Executive Chef Olivier Andreini, CMC, has found many silver linings in the challenges posed by COVID-19.
Olivier Andreini, CMC, Executive Chef of Bentwater Yacht & Country Club in Montgomery, Texas, has worked in clubs for more than a decade. During his tenure he has worked with, taught, mentored and trained dozens of chefs—myself included.
Since COVID-19 upended many of the plans his club had for 2020, Andreini (pictured above left, with Gerald Ford, CMC) has been diligent in finding ways to learn and grow from this experience.
C2C: What has changed at your club since you presented at the 2020 Chef to Chef Conference in March?
OA: When we went into lockdown, our management team and staff reacted quickly. We shifted our dining program to curbside to-go with a dedicated new menu, new marketing campaigns and an ordering system that would allow members to place orders by phone and pick them up at the clubhouse’s main entrance.
C2C: What have been some lessons learned during this time?
OA: It’s interesting how things work out. This unusual situation has forced us to look at everything we do from a different perspective. When things do return to normal, we’re trying to decide what programs we’ll keep and what might not make the cut.
Our new virtual wine-and-charcuterie tastings are a good example. Our members love them. Had we not gone into lockdown, we may have never discovered or thought of such a thing.
We are also looking at how our menu will change when we fully reopen. Members are gravitating towards dishes that don’t fall into the category of traditional club food, so we will learn from this and replace the older dishes—like the Chef’s salad—with more modern fare.
C2C: How are you tracking compared to the budget?
OA: Our entire operating plan for the year was suddenly put on hold, so the impact has been significant. Daily covers in our grille, bar and outdoor patio were halted and converted to curbside, which created a void in alcohol sales. Large weddings and events were rescheduled or cancelled in the first few months, and those that did reschedule have downsized their guest lists. We’ve had to adjust staff requirements as a result.
But on a typical Wednesday night, to-go will do 120 to 160 covers, and because we are only using the kitchen and a few front-of-house staff, the numbers aren’t so bad.
C2C: Have you begun looking at 2021 budgets?
OA: The budgeting process is on hold. The 2020 budgets have been adjusted and function revenue has been removed. The current draft for the 2021 budget matches 2020. We’re doing this in order to have a realistic plan for sales, but our final budget is on hold until November so we can see how things play out into the last quarter.