C+RC’s Editor, Joanna DeChellis, shares six trends she believes will take shape in 2021 for club and resort chefs.
Broken crayons are still capable of creating colorful and vibrant images. And while 2020 “broke” a lot of things in our industry and beyond it, club chefs were still able to produce some beautiful results. In fact, some of the most successful ideas of 2020 were a direct result of the broken parts they had to work with.
The way club chefs responded to the COVID-19 pandemic has been breathtaking—but not all surprising. The club culinary industry has been replete with innovative ideas and savvy chefs for years. But how will the lessons learned in 2020 cascade into the months ahead?
I have some guesses.
1. To-Go Will Keep Going. In 2020, to-go programs shifted from a nice-to-have into a must-have. Going forward, they’ll continue to play an important role in how clubs serve members. We often talk here at WTWH about how we deliver content on users’ terms. I think clubs will adopt that same mindset and continue to deliver dining experiences on members’ terms.
2. Outdoor Dining Will Expand Again. Throughout the pandemic, we were advised to dine outdoors as often as possible. Even as things improve, I think it’s going to be a long time before members are totally comfortable eating indoors in close proximity to others. Which means, those patios are going to get bigger and better.
Compared to other segments of foodservice, clubs are uniquely positioned to respond to increased outdoor dining demand. With hundreds of acres out the back door, I see more progressive dinners, popups on vistas and tented dining rooms becoming the next big thing in 2021.
3. Events Will Return, But They Will Be Smaller. Regulations are different just about everywhere, but one thing is certain: Very few clubs are hosting huge events like they did in pre-pandemic days. Instead, events are more intimate and often feature served stations, packaged foods and carefully scripted menus and serving styles, to keep members safe and distant. I believe these smaller events will become the new normal for the foreseeable future, and club chefs will find really interesting ways to personalize each one.
4. Menus Will Be Tighter. With smaller teams, menus will be focused and changed more frequently. Seasonality won’t be a trend, it will be a way of life, and it will find its way into all corners of the menu—from to-go to family meals to private wine dinners to poolside offerings.
5. Supplier Relationships Will Be Stronger. The pandemic cast a giant spotlight on the dynamic between chefs and suppliers. These relationships are stronger now than they’ve ever been. This will continue through 2021 and beyond.
6. Chefs Will Take Better Care of Themselves, and Each Other. Most of the chefs I talked with last year told me the silver lining to 2020 was that they had more time to spend at home with their families. At the same time, the respect and care they have for those on their team at work grew tremendously. I think these relationships will continue to strengthen, and a whole new crop of Executive Chefs will rise up with leadership skills focused on a better work/life balance.
Club chefs are masterful dot-connectors. And in the coming year, you will continue to illustrate the most amazing rebound this industry has ever seen.