate all food that has been cooked to local food banks without hassle. Little did I know that every state has different regulations that restrict what foods you can give. 

Vacation should be about adventuring and trying new local foods (at least for foodies like me). However, at the end of a long day of tourist-ing, if you feel like lounging around at the hotel, the food is definitely still worth the convenience.