Rome was not built in a day. Similarly, all great achievements in life, including building a significant culinary program, require time, patience, and maximum effort. In taking a leadership role in the club world, we understand that improvements may span 1-3 years, influenced by the club’s culture, status, and support from leadership and members. What can be accomplished in the first 90 days? There are three consistent steps to steer the program in the desired direction:
- Getting to know the members.
- Establishing the tone, expectations, and standards.
- Demonstrating to members what’s forthcoming.
You must step out of the kitchen to get to know your members. Engaging with our members on the floor has made a remarkable difference in my career. This approach involves two core objectives: proactively understanding and addressing members’ concerns and establishing oneself as the face of the culinary program. Members should know your identity, values, and vision for F&B within the first 90 days. This can be challenging after 12-16 hour shifts, but finding time for interaction before or after meals can be truly transformative. A personal connection between the chef and members streamlines communication and garners important feedback for guiding the program’s direction in a way that serves the membership best.
Next, setting the tone, standards, and expectations is crucial. While the past may occasionally cast a shadow, our leaders are responsible for focusing on the present and future. This involves intense hours, candid discussions, and overcoming various challenges. Beyond reorganizing culinary spaces or launching new menus, it’s about actively involving the team. Despite our administrative duties, early investment in our team is critical for shaping its future. My philosophy is clear: be fully present during service hours, showing my team that I am deeply committed to the program and their development within it.
Achieving a complete cultural transformation, finalizing all hires, and fully training staff within 90 days is ambitious. However, this period is crucial for demonstrating our future plans. Utilizing key events to showcase new concepts and ideas is key. Whether it’s introducing innovative buffet styles or the latest food trends, these moments are opportunities to present our vision to members and guests, even with an evolving team. This phase largely depends on the executive chef’s vision and ideals, providing the team with a role beyond mere employment to one offering excitement, growth, and the chance to transform feedback into innovative event ideas.
The first 90 days are crucial in establishing a tone that resonates for years. Echoing the words of a respected Marine Corps general, ‘If you’re not failing, you’re not even trying,’ perfectly encapsulates my experience. This phase can be simultaneously inspiring and daunting, filled with questions and uncertainties about our chosen direction. The essence lies in visualizing the potential, not merely the present state. My advice to any chef in a similar situation is to persist: persevere, embrace challenges, set a definitive tone, and confront issues head-on.