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Best in the Kitchen

An ongoing survey by category

(page 5 of 5)

Best Banquet Chef

Norman Nichols II: Paragon Casino Resort in Marksville

Chef Norman Nichols II has traveled the world in his career, helming kitchens on major cruise lines; opening casino hotels in Niagara Falls; and working for 12 years in some of Manhattan’s finest – the Waldorf Astoria, the United Nations Plaza Hotel and the Metropolitan Opera House.
    
Nichols brings his 46 years of worldwide experience in the hospitality and casino industries to the vast collections of banquet service and dining venues at Paragon Casino Resort in Marksville. And although his culinary styles run the international gamut, much of his Paragon offerings will be South Louisiana cuisine, due to clientele from the surrounding areas.
    
“You have to maintain the local cuisine because of demographics,” Nichols explains.
  
Nichols is no stranger to Cajun and Creole cuisines. His Louisiana experience includes re-launching the Harrah’s Casino in Lake Charles, opening casinos in Baton Rouge and Shreveport and serving as a consultant in New Orleans. Nichols has even taught Creole cooking in Hong Kong.
    
At Paragon, he’s working to update the catering menus and offer more fresh ingredients and more variety.
  
 “We’re trying to take it to the next level,” he says.
    
Nichols recently cooked with Troy Landry, star of the History Channel’s reality show Swamp People, for a special demonstration in the casino’s Mari Showroom.
    
“I enjoyed working with him,” Nichols says. “He has a great knowledge of Cajun cuisine.”
    
Nichols is a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals and the James Beard Foundation. He is a certified executive chef with the American Culinary Federation and a Commandeur and Vice Conseiller Culinaire with Confrérie de la Chaîne des Rôtisseurs.
    
Will small-town Marksville be enough for a chef of the world?
  
 “There are a lot of places smaller than New York,” Nichols says to put things in perspective. “I’m very happy to be here.”
    
For more information on Paragon Casino Resort, visit paragoncasinoresort.com.

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