Since Javier Laurie, CEC, took on his first Executive Chef role with Indian Spring CC in August, he has been working toward establishing a culture of integrity and excellence.
I grew up in the gastronomic capital of the Americas: Lima, Peru. It’s a mecca and a playground for some of the greatest chefs in the world. The city is set against a stunning backdrop including the Andes, Amazon and coast. In Lima. Because of this we have access to amazing ingredients year-round thanks to 90 local microclimates. This makes the city one of the most culinarily diverse in the world.
I always knew that someday I’d become a professional chef. I have always loved to cook. When I was old enough and schooled enough, I emigrated to the United States of America to reach for my culinary dream and lead my own operation. I started in restaurants and eventually made my way into private clubs.
Being in South Florida, there is a large community of Hispanic chefs, but in private country clubs that number slims down substantially. Once I started in clubs, though, I knew I wanted to become the chef of one—and so I set out to achieve that title. The challenges I faced as a result of that decision were bigger than I anticipated and there were plenty of obstacles I had to overcome. Many of those obstacles formed my character and honed my skills so that I grew stronger and more intent on achieving my dream.
One of the biggest challenges was the difference in ethnicity in each club kitchen. These differences and the situations they presented fueled my desire to learn, understand, and evolve. Even though some of my beliefs were different and my culture was different, I have much to offer. And, with the right team, I knew I would find a common denominator where we all focus on great cuisine, memorable experiences and high-quality service.
Today, I’m the Executive Chef of Indian Spring Country Club (Boynton Beach, Fla.). And I’m proud of both this title and the people I have on my team.
As I mentored with other executive chefs through my career, I learned the importance of leading a multi-racial kitchen. I learned how to focus on excellence and build a thick skin so that my focus is unshakable. As a result of my culinary upbringing, I now feel a deep obligation to identify, develop and nurture every powerful skill I find in my team members so that we can collectively work toward excellence. This philosophy overrides sex, age or ethnicity.
It’s critical that my team and I understand the demands, expectations and member culture here at Indian Spring CC. These are the foundations upon which we build. It requires daily work and it’s a process that never stop. We must continue to satisfy our members’ expectations and consistently innovate while respecting tradition and one another.
I often say to my team, “The road to respect goes two ways: from the person requesting the pastrami carved extra lean, razor blade thin, to the cook smiling on as seven more members stand behind him waiting on, to the crucial way he places it on the plate.”
In clubs, we don’t have one boss, we have 400 bosses. And the only way to navigate that dynamic is focus on our team’s mission to respect on another and to uphold the integrity of our work.