Tropicana Atlantic City Celebrates Women’s History
For Immediate ReleaseSat, Mar 7, 2020
ATLANTIC CITY, NJ (March 8, 2020) – Declared Women’s History Month, March annually celebrates the contributions and accomplishments of women, both past and present. Tropicana Atlantic City, an equal opportunity employer, is proud to have numerous women serving in leadership positions as well as fulfilling roles in male-dominated professions.
This March, Tropicana will honor five of its fierce female chefs, Angela Irwin, Lauren Petrovski, Maria Schmidt, Stefania Scotto, and Rocio Robalino, who are creating their own seats at the table.
Chef Angela Irwin, Banquet Chef, Tropicana
A childhood pastime transformed into a professional career for Chef Angela Irwin. Irwin recalls fond memories of visiting the local corner deli as a young girl, gathering ingredients and returning home to construct a pretend menu and prepare meals for herself and her cousin. Now head of the Banquets Department at a major casino resort, the scale of Irwin’s meal preparation has increased from two people to 2,000 plus. “I have just always loved to cook,” say Irwin. “It’s just a great feeling that you get when you can make someone happy by simply giving them something they really enjoy.” In her role, Irwin is responsible for food production for all conventions, meetings, and in-house parties. In addition, she creates schedules for the entire culinary team and scouts new talent.
A long-standing team member of Tropicana Atlantic City, Irwin has worked behind the scenes in nearly every kitchen across the sprawling property during her 21 years with the company, 17 of that spent in the Banquets Department. From the coffee shop to gourmet restaurants, to the buffet and now to banquets, Irwin has climbed the ranks over the years.
Irwin’s success was not achieved without overcoming obstacles along the way. She has constantly been reminded that the job of a lead chef should be fulfilled by a man, not a woman. Clients often seek out any male in the room, assuming they must be the chef; however, confident in her ability and passionate about her work, Irwin perseveres and encourages others pursuing a culinary careers to do the same. Recognizing gender stereotypes, tough hours and home-life responsibilities, Irwin remains confident in her conviction that if a job is truly a woman’s passion, she will make time for all that needs to be done and the rest will simply fall into place.
Irwin’s passion for her work transcends to the meals she prepares. Utilizing the best seasonal produce and modest seasoning, Irwin draws inspiration from a visit to the Mediterranean believing the best dishes are simple things, done right.
Aside from providing fresh, flavorful meals, Irwin strives to provide an experience for each guest that dines with her by ensuring every individual feels comfortable and cared for. “Everything that we make we do with love; we really try to create an experience for people,” Irwin explained. “Every big experience in people’s lives, whether it’s a wedding, an anniversary or just a get together, they are always centered around food. If we can make a really good meal for a party, it contributes to that whole experience.”
Chef Lauren Petrovski, Pastry Relief Cook, Tropicana Bake Shop
To some, flour, water, eggs and butter are basic staples found in nearly every house-hold kitchen. To Chef Lauren Petrovski, these wholesome ingredients signify the basis of creative freedom.
As Pastry Relief Cook in Tropicana’s Bake Shop, Petrovski converts ordinary ingredients into gourmet pastries for Olón Restaurant and produces exquisite cakes for weddings and other special occasions. In her role, Petrovski’s creations are ever-changing, from a 3D replica of the Super Bowl trophy one day to a Disney castle for a little girl the next. She finds excitement in the variation of design and meaning behind every dessert she creates.
When enjoying a slice of cake or a bite of a delicious pastry, Petrovski hopes guests realize the substantial time and effort she puts into each creation. “It is literally a labor of love,” says Petrvoski. “Some of the showpieces and cakes I make can take up to a week to fully complete. I really put a lot of love into the things I create.”
Art, design, and creativity ultimately drew Chef Lauren Petrovski to the culinary field; however, through years of experience she has gained a valuable perspective, learning working in the bake shop isn’t always sweet. “You have to see the humor in the kitchen,” says Petrovski. “It can be a pretty stressful job, but it’s just sugar at the end of the day. Mistakes will happen; you’re going to burn things and cakes are going to fall over. You just have to let things go and have fun with it.”
The challenges for this female Pastry Chef do not only consist of burnt desserts or toppled cakes, Petrovski says gender roles and stereotypes are also prevalent in the industry. She advises women interested in pursuing a career as a chef to take on all the less glamorous work too, including taking the trash out, pushing the heavy cart and lifting the big boxes. Petrovski credits her success to not allowing herself to be stereotyped, continuously educating herself, and working hard.
Chef Maria Schmidt, Chef de Cuisine, Okatshe and Olón Restaurant
Intrigued by the concept of cooking, but not certain she wanted a culinary career, it was those closest to Chef Maria Schmidt who encouraged her to explore the prospect of becoming a professional chef after witnessing her natural skill and artistry in the kitchen.
Now at the helm of two restaurants at Tropicana Atlantic City, Olón and Okatshe, as Chef de Cuisine, Schmidt oversees all aspects of operations from the nitty gritty in the kitchen to big picture research and development.
Schmidt credits interactions with her team and peers as well as her travel experiences for her creativity and success in the industry. During her tenure, she has had the pleasure of interacting with individuals with various cultural upbringings. She has learned an individual’s background is often reflected in the style and taste of their food resulting in a unique flair that can lead to a change in production of a dish.
For her own inspiration and education, Schmidt often travels internationally and domestically. By fully immersing herself in a culture’s respective customs, she is able to gain a deeper understanding of what people eat and why. Schmidt found the most inspiration for her artistry in Bangkok, where foods genres are not limited to any particular time of day, dishes are simple and unexpected combinations are delectable. Schmidt often translates her new found insight into unconventional dishes using her guiding philosophy, “if it tastes good, then we go with it.” She hopes when guests dine at her restaurant, they are surprised at how much they enjoy the food even though it might be foreign or was not what they expected.
If asked how a female can achieve success in this industry, Schmidt will simply reply, “Don’t let anyone tell you no.” Schmidt suggests women pursuing a culinary career keep a strong mind and a strong work ethic. “At the end of the day if cooking is truly her passion, she knows what she wants to do, and her heart is set on it, then she will figure out a way to make a career in this industry happen.”
Though successful, Schmidt is able to recount the moments of disregard she has experienced being a powerful female chef, some as recent as yesterday. Schmidt, similar to Irwin, still notices vendors or patrons take a quick glance to find the male in the room, usually followed by the question, “Can you grab the Chef, please?” Rather than be bothered, Schmidt has learned to find humor in these scenarios and will typically reply, “Sure, let me grab the chef for you,” as she turns around to walk away, she quickly turns back with a sly smile and says, “How may I help you?”
Chef Stefania Scotto, Sous Chef, Tropicana
Culinary Arts is rooted in the DNA of Chef Stefania Scotto. Hailing from a long line of restauranteurs, Scotto was expected to follow her heritage and pursue the profession; however, she spent her first years of college exploring architecture, leaving those closest to her bewildered. Her passion for art led her on that journey which concluded in the world of culinary arts.
Scotto views the preparation and presentation of dishes as their own unique form of art. She finds reward in having guests share the same appreciation for the artistry and dedication of a chef’s work. “It’s really a job like nursing or teaching,” says Scotto. “You truly have to passionate about what you do in this field because chefs spend countless hours working, especially during major holidays that should be dedicated to family so there is a lot of reward in pleasing other people.”
Scotto currently serves as Sous Chef for the Top of the Trop,an exclusive players club for Black Card members, Tropicana Advantage Club,Employee Cafeteria and supervises all basic sauce production for the establishment. Prior to joining the Tropicana Team, Scotto owned her own restaurant, Soffrito Italian Grille, and worked in Italy for a period of time.
Scotto put her skills to the ultimate test when she opened the doors to her very own restaurant, Soffrito Italian Grille, serving upscale, casual Italian food. Focusing on the quality of the food, from the fish to the bread, Scotto only used the freshest ingredients in her recipes. She went as far as waking up at 6 a.m. daily to bake the bread for that evening’s bread baskets.
After selling Soffrito in 2015, Scotto spent a two-year stint in Italy and capitalized on the rare opportunity to cook for the highest government officials, including the President of The Republic. Impressed by her talent, then President of the Italian Republic, President Napolitano, presented Scotto with an award. Scotto has had the pleasure of preparing meals for numerous celebrities such as Pat Sajack, Mark Sommers, and many more.
After starting to feel unbalanced in her life, Scotto returned to the States to dedicate more time to family and began her career at Tropicana Atlantic City. To a woman wishing to pursue this line of work, Scotto advises them to be aware of where they are and where they wish to be. “Have a clear vision of your personal life and business goals,” explained Scotto. “Once that projection is made, pursue your goals with dedication, hard work, and passion, and your success will follow.
Chef Rocio Robalino, Sous Chef, Tropicana
Chef Rocio Robalino credits her mother, who owns a restaurant in their homeland Peru, as her source of motivation for pursuing a career in the culinary industry. After spending much of her childhood admiring her mother’s success, Robalino felt confident that she, too, could have a career in the industry. Her path in life has come full circle, as Robalino has flourished in her professional career and now oversees the preparation and cooking of food for Tropicana Restaurants and the employee cafeteria.
For Robalino, preparing meals is much more than a calculated process, it is a source of joy and an outlet for expressing her passion. Behind the line, her mind is clear and focused, worries are replaced with feelings of contentment and creativity. She aims to pass on her feelings of happiness and satisfaction to her guests in every meal she prepares. Robalino notes the appearance and flavors of food are not the only hallmark traits of an excellent dish, but the feelings the meals elicit are equally important.
It is in the bliss of her work that Robalino thrives. Deriving from memories of her mother and her culture, she places her own unique flare on every dish she creates. “Anyone can say they produced a dish. Where I come from, the most appealing dishes are made with color and flavor, that’s the difference I aim to provide,” she said. “Take a simple French fry, for example. Some French fries are yellow; I want mine golden – that is representative of me, that’s my personal touch.”
At any given time, Robalino has numerous recipes on her mind; however, she finds it necessary to sometimes stray from the recipe based on how she is feeling and the needs of her guests in the moment. If a guest would like to try an entrée but is allergic to an ingredient, she is always willing to make an accommodation and find a way to make the dish for her guest rather than denying the guest that entree. She enjoys the challenge and the freedom to be creative with ingredients to ultimately appease the guest.
For more information about Tropicana Atlantic City, please visit Tropicana.net.
About Tropicana Atlantic City
Tropicana Atlantic City, a premier destination for relaxation and entertainment, spans six city blocks and is uniquely situated steps from the iconic Atlantic City boardwalk and beach. Home of The Quarter, one of Atlantic City’s largest non-gaming expansions, the multi-use complex features a colorful culinary scene, red-hot entertainment and nightlife venues, world-class shopping and spas. One of New Jersey’s largest hotels, Tropicana boasts 2,400 luxurious ocean-view rooms and suites in five hotel towers. The 24-hour casino resort offers 2,300 Slot Machines, an 18-Table Poker Room, 132 Table Games, an array of dining, retail, bars and lounges, 4 pools, 2 spas, the Tropicana Showroom, William Hill Sportsbook, an IMAX Theatre and over 122,000 square feet of meeting space.
Since 2013, Tropicana has completed an impressive $250 million in renovations across the sprawling property garnering national recognition including “Coolest Casinos in the World” by PopSugar, Cabana Five Bar & Pool Deck “No. 2 Best Hotel Pool” in the Nation by USA Today’s 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards and “Best Players Club” by Casino Player Magazine for four consecutive years.
About Eldorado Resorts, Inc.
Eldorado Resorts is a leading casino entertainment company that owns and operates twenty-eight properties in thirteen states, including Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. In aggregate, Eldorado’s properties feature approximately 27,500 slot machines and VLTs and 800 table games, and over 12,500 hotel rooms.
Founded in 1973 in Reno, Eldorado has been dedicated to providing exceptional guest service, a dynamic gaming product, award-winning dining, exciting entertainment and premiere accommodations. Our extensive management experience and unwavering commitment to our team members, guests and shareholders have been the primary drivers of our strategic goals and success. We take pride in our reinvestment in our properties and the communities we support along with emphasizing our family-style approach in an effort to build loyalty among our team members and guests. We will continue to focus on the future growth and diversification of our company while maintaining our core values and striving for operational excellence. For more information, please visit www.eldoradoresorts.com.
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