Known for its stellar gaming tables, video poker and slots, the Isle of Capri® Lake Charles is one of the most popular places to host an event, wedding or celebration.
Yet behind all the glitz and glamour of the casino lies a world most visitors never get the opportunity to see: the kitchen. This is where all the food is prepped for thousands of visitors, young and old. With the Isle’s many events and promotions, the kitchen is one of the areas of the casino where workers strive to make their guests’ stay as pleasurable as possible.
We recently had the opportunity to sit down with the Isle of Capri Lake Charles’ resident pastry chef, Chef Tanya, and pick her brain about the bakery's greatest challenges, most creative desserts and favorite dishes.
Chef Tanya’s bakery is a well-oiled machine. Not only does she stand at the helm of a major bakery inside one of the largest casinos on Lake Charles, her staff is comprised entirely of women. A team of eight bakers makes nearly every dessert, bread and pastry onsite literally from scratch. This team of powerful women supplies the casino and gaming floors with baked goods that are so tasty they have the ability to turn heads away from tables for a few moments. They also supply all the restaurants and onsite events with baked goods, too — even wedding cakes!
Since the chef and her bakers are up at the wee hours of the morning and are awake far later than even some of the gamers, they pride themselves in producing extremely fresh creations. While freshness may be a key ingredient to Chef Tanya’s success, she's also proud of her amazing creativity. You won’t see the average run of the mill baked goods at Isle of Capri. And of course, the cookies and cakes are lip-smacking delicious.
Anyone who grew up south of Ohio will appreciate the chef’s signature bread pudding dish, a sumptuous dessert made from soft and springy homemade bread, butter, sugar and eggs. It’s like a fruit crumble without the fruit. Leave your carb-free diet at home because you won’t be able to say no.
Though Chef Tanya is in charge of the baking department, her culinary talents don’t stop at the oven. One of her favorite non-dessert dishes to make is handmade pasta.
Just in case you haven’t guessed how talented this chef is yet, her dossier might shock and impress you. That’s because Tanya had no formal culinary training. She credits most of what she knows to watching her grandmother cook while she was growing up. “My primary inspiration is my grandmother,” she said.
But she can’t give Grandma all the credit. Her teacher and mentor, Anna Dominguez, another local pastry chef, is the woman who taught Chef Tanya all of her tricks.
Straight out of high school, she began working at Harrah’s in Lake Charles. From there, she worked her way up to pastry chef. Though her love for baking and creating was one of her biggest inspirations for entering the industry, it was really her love of people that propelled her into the world of butter and flour. When asked what made her enter the culinary world as a profession she answered, “My passion for baking and creating and seeing joy on other people’s faces.”
While Chef Tanya has much to brag about, including a life working her way up through the ranks and total reign over one of the largest baking departments in the area, it’s not her accomplishments that make her proud; it’s her team. The eight women Chef Tanya has the privilege of working with every day are the reason she continues to better herself and her kitchen.
Visit the Isle of Capri Lake Charles, and get your hands on some of the best bread, pastries and bread pudding on this side of the river. While you’re at it, you might want to try a hand at some video poker or one of the many table games. IOC Lake Charles is the premiere place to enjoy a night out on the town, without ever needing to leave the comfort of your hotel grounds.