Paul Bundick Chef Profile
Current Position: Executive Chef, 2007-Present, Pine Valley (N.J.) Golf Club
Previous Experience: Sous Chef, 1998-2007, Pine Valley (N.J.) Golf Club
Education: Academy of Culinary Arts, Mays Landing, N.J.
Continuing Education, The Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park, N.Y.
Professional Affiliation: American Culinary Federation
Executive Chef Paul Bundick has put his own distinctive culinary imprint on Pine Valley GC.
Pine Valley Golf Club (PVGC) has been consistently ranked for many years by Golf Digest as the top golf course in the U.S. Each year that PVGC retains that distinction, it adds more luster to the legend of how, in 1912, businessman George Arthur Crump gazed out at a stretch of rolling hills in the southern New Jersey pinelands while riding a train from Philadelphia to Atlantic City, and had a vision for creating a special golfing experience that avid players would come from around the world to enjoy.
Crump knew what he wanted the design to look like, even though he had never built a golf course before:
– He wanted no hole to be parallel to the next.
– While playing a hole, he didn’t want to see any other hole.
– He did not want more than two successive holes to play in the same direction.
– A round of golf at his club should require every club in a golfer’s bag.
Crump spent much of his vast fortune to build Pine Valley, but never saw the completion of his dream project, as he died in 1918. The last four holes were finished by other designers, but Crump’s mark remained on the final touches—and his dream for providing a unique golfing destination has since been lovingly preserved by the members and management of Pine Valley for nearly 100 years.
While the PVGC experience will always be built around playing its legendary golf course, through the years that experience has been enhanced by excellent hospitality and service in all other aspects of the operation, including Food & Beverage. Currently, the Executive Chef at Pine Valley is Paul Bundick, who was promoted to that position in 2007 after serving as a Sous Chef for 10 years under PVGC’s previous Executive Chef, Henry Piotrowski, Jr. (“Bringing Great Golf Full Circle,” C&RB, November 2006).
|Pine Valley’s modest clubhouse (below) and main dining room (above) are now complemented on the property by cottages and dormitories, to help accommodate a steady stream of visitors.|
Since becoming Pine Valley’s newest top chef, Paul has focused on enhancing the atmosphere of quality and consistency that is required at such a tradition-steeped property as Pine Valley. As another busy season wound down, Paul was kind enough to take the time to share some details with C&RB on how he has implemented his objectives to put his own stamp on the food-and-beverage offerings of such a special club.
Q: Chef, having been a long-time sous chef before you took over as Pine Valley’s newest Executive Chef, what were some immediate changes you made after you were promoted?
A: With society moving toward a healthier lifestyle, so have our members. We added a couple of new, healthier lunch entrée choices, such as seared crab cake instead of fried, and our blackened salmon served with a mixed green salad. We also started switching some of our heavier cream-based soups to more of a broth base. On the dinner menu, we decided it would be best to expand our fish selections.
Q: When you assumed the role of Executive Chef, was there anything that surprised you about what the day-to-day job responsibilities entailed?
A: After being sous chef here for several years, one of the biggest learning experiences was taking over the inventory. I already knew what we needed, but learning how to maintain inventory levels took a little getting used to.
Also, since moving into the Executive Chef role, I have learned that communication with the other department heads is imperative, to obtain the goals we set forth in the kitchen.
Q: How do you go about implementing change from a culinary standpoint at a club that is so steeped in tradition?
A: This perhaps has been one of the toughest hurdles to overcome. When you are dealing with a club that hasn’t changed much in the last 100 years, you have to tread very lightly with the changes you want to make. I have learned it is better to make small changes, and make them one at a time, so as not to overwhelm our membership. With new and younger membership coming into the club, this also helps us change with the culinary times.
Q: Chef, what concepts have you introduced for your catering operation since you’ve taken over?
A: As mentioned before, communication is key. For our banquets, we have spent more time discussing menus with our Director of Wine, to make sure we are properly pairing for these events. We have also added a few new hors d’ oeuvres. I have also spent more time working with the wait staff, to make sure their service is seamlessly integrated with the kitchen staff.
Q: Paul, what are the food and beverage expectations at Pine Valley, as conveyed to you by management, the House committee, or the Board?
A: The Board, management, and members have always been open to suggestions. Their primary concern is that everything that leaves our kitchen is consistent and of the best quality.
Q: You are in one of the busiest regions in the country for fresh produce, and June through September is an especially great time to get the best of what the “Garden State” can provide. What is your procedure for getting the freshest items New Jersey has to offer into the Pine Valley kitchen?
A: I work with a local farm that is only five miles from the club. I go there every day to pick up fresh-picked corn and tomatoes, which are our top sellers. I also can get locally grown herbs, fruits and vegetables from my produce purveyor.
I also use New Jersey fisheries. We are only 50 miles from the Jersey shore, and during the summer months we can get really great fish and shellfish. I receive e-mails every morning from my seafood supplier to let me know what is coming in. From there I can plan my catch of the day, for that evening’s dinner service.
Q: Chef, for those of us who have never taken continuing education courses offered by the Culinary Institute of America, or at other professional conferences like C&RB’s Chef to Chef Conference, can you explain a little about how it has helped you in your career to find the time to have these experiences, and why you would recommend that others try to do the same?
A: I would highly recommend continued education, because the culinary field is ever-changing. Trends come and go, and as a professional chef you have no choice but to find ways to keep up with them. I recommend to all of my staff that during their off-seasons, they should enroll in some type of continuing education.
The Culinary Institute of America is one of the highest-rated culinary organizations in the country. I have always found their instructors to be very informative and professional.
By attending these courses, it not only helps my personal and professional development, it also affords me the opportunity to bring back what I have learned to my staff. This helps to keep all of us on the cutting edge of culinary trends, and provides our members with an experience that’s second to none.
Q: Finally, Paul, at a property where there are celebrity members and even more celebrity guests who can pop in for a round of golf anytime, is there an interesting story that sticks out in your mind, or someone interesting whom you’ve met?
A: That’s actually a tough question to answer, because most of the time you get into a conversation with a guest, and you don’t even realize who it was until they walk away.