After more than 13 years as Executive Chef of an old-line, traditional golf club, Marshall Violante packed up his knives and moved to Chicago’s Saddle and Cycle Club to begin a whole new culinary adventure.
As Executive Chef of Chicago’s Saddle and Cycle Club, Marshall Violante deeply values professional development and continuing education. He refuses to grow stagnant and pushes himself to conquer new challenges.
In fact, a little more than four years ago, Violante left the Executive Chef position with the Glen View Club (GVC) in Golf, Ill., where he had been for 13 years (see Another Great Reason to Go to “Golf”), to take on his current position at a club that’s worlds apart from GVC. And in the time he’s been with Saddle and Cycle, he’s had a profound and positive impact on elevating the club’s food-and-beverage profile.
Chef Violante also holds the distinction of having attended all ten of C&RB’s Chef to Chef Conferences since the event debuted in Las Vegas in 2009.
- You’d be surprised to learn that I have a satirical sense of humor.
- If I could trade places with one chef it would be Mossimo Bottura, an Italian restaurateur and the chef of Osteria Francescana, a three-Michelin-star restaurant in Modena, Italy. Listen to him talk about his food and his views on quality of life. He is truly one of the best in the world.
- One of my most memorable meals was many years ago. I was served a slab of prime rib and it was carved tableside. It was an electric turning point and a rite of passage.
4. My go-to drink is a proper negroni with Aviator Gin.
- My last meal would be a Neapolitan pizza.
- My worst culinary creation was a Fat Tire Beer Sorbet, because it was put on the wrong buffet and the kids ate it!
7. If I could change one thing about my club it would be the kitchen—its size, flow, design and honestly, its existence. It’s very difficult to do the caliber of work we do in the space.
- My favorite junk food is super-crunchy Cheetos.
- If I wasn’t a chef, I’d love to be a conch diver in Anguilla. Go if you have not been.
- I knew I wanted to be a chef when I watched my dad cook. He was a dentist, but he cooked like crazy, especially on weekends.
- You’ll never see sandwich loafon the menu at my club, because it was something I had to make when I first came to Chicagoland. Most local chefs are aware of this old-world “delicacy.”
- The most ridiculous member or guest request I’ve ever had was, “I’d like the chicken salad sandwich, but with no chicken.”
- I love being a club chef because the current generation of members demands much more of us and makes us all better culinarians. Gone are the days of old clubs with the “Booze and Butter” approach.
- When I’m not in the kitchen I’m on the golf course or on my bike, along the lakefront, in the summer. In the winter, I’m shooting skeet.
- My biggest mistake when I first started as a chef was undervaluing standards.
- If I could have dinner with one person, dead or alive, it would be my brothers. I lost two of them too early and they never really saw me do my thing. I love them and miss them and would love to have the ability to entertain them and their families.
- The most valuable piece of advice I’ve ever received was from a former president of a distinguished club. I was venting and once I finished he took a sip of his cocktail and said, “The private club world is not the real world, Chef.”
- My favorite celebrity chef is Marco Pierre White because he is the only one who can tell Gordon Ramsay to shut up.
- The most important thing in my kitchen are my core players. They work very hard for the cause—not for me. They have taught me to be demanding, but not demeaning.
- I want to learn more about classic historical architecture because Chicago has a ton of it, and I dig it.
- My favorite ingredient is pork butt and my F. Dick sausage press. Truffle oil is the most overrated ingredient. Patience is the most undervalued ingredient. I detest selective ignorance and laziness, and I can’t live without La Croix brand lime-scented club soda for me and my staff.
- The rules of conduct in my kitchen are respect the food source and each other. And absolutely no music. I abhor whistling.
- I don’t like to brag, but I was the beer-chugging and pizza-eating champ on campus in undergraduate school two years running.
- My most embarrassing moment in the kitchen was making rice pilaf with lemonade. Someone put it next to the chicken stock.
- I’d like to see more club chefs band together locally and share off-time together as comrades.
- My dream vacation would be a small European canal cruise with a lot of stops, then ending up in Amalfi with my new lady.
- My favorite movie/TV show is Somebody Feed Phil.
- My favorite kitchen hack is using two sour cream lids on top of one another to slice grapes or olives in half—well, most of them anyway.
- I am motivated and inspired by the importance of what I do daily.