After three educational days geared toward club and resort chefs, the 2020 Chef to Chef Conference culminated with the 2021 Chef to Chef location announcement.
The 2020 Chef to Chef Conference, held at The Westin Charlotte (N.C.), kicked off on March 1 with a reception and dinner keynoted by Chef, Author and TV Personality Michelle Bernstein.
Bernstein’s presentation explored the drive and passion it takes to be chef. She shared insights into her career, the industry and what the future of the culinary craft might hold for those willing to put in the work.
Prior the keynote, attendees were offered the opportunity to learn from top food-and-beverage and club industry suppliers through a series of pre-conference workshops hosted by Club Procure, Sterno, Northstar, Spiceology, The Montague Company, Electrolux, Triar Seafood and Prosciutto di Parma. Each session shared relevant ideas, trends, and hot topics geared toward the special needs of the club and resort culinary industry.
March 2nd marked the first full day of conference sessions. The day began with a presentation by Edward Leonard, CMC, Director of Culinary Operations and Executive Chef of The Polo Club off Boca Raton (Fla.) in which he discussed “Leadership vs. Management / Innovation vs. Creativity.”
“Long-term success today, even in clubs, is about branding, variety and creating a lasting member experience,” says Leonard. “This session helped chefs learn how to maximize the factors that will help them create a distinguishing culinary brand, both for their clubs and themselves.”
Leonard was followed by Paul Verica, Chef Owner of The Stanley, a Charlotte restaurant. His presentation—From Club Chef to James Beard Nominee—included an ingredient-focused cooking demo that offered up many innovative plating ideas and concepts.
Olivier Andreini, CMC, Executive Chef of Bentwater Yacht & Country Club in Montgomery, Texas, then gave a presentation entitled “A Master Chef Inspired Club Dinner” where he walked attendees through his menu engineering process.
Capping the speakers was Travis Peterson, The Nomad Cook, who presented “An Introduction to CBD and Terpenes from Canada’s Cannabis Chef.” Chef Petersen spoke on and demonstrated recipes for dishes that include thc, cbd and terpenes, while highlighting the responsibility of the chef for ensuring accurate dosing.
Monday afternoon, attendees then had the a unique opportunity to get an up-close, exclusive look at the food-and-beverage operations of three of the city’s leading clubs during the first-ever “Inside the House” club tour featuring Quail Hollow Club, Carmel Country Club and Myers Park Country Club.
For the tour, attendees were bused in smaller groups to each property where the host club’s Executive Chef, with support from the General Manager and others on the Food & Beverage staff, showcased the unique elements of that particular property’s F&B operation, including a look at how both the front and back of the house are set up.
The second day of the conference began with a presentation by Michael Matarazzo, CEC, Executive Chef, Farmington Country Club, Charlottesville, Va., who addressed the unique challenges that club chefs face recruiting new team members. He also offered creative ways to overcome those challenges and uncovered strategies for retaining staff by staying relevant and providing a quality of life and balance that is often overlooked. While addressing life quality and balance, Matarazzo shared some touching personal experiences that related to the importance of self-awareness and mental health.
After Matarazzo, J. Kevin Walker, CMC, AMC, Executive Chef of Ansley Golf Club, Atlanta, Ga., offered a presentation with a cooking demo that discussed how the next generation of culinarians react to explicit direction and information. Walker provided tips for how to keep everyone focused on the same mutual goals in a productive and rewarding, team-first environment.
As part of his presentation, Chef Walker then presented a cooking demonstration on multi-use condiments and plate finishes.
After a short break where attendees were able to interact directly with sponsors, Rhy Waddington, Executive Chef of Winged Foot Golf Club, Rye, N.Y., moderated a panel discussion on Women in Hospitality: Promoting their Success and Impact.
During the panel, Waddington shared the stage with Chrissie Bennett, Executive Sous Chef of Winged Foot GC, Colby Newman, Executive Chef of Grosse Pointe (Mich.) Yacht Club and Dana Iannelli, Pastry Chef of Addison Reserve Country Club. Waddington and the panel discussed each of these chefs’ career experiences, exploring the real issues women face in the culinary industry.
After the panel, James Hudock, Executive Chef of Gibson Island Club, demonstrated a proven technique for streamlining kitchen operations—and reducing stress and miscommunication for all members of the culinary team, while also improving delivery and performance for F&B programs—through a digitally based system for managing workflow.
As the final presentation for the day, James Allen, CEC, Executive Chef of Blackthorn Club, Jonesborough, Tenn., encouraged attendees to “Play with their Food,” offering ideas and dishes that chefs took back home to add new appeal to their menus and new fun to their events, too.
Positioned between on-stage presentations and the Iron Chef Cook-Off, attendees gathered in break-out sessions for Chef to Chef Live. Five speakers rotated from room to room to share their experience with each group.
The event then wrapped up with the popular Iron Chef Cook-Off in the Grand Ballroom where four two-person teams, staggered in 20-minute waves, battled for the title with J. Kevin Walker, CMC, AMC, Executive Chef of The Ansley Club in Atlanta, Ga. and Scott Craig, CEC, CCA, WCMC, Director of Culinary Operations of Myers Park Country Club in Charlotte, N.C. emerging on top. They defeated Jason Neal from the Providence Country Club and James Patterson of Sedgefield Country Club in the finals.
Mark Mathurn of Eastward Ho! Country Club, Pedro Sanchez of Brae Burn Country Club, Danny Profita from Merion Cricket Club and Kelly Morrow of Tavistock Country Club also competed.
Chefs Walker and Craig took home the first-place prize of a Vitamix blender, while Chefs Patterson and Neal secured the Spiceology prize. After the cookoff, winners were announced for the 2020 Chef to Chef Sponsor Raffle and the 2021 dates and location—March 7-9, 2021 at the Austin (Texas) Marriott Downtown—for the 2021 event were announced.
The 2020 Chef to Chef Conference had a record number of sponsors. Club Procure, Sterno, Northstar, Spiceology, The Montague Company, Electrolux Professional, Triar Seafood, Prosciutto di Parma, 3 Badge Beverage Corp., Bush’s Best, Chef Works, Cres Cor, Kopplin Kuebler & Wallace, Libbey, Mountain Waffle Co., Pierce Chicken, PreGel, Sysco and Villeroy & Boch are supporting the conference.