|Patrick Jamon, Executive Chef, The Regency Club|
The Regency Club in Los Angeles was founded in 1981 by David Murdock, a self-made billionaire who became the sole owner of the Dole Food Company after taking it private in 2003. After acquiring a taste for fine dining through his worldwide travels, Murdock’s idea for the Regency Club was to offer a private-membership dining club environment where families and business people alike could enjoy impeccable quality, service and elegance.
The 1,000-member club established its initial reputation through a succession of well-known American and French culinarians who served as resident, consulting and guest chefs. But for the past 20 years, the Regency Club’s stability and growth has been guided by Executive Chef Patrick Jamon, who was hired in 1987 after the accolades he received for his Los Angeles restaurant, Les Anges, got Murdock’s attention.
Since then, the two men have pursued a shared commitment to creating a world-class dining experience that now ranks as among the most prestigious to be found not only in Los Angeles, but the world. In a high-rise setting adorned with English antiques, Flemish tapestries and original masterpieces, and that offers spectacular panoramic views of the city and the Pacific Ocean from its Terrace dining area and other rooms, Chef Patrick has cooked for foreign heads of state and every U.S. President since Gerald Ford. (In France, he also cooked for Pablo Picasso and Charlie Chaplin.)
Now featured frequently in Bon Appetit, Gourmet and other publications that recognize his exceptional talent and commitment to excellence, it’s a pleasure to have Chef Jamon join us for this month’s “Chef to Chef” conversation.
Q Chef, you were handpicked by Mr. Murdock to be the backbone of The Regency Club, and in the twenty years since, you’ve exceeded all expectations. What’s been the secret to this successful partnership?
A The secret is that we are both professionals who strive to do every job to the best of our abilities. Like Mr. Murdock, I am an old-fashioned hard worker who constantly looks for new ideas. I strive to be honest and straightforward with not only him, but all of our members.
Q Even in a private club setting, your philosophy remains that of being a chef in a public restaurant. Are there differences between the two?
A The Regency Club competes with the best restaurants in the world. Our members travel all over the world and have had the best cuisine made available to them. So our approach has to be that there is no difference between a freestanding restaurant and the Regency Club—the quality of our product must be just as good, if not better, than any Michelin-starred restaurant.
Q You highlight many club events during the calendar year. Which stir up the most excitement among the membership?
A Being that we are a traditional business and social club, the events that feature unusual cuisine and wine are very popular with the membership. Our winemaker dinners give me the opportunity to pair boutique wines with my background of French techniques. However, we also do many themed evenings, featuring foods from around the world. I enjoy it because it gets me thinking outside of the box, and the members truly enjoy the variety that we offer.
We also have a great deal of fun with our traditional holiday event—the Gingerbread Workshop and Brunch. This a great event for adults and children of all ages. We provide a quality brunch, and my pastry team builds gingerbread house “shells” for people to decorate. That way, the people can just focus on the fun part of decorating—not the building of the structure. It’s an old-fashioned idea that really connects with today’s members.
Q Can you talk about some of your experiences with off-premise catering for members? Would you recommend this as a viable source of new revenue, for those that have not yet ventured into it?
A We have done hundreds of off-site catering events over the years. One of the most memorable was serving President George H. Bush at Mr. Murdock’s house. Through Dole Foods, Mr. Murdock happens to run the largest broccoli producer in the world—and as we all know, President Bush has gone on record as not being a fan of broccoli. But it was what we served to him nonetheless, and I was very proud to see that he enjoyed my broccoli and lobster appetizer.
I do suggest that clubs go to members’ homes and provide outside catering as a service. It is a unique way to learn more about members and their preferences, while also experiencing many monumental occasions in a family. Weddings, bar mitzvahs… the list is endless.
Q What are some changing member trends that you are having to adjust to at your club?
A A level of excellence was set by our founding members who established, and continue to enjoy, the Regency Club. Our new generation of members is always looking for more “action” as part of their dining and meeting experiences.
n Los Angeles, we are a city of “see and be seen.” It is a welcome challenge to create venues that can entice all ages to join a private dining club. The mix of generations that we now have here offers a civilized, yet energetic ambiance that encourages members of all ages to use the club as their primary venue for business and social entertaining.
Q What are some of the financial challenges you face at the Regency Club?
A My main concern is being able to pay my staff a living wage for a city that’s as big and expensive as Los Angeles. The way the city is built, it is a reality for many people to need to drive upwards of one to two hours to get to work – each way – because the more reasonable housing is in the farthest-reaching suburbs. I’ve been training my team for years, and I would hate to lose them because I cannot pay them enough to maintain a life balance between work, commuting and family.