C+RC’s ‘Industry Insights’ article in the May issue spotlights members of the next generation of club culinary leaders (p. 40 in print). We feature Chloe Dykes, Executive Chef of Lexington Country Club; Andrew Haapala, Executive Chef of The Country Club of Virginia; Mario Trujillo, Executive Sous Chef of Cullasaja Club; and Devonnare Burgos, Sous Chef of Detroit Athletic Club.
These chefs describe coming of age at a transitional time in the culinary industry, when kitchen culture began to shift. Mental health and work-life balance are at least part of the conversation, if not yet ubiquitous. Technology is a given.
These chefs are fortunate to work with or be mentored by great culinary leaders throughout their careers. Trujillo currently works with Executive Chef Scott Craig, CEC, CCA, WCMC, who also worked with Haapala earlier in his career. During culinary school, Trujillo considered Executive Chef Shawn Loving, CMC, a mentor, who now leads Burgos at Detroit Athletic Club.
Many of these chefs have also worked with great chefs outside of the club world. Still, some chefs describe struggling to find significant mentors at the start of their careers.
“I think [mentorship] makes a big difference,” Burgos notes, “to have somebody give you advice and push you in the right direction. … It’s how a lot of information is passed and learned.”
There’s no one way to find or become a mentor, but the consensus seems clear: Chefs who make and maintain these connections consider themselves better for it.
“I’m very grateful for every single person who has taken the time to look out for me, or even given me advice here or there,” Trujillo says. “It’s impossible to measure how much that impacted my career and growth.”
If you’re a young chef struggling to find guidance, here’s what others have found helpful: Reach out directly to the leaders around you. Become active on social sites, especially LinkedIn, and connect online with chefs you admire. Attend industry events to expand your circles.
Finally, if you are a culinary leader, try to make yourself approachable and available to those around you. It matters more than you might think.
Thank you, as always, to the chefs who shared their stories. If you work with a young culinarian you believe deserves recognition, please reach out. Or, if you want to provide your own perspective, or get involved with Club + Resort Chef or Chef to Chef in some way, let us know. We’d love to hear from you.