PRIOR LAKE, Minn. (WCCO) — When you hear the sound of slot machines, you can’t help but look to see the buffet. It’s almost Pavlovian.

Executive Chef Richard Fisher says Mystic Lake has been planning the remake of their Casino’s buffet for months.

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“We have new pans, all small format,” Fisher said. “We actually have people in the food and beverage business from Vegas come out look at our buffet.”

Smaller pans mean more fresh food. Fisher’s been at Mystic thirteen years.

“We’re a lot more progressive,” he said. “The property has grown, you know, 10 fold since 13 years ago, so I mean we have twice as many restaurants. We’re doing twice as much volume.”

We got a rare look below the casino, in a commercial kitchen larger than any I’ve ever visited in Minnesota.

Their enormous dish-washing machine will clean about 500,000 dishes in a month. Fresh vegetables are chopped in huge amounts in one prep kitchen.

“We have our own farm, so we’re growing herbs and tomatoes and hot-house stuff and all kinds of squash,” Fisher said.

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Filets of steak butchered in another. They’ll make three- to four-hundred gallons of soup every morning.

The pastry and dessert operation is down the hall and is insane. Executive Pastry Chef Marshall Rosenthal says the casino has around 250 dessert items on-hand at any given time.

His team made 250 Minnesota Haralson apple pies on Thanksgiving. They finish them with pie-crust dough rolled out on a scroll so they can quickly get back to making pastries and mini-desserts by the thousands.

In a place where you never know if luck will be on your side, Mystic’s food keeps coming up a winner.

“Everything’s from scratch,” Fisher said. “I mean, there’s no shortcuts. We’re just bringing quality forward all the time.”

The normal buffet lunch is just $12. They do a Saturday brunch for $16 dollars, and Sunday’s champagne brunch is $20.

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And it’s not just for casino guests. You can bring your kids too.

Jason DeRusha