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Cha Ching!!! Rivers Casino Here I Come…

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I have applied to Rivers Casino when I was on my Externship in Spain, hoping when I came back, I would be lined up with a job. Unfortunately, there were no calls or messages back in May/June. Sunrise Senior Living Church Creek gave me a great opportunity in the meantime. I developed great friendships and awesome people doing great things for the elderly. The experience I received at Sunrise will never be forgotten…

Just recently, I reapplied at Rivers Casino and this was the last straw before making my big move to San Diego. Yup, I was west coast bound and ready to make the big risk…but for some reason my phone rang 2 days after reapplying at the casino. “Good morning is Omar Soriano available?” says the HR representative…”Speaking” I said…”I am calling in regards to the application you submitted and have a few questions if you have a moment?” “But of course!” I said. Oh was my heart beating with excitement…HR rep asks “What are 3 ways of thickening up a liquid?” I respond quickly…”Roux, Slurry, and Natural Reduction” “Correct” says the HR rep…and last quick question “What are the 2 numbers between the Temperature Danger Zone?” I took a moment to make sure it wasnt a trick question…”Ahh…yes, between 40 and 140″  “Correct!” Says the HR Rep..Next, we set up a date for an interview and of course I bring my famous Lincoln Bread.  Surprisingly, I interviewed with the pastry chef since the Executive Chef was not in that day. Brought my portfolio and my catering menu and I felt confident enough that this one was in the bag.

After my interview, I was told that I would receive a call the next day to set up interview #2 and was invited for a tasting. I was thinking in my head…ahhh the Chef is inviting me for a menu tasting?? Nice!!! NOT!!! I was my cooking test…hehehe. Just last week I went in on my off day and showed up for my 8am tasting dressed in my whites and my knife kit bag. One of the Chefs brought me in and gave me the grand tour and showed me where I would be cooking and handed me a full sheet tray consisting of shrimp, chicken breast, asparagus, eggplant, zucchini, squash, potatoes, tomatoes, onion, mushrooms, carrots,leeks, lemon, cucumber, red and green peppers and the use of pantry and produce in the coolers. Chef said, “You  must make an appetizer and an entree, 2 plates each with 2 hours to complete using most or all the ingredients.” Oh yea…I felt like I was on the Food Network show, Chopped. I will admit that my nerves were running through my body, but after 20 mins I got myself focused and in the zone. I knew right away,what the entree was going to be…Stuffed Chicken Breast with Vegetables 2 ways and Herb Roasted Potatoes…I start off with a pot of water to get the potatoes going, butterfly my chicken breast…cut up all my vegetable and mirepoix. I run to the pantry and grab breadcrumbs and fresh herbs. Come back and start sauteing my mirepoix in butter with mushrooms and breadcrumbs for stuffing the chicken breasts. I start to blanche my asparagus and oil up the eggplant that will be grilled. Prepare the zucchini and squash that will be herb roasted with the potatoes. Once my traditional bread stuffing was done I stuffed those chicken breasts and seared them off and got em in the oven. I would say about an hour past.

Next was the appetizer, I was thinking tempura at first..nah…how about some heat? Went back to the kitchen and made a dry rub for the shrimp, curry, ginger, red pepper flakes, cayenne, and salt and pepper. Let that get all happy and start roasting the peppers…went to the cooler and grabbed a mango…oh yes! A warm mango salsa and roasted peppers to pair up with that fiery shrimp.  Sliced some cucumbers for the base of my plate in a nice uniform spiral, used my cookie cutter to place the mango salsa neatly and cleanly, and finally sauteed those bad boys up in brown butter and plated them. With 10 minutes to spare I started plating Chicken with the vegetables 2 ways with the potatoes and a simple chicken gravy…use the same water i blanched my veggies and potatoes so nothing went to waste and had flavor. And also boiled the shrimp shells and used it to flambeau the shrimp 😉 I think i covered most of the culinary techniques in these 2 plates and made it come together as best I can.

Finally, judging time. 3 of the Chefs and a Sous Chef were seated and I had to explain each plate. I got through it and had to write down my menu as the Chefs discussed my plates. They were talking for a while…and then they told me that I did a great job, go clean up and meet me in my office. As I, was cleaning up, one of the Chefs said, “I know the news!” he gave me the thumbs up while I waited to be called by the Big Boss…He congratulated me and walked me to HR to get the paperwork started. WOOT WOOT!!!

Official start date January 13, 2012….




About Chef O

Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts at Chicago A.A.S June 2011

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