Dagan Lynn, the executive chef at Wyndham Orlando Resort International Drive, has spent the past 10 years building his culinary career at hotels in the United States and Puerto Rico. He has also worked in the kitchens of world-renowned chefs Alain Ducasse and Thomas Keller. With those experiences, he developed his own unique style that he brought with him to Wyndham nearly two years ago.
“I like user-friendly foods,” Lynn says.
Taking a walk through Wyndham’s halls, he is likely to run into someone complementing a meal he prepared. On one particular day, a hotel guest stopped him to rave about his signature chicken and dumplings, not only because it tasted good but also because Lynn took a dish that sounded simple and incorporated incredible technique behind it. He uses potato gnocchi, roasted chicken that he marinated in fennel pollen and a cream-based dijonnaise sauce. For Lynn, it’s all about letting the ingredients shine.
“It’s the technique – keeping things simple, being true to the ingredients and not letting the food get too confusing,” he says.
When speaking about one of his go-to side dishes, Lynn also notes that it’s one of his favorite food movies. In some ways, the Disney•Pixar film “Ratatouille” reflects his time spent working under Ducasse at his New York City bistro, which incorporated American classics with French techniques.
“If you’ve worked in some of these high-end restaurants, which I have, a female chef role is not an easy one,” he says of the movie’s main character. “The way she talks about how to cook and the struggle she has, I thought was pretty right on. I can relate to it.”
For Wyndham’s onsite restaurant Gatorville, for banquet dining or for offsite catering events, Lynn does what he can to source ingredients locally, whether it’s for the food or the beer selections. Doing this also brings one of his goals related to his menu full circle: keeping the Florida influence.
“It’s pretty impressive how many products you can get locally,” he says. “Florida has a lot of resources. It’s fun to be a chef down here.”
Lynn says he tends to cook simply at home. With three young children, he spends most of his time trying to hide vegetables in their meals – vegetables he purchases from the Winter Garden Farmers Market. But he goes all out when he’s on the job.
“If I can eat foie gras or make foie gras terrines, that’s my love,” he says. “That’s why I got into this business because maybe we didn’t have the financial background as a kid, so the only way to eat the food in the magazines was to go and cook it.”