The 11th annual event brought together more than 400 club and resort chefs. Education sessions, culinary and club ideas, and networking opportunities were plentiful. In 2020, the conference will head to Charlotte.
The 2019 Chef to Chef Conference, held at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside, kicked off on March 10 with a reception and dinner keynoted by Chef John D. Folse, CEC, AAC, from John Folse & Company. Before the official start of Conference events, attendees were invited to attend sponsor sessions offered by KOPPLIN KUEBLER & WALLACE, VGM Club, Northstar, Spiceology, and The Montague Company, that shared relevant ideas, trends, and hot topics in the culinary industry.
Folse’s address, titled “Possibilities: The Life of a Chef,” entertained the audience with his compelling journey as a kid from the swamps to Louisiana to the height of the culinary world. Known for his willingness to try things other chefs wouldn’t, Folse opened the first American restaurant in the (then) Soviet Union ahead of historic talks between presidents Ronald Regan and Mikhail Gorbachev. (For those interested in watching Folse’s keynote address, you can view the Facebook event here.)
March 11 marked the first full day of conference sessions and kicked off with a cooking demonstration by Chef Russell Scott, CMC, The Club at Carlton Woods. His presentation was titled “Looking Closer: Staying Focused on the Key Culinary Details Amid Fast-Changing Trends and Technology.”
Scott was follder by Chef Kevin Walker, CMC, Ansley Golf Club, who discussed “Integrating Classic International Dishes into Everyday Club Menus.”
Walker was followed by a double session from Chef Charles Carroll, CEC, ACC, River Oaks Country Club. Carroll’s opening focused on “The Chef as Entrepreneur” followed by “Insights into Greatness,” an on-stage interview with Chef Isaac Toups, a restauranteur and author of the book “Chasing the Gator,” and Reinvention Radio founder and host Steve Olsher joining on Skype.
Jennifer Kopp, CEPC, Executive Pastry Chef at The Metropolitan Club, presented “Making the Traditional trendy: Putting a Contemporary Spin on Classic Desserts.”
The last session of Day 2 featured Chef Joseph Leonardi, CMC, Director of Culinary Operations at The Country Club. He discussed “Behind the Plate-up: Motivating and Challenging Your Kitchen Team While Keeping It Focused on the Common Goal.”
While the presenters each offered unique insight and inspiring content, the “Iron Chef” Mystery Basket Cookoff added a special touch to the day’s agenda. Chef Eva Barrios (Austin CC) and Chef Nelson Millán (San Antonio CC) took home the first-place prize of a Vitamix blender. Chef John Beck (Olympia Fields CC) and Chef Michael Ponzio (Medinah CC) were runners-up and secured the Spiceology prize.
Golf Channel was also on hand to document the event with host Kira Kazantsev, Miss America 2015, and Chef Jerry Schreck (Merion Golf Club) moderating the event.
Soon after the Iron Chef cookoff, the conference shifted off-site for an exclusive pop-up dining event at the Pythian Market. Small plates and signature cocktails were featured as chefs and guests meandered and mingled.
The final day of the Chef to Chef Conference featured six more sessions and six Chef to Chef Live events.
Chefs Nelson Millan (San Antonio Country Club) and Richard Jallet (Baltimore Country Club) kicked off Day 3 with a presentation titled “Be Our Guest! How Guest-Chef Events Can Invite Members, Guests and Staff to Memorable Occasions.” Both have visited the other’s club as part of this “win-win” opportunity. (See Be Our Guest (Chef))
The main dining room took a break for the second session of the day as Chef K. Scott Craig (Myers Park Country Club) discussed “Reinventing Your Snack Bar and Other Satellite Dining Venues.”
The Union Club of Cleveland’s Lawrence McFadden shared his experiences from across the globe in a speech titled “Food & Beverage for Today’s Luxury Customer.” McFadden has moved from the kitchen to become General Manager/COO.
Chef Instructor Daniel Pliska (Ozarks Technical College) presented “The Power of Synergy: Combining Culinary School Education and Professional Kitchen Training,” followed by Michael Ponzio (Medinah Country Club) who discussed “Changing Member Culture through Health and Wellness.”
Sharing the stage for the final session were Chef Jerry Schreck (Merion Golf Club) and Chef David Daddezio (Vicmead Hunt Club), who worked under Schreck at Merion. Daddezio presented “Out-of-the-Box Outdoor Events and Going Chaferless.”
Attending chefs moved to six smaller rooms for Chef to Chef Live, quick-hitting events. Todd Walline (Blue Hills Country Club), John Cornely (Charlotte Country Club), Greg Volle (Country Club of Roswell), Jason McClain (The Jonathan Club), Carpiu Chereches (Merion Golf Club), and John Wagner and Greg Garbacz (Sunnybrook Golf Club) rotated from room to room for intimate Q&As about pressing club issues.
Sponsors for the 2019 Chef to Chef Conference included Triar Seafood, PreGel, Spiceology, Cres Cor, Electrolux, Kopplin Kuebler & Wallace, Libbey Foodservice, The Montague Company, Northstar Technologies, Pierce Chicken, Sysco, VGM Club, and Villeroy & Boch. The conference moves to Charlotte in 2020.