Gerald Ford, CMC, Executive Chef of The Ford Plantation, has made a name for himself in the culinary world separate from the one he shares with a former U.S. President.
Gerald Ford, CMC, has been the Executive Chef of The Ford Plantation (Richmond Hill, Ga.) for the past nine months. He is also Captain of the American Culinary Federation’s Culinary Team USA 2020. A Culinary Institute of America graduate, Ford has competed in both hot- and cold-food competitions around the globe, is a gold-medalist ice sculptor, and the 2010 winner of the Les Amis d’Escoffier competition. He is also one of 72 ACF Certified Master Chefs in the country.
- The best part about having the same name as a former U.S. President is people generally remember me because people generally remember the name, The worst part is I am often asked if I am as clumsy as he was. (I’m not.)
- You’d be surprised to learn that I am an animal lover—especially dogs.
- If I could trade places with one chef it would be Francis Mallmann.
- My go-to drink is soda water. I love bubbles. Plus, my palate gets taxed daily, so I love the cool, plain effervescence.
- If I could change one thing about my club it would be my labor budget (but I am working on it).
- My favorite junk food is pretzels and potato chips, eaten together.
- My favorite celebrity chef is Thomas Keller, because he has been consistently great in every step of his career. He has failed and then built an empire. He is a great role model and has spent a lot of time giving back, building for the future and putting American food up against the best food in the world.
- My favorite ingredient is egg. Micro greens are the most overrated ingredient. Onion is the most undervalued ingredient. I detest durian, and I can’t live without fresh thyme or bay leaves.
- I don’t like to brag, but I have the most amazing fiancé.
- My most embarrassing moment in the kitchen was when I had to wear a burnt toast “necklace.” I earned it after burning two trays of crostini three days in a row. I donned the charred remains for two shifts. To this day, the smell of even dark toast gives me flashbacks.
- My favorite kitchen hack is the combi-oven. It is easily the hack of all hacks for almost everything.
- The most important thing in my kitchen is communication.
- The most valuable piece of advice I’ve ever received was from Ken Arnone, CMC. He said, “Focus on being a great cook. Spend time doing things with a standard of greatness. When peeling a potato, dicing an onion or making stock, do it to be great.”
- My worst culinary creation was sautéed shrimp and caramelized blue cheese. I wish I could forget how awful it tasted and how the smell never really left that apartment.
- My favorite book is Mastery by Robert Greene.
- When I’m not in the kitchen, I’m thinking about what I’m going to do in the kitchen.
- My biggest mistake when I first started as a chef was trying to do everything myself.
- I am motivated and inspired by books, cooks, Instagram posts, food, markets, ideas, challenges, and passion.
- One of my most memorable meals was at the Moulin de Mougins after an 11-week stage. It was my first Michelin-star dining experience. I saw how amazing food can be and the true potential of theatrical dining.
- My last meal would be difficult to pull together, but it would begin with “Uncle Pete’s Mongolian Hot Pot” served alongside my whole family, followed by my grandmother’s handmade pierogi, cooked by my mom, with melted butter and stewed sweet onions. After that, I’d want Bisteca a la Fiorentina with Tuscan potatoes, prepared with and eaten alongside the chefs I used to cook it with. I’d end my meal with a piece of banana cake with buttercream.
- I knew I wanted to be a chef when I watched Ed Janos, CMC, roast a chicken and make potato purée, green beans, and pan gravy. He blew my mind with how good all of those simple things could be.
- The most ridiculous member or guest requests I’ve ever had are ketchup on roasted venison, mint jelly for tenderloin, and quail eggs enrobed in gold leaf.
- I love being a club chef because I get to enjoy world-class establishments and the beauty that so many clubs uniquely possess. I have access to talented culinarians, great food products, and venues that allow my teams to produce well-executed, flavorful food. Country clubs also allow me to have more time to spend with my family.
- If I were stranded on a deserted island, I’d want these five foods with me: salt, chickens, onions, quinoa, and ginger.
- If I could have dinner with one person, dead or alive, it would be Dr. Tim Ryan.
- I’d like to see more club chefs competing or training their staff members to compete.
- My dream vacation would be a culinary tour of South America and its regional cuisines.
- I earned my CMC certification because I had to. The goal fueled me. I trained my whole career to prepare for it, and now that I have reached it, I realize more than ever before that the more I know the more there is to learn. I am—and will remain humbly—forever the student.
Romeo Deitz says
Nice photo of the chef working!!! Who took that picture?
Gerald Ford says
Photo credit goes to Noble Mouse, it is the PR firm we use at The Plantation. Specifically Russ Bryant.