Chef's corner, Daniel Yates, Executive Chef – The Woodlands Waterway Marriott Hotel and Convention Center

As executive chef of The Woodlands Waterway Marriott Hotel and Convention Center, Daniel Yates works to produce both quality and quantity. Yates and his team of more than 40 cook a variety of meals for one of the busiest hotels, corporate meeting venues and social event facilities in the greater Houston area.

Yates serves meals to sometimes 10 banquets per day with anywhere between five and 500 attendees.

"On any given Friday or Saturday night, we have six or seven events and we could be cooking for 3,400 people per night," Yates said.

The key to feeding large numbers of hungry event-goers is preparation, he said.

"Logistics is the biggest challenge we have," he said. "We discuss things as a group, feed off each other and get ideas."


Yates learned his chops while working since he was a child with his father, a classically trained chef who went to culinary school in France. Yates worked in hotels and restaurants in Orlando, Fla., including the Orlando World Center Marriott. He eventually climbed the ranks to a Sous Chef position at Rivercenter Marriott in San Antonio.

At the Marriott

Yates was hired as Executive Chef at The Woodlands Waterway Marriott in May of 2012. Yates said he chose to work for a large company, rather than open his own restaurant, because of the benefits a large company offers, as well as the learning opportunities.

Favorite dishes

  • Braised short ribs- "I'm a big fan of the braising technique, a combination of dry and moist cooking. I braise short ribs with polenta and a nice reduction."
  • Char-crusted tenderloin- "We have had so many people ask for that, that one has taken off. We use a rub that we make that has a lot of sugar in it, use mesquite smoke and that caramelizes the rub. It looks black, but it's sweet and smoky."