The culinary offer at Hammock Dunes Club in Palm Coast, Fla., named to the coveted #1 Top Ranked Culinary Experience position, has experienced consistent growth thanks to a sharp uptick in membership since 2020. With growth comes food-and-beverage revenue, which now rests north of $3 million, up nearly $1 million in just a few years.
The culinary team creates innovative, outside-the-box concepts for the club’s nearly 750 members across fine dining, casual and family-friendly food-and-beverage outlets while remaining steadfast in service and quality. (See The Right Cook is in the Kitchen at Hammock Dunes Club.)
“The membership, culinary team and oceanside location make this club so special,” says Executive Chef Lance Cook, WCMC, WMCS, CEC, CCA, CFBE, FMP, CFSM. “Every effort is put toward enhancing the dining experience and service that are hallmarks of Hammock Dunes.” (See How Lance Cook “Makes Things Happen” at Hammock Dunes Club.)
Hammock Dunes specializes in continental cuisine, prepared using French techniques. The team is constantly sourcing new ingredients and learning different preparation methods to improve their skills and maintain their standing as club culinary leaders.
Chef’s tables have skyrocketed in popularity, promoted solely through word of mouth and fully booked through the season. Hammock Dunes hosts up to four weekly chef’s tables with seven courses. While these are a major draw for members, they’re also an important opportunity for the culinary team to work side-by-side with Cook.
Hammock Dunes sources specialty products for chef’s tables to expand members’ palates and to enable the culinary team to work with ingredients they might not have used before, says Cook, who takes the opportunity to educate the team on each ingredient, their various uses and ways of preparation. “For example, we got some head-on shrimp the other day and made a surf-and-turf with foie gras and cherry chutney.”
Hammock Dunes’ culinary team is deeply passionate about their skill development, Cook notes. This is further fostered by the club’s culture of learning and mentorship, with initiatives like a corporate membership with the American Culinary Federation (ACF) “for anyone on the culinary team interested in certification, competitions and other benefits.”
“They see my involvement in these organizations and want to be part of it,” notes Cook, who aims to lead by example.
This past year, the team’s overall skill level has increased in spades, partly due to the club’s newly refined method for attracting talent.
In building a Top Ranked team, Cook’s found success with tools like ApplicantPro, which extends a job posting’s reach across dozens of sites, as well as a new employee referral program, which offers bonuses to both referring and new employees based on longevity: $150 each after 45 days; $200 each after 90 days, plus a $150 gift card to the referring employee; $350 each after six months, plus eight hours paid wages for the referring employee; and $500 to the referring employee at the one-year mark.
The club has also raised wages and increased benefits, including reimbursements for bridge tolls, gym membership deals and certifications, all of which are paid for by a monthly service fee for members ($50 for single members and $75 for couples). Non-members pay a service charge at the time of the event for banquets.
Reflecting on this past year and Hammock Dunes’ Top Ranked Culinary award, Cook says he’s most grateful for the recognition of his team’s efforts.
Cook says this industry—and all those contributing to club culinary success—deserve applause. “I look at these clubs and resorts and think, ‘Wow, it’s an honor to be on that list.’”