In my role as a frequent contributor to Club & Resort Business, I plan to make it a regular practice to contact my counterparts around the country to get ideas on how they approach the common challenges that we all face as executive chefs in club and resort settings.
Certainly, one of the biggest challenges that any of us ever takes on is menu and meal preparations for large-scale events held at our clubs. Just getting ready for a corporate outing or annual member-guest tournament is challenging enough—but what about when a major USGA event like the U.S. Open comes to your facility?
I recently had this exchange with Scott Rowe, Resort Executive Chef at Pinehurst Resort, about how his department prepared for that Championship, being held this month (June 16-19) at the North Carolina resort’s famous No. 2 course.
Q: Scott, how long have you been at Pinehurst? A: I started at Pinehurst as Resort Executive Sous Chef in May 2003 and became Resort Executive Chef in October 2004.
Q: Can you tell me briefly about your background? A: I started working at the local country club in my hometown of Williamsport, Pa., in the summer of 1979. After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America in 1989, I worked in the Washington, D.C., area from 1991-2000 at various establishments, most notably for seven years at The Ritz Carlton Hotel in Tysons Corner, Va. (‘91-’98). Then I left the Ritz to work with the PGA Tour in their Tournament Players Clubs (TPC), starting as Executive Sous at TPC at Avenel in Potomac, Md., and then relocating to North Carolina as Executive Chef at the TPC at Wakefield Plantation.
Q: For this year’s U.S. Open at Pinehurst, can you briefly describe who you will be feeding during the Championship week? A: The players and their families, of course, plus many large corporate groups such as Duke Energy, Bank of America, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Sprint, Wachovia….just to name a few.
Q: How large is your Championship staff going to be? A: Resort-wide we will have approximately 110 culinarians and 60 stewards. In the front of the house we anticipate having approximately 180 to 200 service personnel.
Q: How will you be supplementing your full-time staff with extra help? A: We have been building relationships with culinary schools across the country for several years now to help us with our normal busy seasonal staffing needs. In the culinary department we now supplement our full-time staff with interns from various culinary schools like CIA, Johnson and Wales, Pennsylvania Culinary and Indiana University of Pennsylvania. These relationships will help supplement our staff during the week of the Open, and we will also be able to pull additional help from within ClubCorp, our parent company.
Q: What are some of the challenges you’ve faced during the planning process for an event like the Open? A: Mostly logistics—the hows, wheres and what-ifs associated with a large, multi-outlet resort and handling such a high-profile golf event. Purveyor deliveries, trash removal, extra refrigeration, employee parking and employee shuttles are just a few of the many challenges we have faced. Employee meals, too—just how to feed such an increased workforce is also a big challenge.
Q: What are some of the signature items that you’ll be serving at the Open? A: Our signature items here at Pinehurst are traditional Old South favorites, including: Pinehurst stuffed French toast with strawberry and peach cream cheese; buttermilk pancakes; Southern-fried buffalo chicken salad; Cajun-style catfish Po-boy; Vidalia onion soup, Carolina pot pie with rabbit confit, peas and root vegetables; dry-rubbed pork tenderloin with garlic spoonbread and mustard greens; Carolina mountain trout; and Freestone peaches and whipped cream. (The Pinehurst recipes for spoon bread and peach and pecan vinaigrette are provided at right.)
Q: How much have you talked about contingencies for bad weather? A: Culinarily, we will need to have backup staff and be ready with backup food due to the influx of people who might need to come into the clubhouse to get shelter. Also, the USGA has a tremendous evacuation program to help spectators find shelter and get to their cars.
Q: What roles have purveyors played in making it easier for you during Championship week? A: Our purveyors have modified their delivery times at the main clubhouse so they won’t disrupt play with truck noise, etc. Also, they have worked with us on our menus, reviewing them to be sure they will have all of the goods we need and the higher-than-normal volume that we will require.
Q: What other large events have you hosted this year because of the Open? A: One of our groups would be The Presidents Council, which consists of many influential business leaders from North Carolina, representing the best of the best. They also represent a large segment of our business here at Pinehurst and help us tremendously with our corporate sales.
Q: How are the Pinehurst members handling having their club turned “upside down” this year? A: The opportunity to host the U. S. Open only comes around every 8 to 10 years, and our members are excited and proud to be able to showcase their club again so soon after having the 1999 Open here.
Q: Anything else you can share about how you envisioned going into this year to prepare for the Open, versus what you’ve actually been doing? A: We were fortunate to have already hosted our National Championship so recently, and we’ve been drawing on our experiences from that week in 1999. Plans for this year have been progressing well, and we anticipate another wonderful week in 2005.
Jerry Schreck is a member of the Club & Resort Business Editorial Advisory Board and writes frequently for C&RB on club-specific culinary topics. Have a topic you’d like to see Jerry address in a future issue? A question about a specific F&B challenge you’re facing at your club? Or would you just like to invite Jerry to visit your club sometime to exchange ideas? Write to him at [email protected]