Labor challenges are no secret to Chad Myers, Executive Chef of Dubuque (Iowa) Golf & Country Club, who tries to stay positive while overcoming staffing issues and moving his operation forward.
Can you believe it’s already the end of July? I certainly can’t. Where does the time go?
It feels like I was JUST preparing for our busy season, going through all the possible scenarios and challenges we might face this summer. Is the menu solid? Is working on the line going to work for me and my team? Do we have enough staff? Are they prepared for the hustle this time of year requires?
I feel like I blinked and the apex of the entire season is over. But it isn’t and challenges still remain.
Today was something of an anomaly for me as a chef. I took a half day and my family and I went to the movies together. My kids about fell on the floor when they saw me walk through the door at 5 pm. The chef lifestyle is all our family knows, so this was a real treat for all of us. Unfortunately, I found myself thinking about work and wondering if everyone would show up the following day, or if I order everything I needed or if that guy I interviewed is going to work out.
I know I’m not the only chef who goes through this. I think it’s a big part of being an Executive Chef. I am learning to embrace it and talking about it helps me to come to terms with it. It’s easy to dwell on all of the petty, negative stuff. But our focus needs to be on finding positive ways to move ourselves and our clubs forward.
I’m finding that there is usually a theme or lesson to be learned with each new season. This particular season has been all about staffing. There are articles and rants everywhere in our industry harping on staffing shortages exploring the whys, the hows, and the whats-next. We are no different here at Dubuque Golf & Country Club. We have plenty of staffing challenges, but we’re making it work with a cocktail of temp agencies, local nonprofits that help people get jobs, family, and friends in the industry. Together, we’re navigating this season—and we’re doing it pretty well, I think.
Maybe these staffing challenges are simply building blocks to help me grow and teach me what I am truly capable of. Do I wish that I had an all-star team to push out food like a well-oiled machine? You bet I do. But instead, I recently did a member-guest dinner with my sister (who burns water), my very inexperienced nephew, and prep help from a chef friend who was in town from Milwaukee for a wedding. It’s a pretty proud moment when I can knock out a plated dinner with a team like that and feel really good about the food we served. It’s a feeling that’s hard to replicate. We’re certainly not the Voltaggio Brothers, but for a night we pretended to be.
With a couple more months of summer left and plenty of challenges still on the horizon, I know that I have to stay positive. I have to take it day by day, challenge by challenge. Am I going to find replacements for the people who are leaving or have left? Yes, I will. But it will take time and hard work. In the meantime, we must focus on the big picture of what we want to build here with our food-and-beverage program. And we must put our heads down and work. It will also take some continued patience on my part to keep focused on the bigger picture and not dwell on the stuff that gets me fired up.
Plus, when the dust settles on the summer season and my foot comes off the gas a little, I’m looking forward to telling my kids what hotel pool we’re going to spend a few days floating in together while I close my eyes and think about how we’re going to overcome the next set of work challenges we’ll inevitably face.