Photo from the inaugural Chef to Chef Conference
…didn’t stay in Vegas, as those attending C&RB’s inaugural Chef to Chef Conference took away an abundance of F&B insights and innovative culinary techniques to use at their properties.
Club & Resort Business’ first-ever Chef to Chef Conference, held during the last week of February at Las Vegas’ Red Rock Resort, literally began serving up useful ideas with the opening reception; the full-course buffet was built around international stations and dishes from a menu designed by leading club and resort chefs who, in addition to advising on the conference agenda, also provided direction for all meals and receptions during the event.
Billed as an educational and networking opportunity “for club chefs by club chefs,” the Chef to Chef Conference delivered on this promise with content devoted to practical, club-specific, experience-based insights into key issues for food and beverage success in today’s clubs and resort settings.
The conference’s keynote speaker, Billy Strynkowski, Executive Chef of Cooking Light Magazine, kicked off the educational program with a presentation on “Emerging Trends No F&B Operation Can Ignore.” Conference attendees then gained exclusive insights into the successful working relationships between the front and back of the house at two of the industry’s most exemplary F&B operations.
First, a case study presented jointly by Oakmont (Pa.) Country Club’s General Manager Tom Wallace and Executive Chef Tom Pepka provided fascinating insights into how a relationship that was initially adversarial between the management and culinary sides of this storied club evolved into a close working relationship that helped to double Oakmont’s F&B revenues over a five-year period—and also create the synergies needed to serve 50,000 meals in one week while the club hosted the 2007 U.S. Open.
Similarly, a joint presentation by General Manager Ted Gillary and Executive Chef Kevin Brennan of the Detroit Athletic Club (DAC) outlined the unyielding standards and tight teamwork through which DAC has built an F&B operation that now has over $7 million in annual revenues and was a major reason why the club was recently honored with the Michigan Quality Council’s 2008 Quality Leadership Award.
The conference agenda (for which attendees, in this and future years, can earn continuing education credits from the Club Managers Association of America and the American Culinary Federation) then featured presentations by leading club and resort chefs on a variety of timely and specific topics. Some of the best ideas from these presentations (which covered subjects including catering, takeout, buffets, events, small plates, casual fare and menu design) are highlighted in the Food & Beverage section of this special Ideas Issue; others were featured in C&RB’s March issue.
In another presentation, Michael Redmond, CEC, who has advanced from club chef positions to now serve as Assistant General Manager, Food & Beverage for the Metropolitan Club of Washington, D.C., teamed with David Meyers, a former club chef and GM who now specializes in placement of culinary management talent, to provide tips on how to make the most of a career in club or resort F&B management.
Conference attendees were also treated to a preview of an upcoming book, The Club Menu, featuring signature dishes from America’s leading clubs. A second book on signature club beverages is also planned, author Scott Savlov reported.
The Conference also featured a special live version of C&RB’s popular “Chef to Chef” feature, moderated by Jerry Schreck, Executive Chef of Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa. The two-hour panel discussion generated an abundance of audience participation on a variety of subjects.
Breaks between sessions gave attendees ample opportunity to network with fellow chefs from around the country (properties from 27 different states were represented) and to check out new products from conference sponsors Cres Cor, Villeroy & Boch, Holten Meats, Inc., and Cleveland Menu Printing.
When it was all over, attendees were already buzzing with anticipation about next year’s event (visit www.cheftochefconference.com for updates on the dates and location for the 2010 Chef to Chef Conference, in addition to photos and additional content from the 2009 conference).
“As the word spreads to the culinary community, the Chef to Chef Conference will become a date to book in every chef’s calendar,” said Philippe Reynaud, Executive Director of Culinary Operations at Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo, Fla. C&RB