Passion & Ingredients = A Sweet Wonderland

Chef Lynn Mansel

Chef Lynn Mansel

Mohegan Sun Casino
Chef Lynn Mansel (LM)
Executive Pastry Chef, Food & Beverage
1 Mohegan Sun Blvd
Uncasville, CT 06382

JM: Which three words or phrase would best describe your desserts/pastry menu?
LM: There’s an art to constructing the perfect dessert.

JM: What kind of decadent treats are on your desserts/pastry menu?
LM: The buffet has been renovated, serving 3,000-5,000 people per day. Desserts include molten chocolate, crème brûlée, tiramisú, pannacotta, crème caramel, trifles, chocolate mousse bombes, warm cobblers, cinnamon buns, orange rolls, bread puddings and many others.

Retail desserts include big wedding cakes to-go, birthday and anniversary cakes, and special 3-D cakes made daily.

JM: What are your most popular pastries/desserts?
LM: As we are a casino, we have a large range of desserts, including fine dining, buffet and comfort desserts; there is also a retail shop/coffee shop, but our biggest is our banquets as I create custom desserts for the customers with themes and desserts that complement who they are and what they stand for.

JM: What do you think is the key to the success of the Mohegan Sun’s pastry menu?
LM: Always thinking out of the box, thinking ahead and always challenging ourselves “to be the best” at what we do … we love
a challenge.

JM: What drives your culinary passion for pastry/desserts?
LM: My passion has always been there since the beginning, working with so many different nationalities in my training; it’s like an open book you want to keep writing and filling in. But the drive comes from listening to our guests; they challenge me to do my best.

I love a challenge and the passion of creating new things. The best is to see their faces when it’s done, and to know we did meet their challenge.

JM: If you could create any dessert/pastry to offer at the Mohegan Sun, what would it be?
LM: The question should read what haven’t we created in a dessert/pastry at Mohegan Sun.

My signature Chocolate Mousse is still in most areas, which I have used since the mid 1980s. But that’s just a drop in the pond of what is. Our warm chocolate drinks we have created in banquets blow people away. We have 20 flavors and growing. Our strawberry champagne mimosa is next, one of four new flavors for Mohegan Sun Winefest 2012, with many more
new ideas.

JM: If you could create a dessert/pastry-inspired entrée or side dish utilizing the quality ingredients you employ, what would it be?
LM: What I like: Peppered chocolate port sauce for
lamb; rich-sweet chocolate with a little heat; peppered red wine chocolate sauce for steaks, and the old classic, Beef Wellington.

JM: What kind(s) of restaurant/pastry trend(s) would you like to see develop within the industry?
LM: With the knowledge people have now in food a chef’s creativity is great for our industry. Visual action has always been my guide and rule of thumb; people like to see where the food is coming from, how it is done and how clean it is. A dessert restaurant where there’s a bounty of plenty. Action stations where you would go pay one price at the door and enjoy the splendor of all:
• Desserts in trios, on plates
• Gelato, ice cream and sorbet
• Cones that are colorful trios
• Dessert raviolis/crepes filled and served warm
• Ice wines/ports and dessert wines to complement
the exotic flair
• Cheeses

JM: Tell us a bit about the kind of experience Mohegan Sun visitors can expect from the restaurants/pastry department.
LM: For the guest walking into Mohegan Sun for the first time, it’s definitely a wake-up call, because you don’t expect what and how much there is … it’s a shock!

It’s the most impressive place I have seen – it’s over a mile long and has everything you could want, from fine dining to comfort foods, coffee shops, buffets, food courts, themed restaurants, pubs, ice cream shops; an arena which seats 10,000 people, and of course our high roller lounges (4), one of which is on the 34th floor and has an impressive view. As we say, we have what your budget needs are, so our guests can enjoy the most from Mohegan Sun. Our dessert list is endless as we support these areas.

JM: If you had a slogan, what would it be?
LM: Blowing Away the Customers, How Sweet It Is.

JM: What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned so far in business?
LM: Have an open mind, listen and be open to criticism. Your staff is the most important tool you have; give them all your knowledge and guidance to be a TEAM. And what a team we have − we strive for perfection.

JM: What do you think sets your pastries apart from others?
LM: We continue to look for new ideas and new styles, definitely keeping up with new ways. Also the most important thing is, know your customers and their needs and expectations.

JM: Is there an occurrence/business blooper you would most like to forget?
LM: Yes, the biggest was going into business with a friend. He decided to leave the company we built by taking all the payroll/taxes and whatever was outstanding in payments, then going to each company to collect what was owed. This was a big setback financially, and will always be the demon in my closet. Trust is one of the biggest things to lose and to build back.

JM: What is one of your most rewarding experiences/greatest success stories thus far?
LM: You could say we have a few:
• Guinness World Record holder Pastry Team
• Largest wedding cake in the world: 15,032lbs on
February 8, 2004. Seven tiers and stands 18’ high,
feeds 75,000 people with a 3oz portion
• 28’ gingerbread house, walk through with two
rooms inside
• 4’ x 7’ soldiers guarding the doorways
• Weathervane and four chefs made from chocolate
were on top. Since 2004 we create this every year
before Thanksgiving, and it stands for six weeks.
• Five chocolate dresses created and used in our
dessert display. Our chocolate dress girls would
present desserts to the guests by walking around the
area for 3-4 hours. One chocolate dress girl we used
in our NY Food Charity event was standing for four
hours with desserts.
• Others in chocolate competition

JM: What is the main thing you would want people to know about the pastry department at the Mohegan Sun?
LM: There’s an art to constructing the perfect dessert; we at the Sun shine at creating a sinful pleasure for everybody.