Name: Jakob E.
Position: Executive Chef
Hotel: Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center
Dream destination: Bali
Drink or treat of choice: Having lived in nine different countries, I love trying local specialties. My favorite drink is mango lassi, which I got hooked on in Singapore. I also cannot resist artisan doughnuts.
After graduating from culinary school in Sweden, Jakob worked at seven different Michelin-starred restaurants in France, Switzerland, Sweden and England before starting his Marriott journey in Barcelona, Spain.
So, what brought this international chef to hospitality? For Jakob, who is now an Executive Chef at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center — a 2,000-room resort situated on the shores of the Potomac River where DC, Virginia and Maryland intersect — it was all about the seemingly endless opportunities that Marriott offers.
“As a cook, there was so much to learn, like offsite catering and banquets, which require immense planning and organization. [In hospitality], you need to adjust your skills for different cultures, guest expectations, surroundings and embrace the different brands,” he says. “The best part is the people that you meet and get to work with. I feel like I can go anywhere in the world with Marriott and achieve anything I wish for.”
In addition to supervising the monumental resort’s extensive culinary operations, which range from an ‘80s-themed rooftop bar to an upscale steakhouse to a sophisticated café and market, Jakob also found joy and purpose in making an impact in the community.
“My absolute favorite part of my job is that I can make a huge difference in people’s lives and for the environment,” he says. When he was working at the W Barcelona, he was responsible for implementing a food donation program that changed the lives of thousands who call the touristy Spanish town home. “Based on that success I have implemented the same process here at Gaylord National. In the first month we donated over 8,000 pounds of cooked food for the Central Union Mission, feeding thousands of people in need.”
Learn more about what feeds this chef’s creative force and how he got to where he is today in his own words, below.
What was your journey to Marriott Executive Chef?
I started my Marriott career as Sous Chef at the Hotel Arts Barcelona, in Spain. There, I had the opportunity to work in leadership roles in all the restaurants, room service, banquets and offsite catering, and gained valuable experience that prepared me for my next steps. After Hotel Arts I was fortunate to get a promotion as the Executive Chef for the W Barcelona for four years before transferring to The Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay as the Executive Chef. After another four exciting years in California, I made the move to DC and Gaylord National.
What’s surprised you most about working for Marriott?
The endless opportunities and how easy it is to grow with the company when you put in effort and passion into what you do. Also, how small the Marriott world is, I constantly run into coworkers from the past who have grown within the company and are moving around.
When are you able to be your most creative self at work?
I get inspired by seeing opportunities where we can improve as a team. My creativity is at its best when I am facing a difficult challenge and I believe anything can be accomplished when we work as a team towards the same goals.
How would you describe Marriott’s culture?
It’s all about our people. Taking care of each other is the foundation of everything that we do. If we do that well, success will come.
What motivates you the most at work?
The reason why I am excited to go to work every day is that there’s great people everywhere and it feels great to work together to do better. To see small daily improvement is my greatest joy, especially when our cooks contribute ideas and suggestions on how we can improve the work that we do. Initiatives such as food donation, reducing food waste and supporting the culinary program at the local high school are creating excitement among our team.
How has Marriott supported you as a chef and an artisan?
There are numerous leaders that have supported me in all my positions and continue to do so every day. For example, I had the opportunity to be the first Chef when The Ritz-Carlton Sanya, and The Ritz-Carlton St. Thomas opened, as well as supporting other properties around the world. There are numerous training opportunities for continuous growth, and we have a great network among Chefs in this company. The support I have received throughout the years motivates me to give support back to others.
What does a good day at work look like for you?
Having meaningful conversations with associates from various departments and seeing our guests enjoying their stay and meals. With Gaylord National being a very large property I rarely stay in one area for very long and I make sure I meet all our team members to see that they are doing well.
When have you been most proud of your team?
We recently lost a great person and leader in our department. This was a very tragic and sad moment for our entire team, and I was extremely proud to see all the team get together and support each other during this very difficult time of mourning. I realized how close of a family we all are, spending most of the time together. It is much more than a job and at times we forget about that.