As a newly minted Executive Chef, Anthony Capua has had an immediate impact on the operation at Sycamore Hills Golf Club—and he has big plans to continue the momentum.
They say there is no such thing as perfect timing.
This statement has resonated with me throughout my career, but especially so during the COVID-19 pandemic. I would have never guessed that my first Executive Chef position would be under these circumstances at a club located halfway across America. But here I am.
The road to my current role as Executive Chef of Sycamore Hills Golf Club (Fort Wayne, Ind.) has felt simultaneously long and short.
The “long road” started when my kitchen career began over 15 years ago. I was a dishwasher.
The “short road” can best described as more of a feeling. My culinary journey has feels like it has just begun.
I began the search for my first Executive Chef position after spending more than three years as Executive Sous Chef of Fiddlesticks Country Club in Fort Myers, Fla. I concentrated on areas with already progressive food scenes. These included clubs and resorts in Seattle, Washington, D.C., and south Florida. I went through many interview processes that were not the right fit. It was discouraging. My main goal wasn’t to have the title of Executive Chef. I was searching for supportive leadership and a club that wanted to truly make its culinary program a destination experience.
One late night I just so happened to be on LinkedIn posting about a wine dinner we had done. I came across a club opportunity in the Midwest. Being from Florida, the Midwest never seemed like a possible location I’d want to relocate to, but a colleague tagged me in a post and the general manager was intrigued enough to reach out. Don’t ever underestimate the power of social media.
The General Manager emphasized how this would be an excellent fit for a first-time executive chef and that he was a general manager that could help me make the transition from Executive Sous Chef to Executive Chef. Although I had stipulations in timing and location, my gut feeling told me to explore it further.
When I arrived at the club, I was blown away by the property and the course. I took a tour with the leadership team, had a quick lunch, and a general manager meeting. I knew this was a property I could see myself at. It just goes to show that the “long road” feeling sometimes leads you to a place you least expect.
The leadership at the club shares the same vision of the culinary experience I want to curate.
Another feeling was growing along with excitement—that was the feeling of uncertainty. As I was on a layover at the airport, restaurants started to close, and the insecure feeling of the pandemic was kicking in. I thought to myself, “How am I going to move my family in the middle of this chaos?”
As I arrived back in Florida, the feelings of uncertainty were in full force. Day by day, the pandemic was getting worse. I just kept thinking of the dream I had and that this could be the property that could help me accomplish that dream. I accepted my offer, and within three weeks had left my Fiddlesticks CC for a chance to make my dream a reality.
I look back almost five months later and think about how we got here. I am still amazed at the timing of it all.
Since beginning here at Sycamore Hills GC, my team and I have have launched new, modern a la carte menus, revamped the pizza program, introduced wine dinners, and even finished multi-day banquet events. We are working towards becoming a scratch kitchen and have made significant moves to get closer to that goal in a few short months. We have herb gardens near our golf shop, where members see us growing micro-greens and herbs for our kitchen. We fabricate all our fish whole and pasta is all made from scratch along with all stocks and sauces.
I work for extraordinary leaders that see all this and ask, “How can we push the envelope even more?”
I can now look back and say with certainty that although this journey started in the middle of a pandemic, the path is going to lead me to many years of striving for culinary excellence—I just never would have guessed it would have been in the Mid-west.