Dallas National GC’s Paul Fisher is poised to emerge from the pandemic with a solid team, a healthy work/life balance, and his finger on the pulse of his membership.
When I began talking with Paul Fisher, we didn’t start with his impressive, long-standing role as Executive Chef and Food and Beverage Director of Dallas (Texas) National Golf Club, where he’s been for 13 years.
Instead, Fisher told me about how his culinary career began as a student at Johnson & Wales University in Charleston, S.C.
While earning a formal education, he worked as a cook at the storied Charleston Place Hotel.
That experience gave him a first-hand glimpse at the frenetic pace of food and beverage. His earliest experiences of cooking outdoors were at the colorful, historic homes in The Battery.
He realized then that learning how to make it work—no matter what it took—would serve him well for years to come.
Fisher’s career led him through six years of restaurant experience and then being at the helm of two different ClubCorp properties, before finding his home at Dallas National, which does on average $1.1 million in F&B.
Those early years in the trenches shaped Fisher’s philosophy on leadership, and informed the positive culture he has cultivated at Dallas National.
Focusing on hiring the person, and not the position, he says, has led to few callouts and low turnover, with those who leave doing so to continue their professional journey and with Fisher’s support.
“The key to successfully building a positive and professional culture is allowing the team to be a part of the hiring process,” Fisher notes. “We seek teammates who are upbeat and possess the flexibility to work with all of the personalities already in the kitchen. Work ethic and attitude are also essential.”
One of the most rewarding challenges for tenured chefs like Fisher is how to stay relevant to the membership and evolve over an extended period of time.
“I accomplish this by dedicating time at the end of each season to explore emerging trends and to map out what the future of our club could be,” he says. “One of our most rewarding off-season projects was when we explored the art and science of smoke. In Texas, you won’t make it far if you don’t have a solid brisket recipe.” And Fisher’s team now has great pride in the brisket they produce in their mobile smoker.
As a professional who is dedicated to health and wellness, Fisher also has a passion for Paleo and Whole 30 diets, which have both informed his menu direction.
“Many of our members strive to live a healthy and balanced lifestyle,” he says. “Our menu mix provides a balance between healthy items, not-so-healthy items, and everything in between.”
What advice would Fisher now give a younger version of himself? “Take the time to take care of your body, and especially your feet. Good health is a requirement to achieving longevity in this industry. Make the effort to achieve a sound work/life balance.”