What separates The Country Club (Brookline, Mass.)—host of the 2022 U.S. Open—from others is its team’s ability to perform in high-pressure situations, whether on the course or in the kitchen.
Joseph Leonardi, CMC, AAC, Director of Culinary Operations, is a prime example. He has been with TCC for over six years and has accomplished much during his tenure. He says a great deal of his success comes from his ability to prepare and plan, be organized and intentional, and consistently meet the demands of challenging situations.
Take his approach to sous vide cooking. When Leonardi was a member of the American Culinary Federation (ACF) Culinary Team USA, he learned much about sous vide and was introduced to RATIONAL combi ovens during his time abroad.
“The ease of use and the efficiency of the RATIONAL combis impressed me,” says Leonardi.
Up to that point, TCC relied on circulators for sous vide cooking. Leonardi was eager to replace the circulators with equipment that would be simpler for his staff of more than 30 cooks to use while also delivering consistent results.
“I went to a RATIONAL training in Chicago where I was able to spend time with the corporate chefs,” says Leonardi. “I took what I learned there and created a presentation for my General Manager and Board here at TCC. I explained the impact these ovens would have on the operation and how that impact would far outweigh the cost. I showed them that if we had these units, we would save on labor and improve quality and consistency for the long term.”
The club approved the purchase, and Leonardi invested in two RATIONAL iCombi Pros. The impact was immediate. TCC’s culinary team could cook with more control and precision on a larger scale than ever before.
A few years later, TCC invested in another two units, and just before COVID, the club added a self-venting unit to its combi arsenal.
“We chose the self-venting unit so we could place it in an area of the kitchen that’s accessible by both garde manger and banquets,” says Leonardi.
Because the combis can bake, roast, grill, deep-fry, poach and sous vide, they’re helpful to all parts of the operation. TCC chefs and managers can also log in to ConnectedCooking—RATIONAL’s secure online platform—to check recipes, update software and access HACCP data from their smartphones.
“I can’t speak for other clubs, but for me and my staff here at [TCC], these units are vital to our HACCP program,” says Leonardi.
When TCC first purchased the units, Leonardi relied on many of the pre-programmed recipes. As he and his team have grown more comfortable with the ovens, they have developed many of their own recipes, which Leonardi programs into the units. In doing so, TCC maintains consistency across menus no matter the cook’s skill level in the kitchen.
“For any chefs considering purchasing a RATIONAL, it’s a no-brainer,” says Leonardi. “Our units have helped us improve so many different parts of the operation. They make our recipes foolproof and our operations more efficient. I can’t stress enough how impactful they have been here at [TCC].”