Sleepy Hollow CC takes the catered feel out of its outdoor events.
According to Alberto Tirrito, Executive Chef at Sleepy Hollow Country Club (SHCC), Scarborough, N.Y., there’s nothing worse than showing up for a buffet and having it taste like a buffet, especially when it’s an elaborate outdoor celebration.
To avoid this, Tirrito writes menus that make the most of outdoor and mobile equipment like barbecues and grills. Then he and his team focus on doing as much a la minute prep as possible.
But SHCC is home to 338 acres of picturesque hills and woodlands, and when an event is stationed at a venue like the club’s west lawn—far from any kitchen—challenges arise that demand creative solutions.
“We do dozens of outdoor events,” says Tirrito, who has been at SHCC for over seven years. “Most are on the west lawn, but others are on the course, by the wooden bridge or out by the skeet house.”
Regardless of an event’s location, no fête is too great a feat for SHCC’s culinary team, which will construct mobile kitchens—complete with prep tables, hand-washing stations, burners and refrigeration—whenever and wherever it needs to.
“The west lawn can seat upwards of 1,000 guests,” says Tirrito. “So, in addition to the mobile kitchens, we’ll also set up chef-manned action stations, which help to disperse the flow of traffic and lessen the volume on any one line.”
Outdoor events are set up in varying ways, using the ample supply of tables and chairs that SHCC keeps on hand. “We built a warehouse off the path of the golf house to store extra equipment, tents and furniture,” says Tirrito. “This gives us added flexibility.”
Most of SHCC’s outdoor events hover around 150 guests, Tirrito notes, but some are as small as 20. “I just had a member request a small pig roast up at the skeet house,” he reports.
To make sure food and equipment gets where it’s needed, Tirrito and his team reserve SHCC’s equipment van, which is shared with other departments, for one hour before an event.
“We meet each week, to talk through who needs to take what where,” says Tirrito. “And everyone else knows that they need to be finished and set up by the time we need the truck.”
Beyond fresh food and creative service, the only other challenge that SHCC faces is completely out of the staff’s control—the weather.
“Fortunately, we have tents and other contingency plans for when the weather doesn’t cooperate,” says Tirrito. “But we have to work extra hard to maintain the quality of our food when that’s the case.”
To make sure hot food stays hot and cold food stays cold, Tirrito and his key team members are all culinary school grads who are ServSafe®-certified. “We don’t fool around when it comes to the safety of our members and guests,” he says.