Club chefs, like Lawrence McFadden, CMC, tend to be gritty people who continue to put one foot in front of the other until they find success.
This past spring, the U-10 girls soccer team that I coach was placed in the top division of our league. Last season, we went undefeated. Then this season we lost our first game, 7-0. Then we lost the next game, 17-0. And so it went, match after match, loss after loss. We were in way over our heads.
It was brutal. By the end of the season, we had only scored three goals total while letting up 33. Despite the losses, this crew of 10-year-olds never gave up. They showed up to every single practice determined to improve as players and as a team. We, as coaches, reached out to our local high school’s varsity coach to get more guidance and help. The players doubled down on their technical training, on the pitch and off. And they showed the coaches, the parents and the fans the true meaning of grit and resolve.
We still never won a match this season, but we learned a great deal. Much of what the team achieved this season can’t be tallied on a scoreboard, but it will serve each of the players for years to come.
Similarly, much of what club chefs are facing right now—as we surface from a global pandemic, only to be faced with labor challenges, supply-chain issues and rising costs—will transform the industry and those in it for the long term.
Chefs are gritty people. Take Lawrence McFadden, CMC, GM/COO of The Union Club of Cleveland (Ohio), for example. I’ve known McFadden for years. He’s has been an important contributor to our blogs, podcasts, conferences and strategic plans.
When he won the Mel Rex Award for Excellence in Club Management (ECM), I was thrilled, and Joe Barks, Editor of Club + Resort Business, asked me to write the profile on McFadden that appears here.
Through this process, I learned about McFadden’s transition from cook, to apprentice, to chef, to Certified Master Chef, to manager, to Excellence in Club Management award winner. Talk about grit—McFadden went from being the guy in the whites who everyone considered a rock star to the guy in a suit who has to make sure everyone is happy all of the time.
Yet he persevered, even when colleagues warned him it wouldn’t be an easy transition. He doubled down. He found strong mentors and took calculated risks that he believed would benefit him in the long run.
As GM/COO of The Union Club, McFadden has achieved immense professional success. He is a kind, tenacious person who views his role in our industry more as a calling than as a career. For him, being the manager of The Union Club is an avenue to give back to the club community—both to chefs, members and managers alike.
During our interview for his ECM profile, I asked McFadden to share with me why he believed winning this award was important.
“This [Excellence in Club Management] award views success from the accomplishments of the entire team,” he replied. “Without a strong partnership with each of these stakeholders, no leader is successful, and many of the strategic projects this award recognizes would not have been realized.
“Our grand club is 148 years old, yet here we are continuing to re-create excellence on various levels, and thus securing a vibrant future for all involved,” he added. “We will continue to reimagine our services and our membership proposition while keeping the legendary traditions of the club alive.”
If we can all be as team-centric and as tenacious as McFadden—and my crew of soccer players—I have no doubt the future will be transformative.