Club chefs are responding to the constraints of the coronavirus crisis with new holiday programs and menus.
Holidays, like Easter, Passover, and Mother’s Day, typically bring members and their families together at the club. But shelter-in-place orders have meant that members across the country—and their clubs’ culinary staffs—have had to find ways to celebrate holidays differently this year.
“Food has taken on even more importance during this crisis,” says Andrew LaHaye, CEC, Executive Chef of Woodland Golf Club, Auburndale, Mass. LaHaye and his team typically create extravagant buffets for both Easter and Mother’s Day, but this year they switched to carryout meals for both events.
“We hope that these to-go offerings give our members a sense of hope and security—no matter how bittersweet it may be,” he adds.
Not all clubs have been able to offer to-go service, though. Glen Ridge (N.J.) Country Club, Atlanta Country Club (Marietta, Ga.), The Haven Country Club (Boylston, Mass.), and Monterey Peninsula Country Club (Pebble Beach, Calif.) are some of the clubs that were forced to close their doors based on different state regulations.
“It’s unfortunate because the holiday events, which always sell out, have become traditions for many of our members,” says Katie McAllister, Pastry Chef of Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, N.Y., which canceled Easter celebrations and will remain closed until June 1st.
But for the clubs able to continue operations under a to-go/carryout model, ingenuity has led to lots of creative curbside and virtual activities.
Fred Ramsey, CEC, Executive Chef of Pelican Golf Club in Belleair, Fla., commissioned the club’s two dedicated sprinter vans and valet service to deliver Easter meals to members unable to leave their homes.
Pelican’s serving staff took orders over the phone and turned the club’s dining room into a staging area, to package meals featuring items like she-crab soup, rosemary and mustard-crusted roast pork loin, and various cookies, pies and cakes.
Matthew Azevedo, Executive Chef of Peninsula Golf and Country Club in San Mateo, Calif, wanted to keep his holiday menu simple, with minimal preparation needed. He offered items like spring greens, roasted leg of lamb, shrimp cocktail and a strawberry rhubarb crumb tart for dessert.
“Easter dinner pickup sold out within an hour,” says Azevedo. “We’re excited to be able to provide this option for our members, even if it’s not the traditional grand buffet. We are still providing a feeling of familiarity during a difficult time.”
Looking to add a little something extra to the pickup process, a number of clubs—including the Country Club of Paducah (Ky.), The Country Club of Virginia (Richmond, Va.) and Talbot Country Club (Easton, Md.)—invited the Easter Bunny to help load cars.
In place of traditional egg hunts at the club, some clubs offered to hide eggs in the yards of neighboring members. Others, including Stock Farm Club in Hamilton, Mont., Cherry Creek Country Club in Denver, Colo., and Del Paso Country Club in Sacramento, Calif., offered kits for cookie decorating and egg dying, virtual coloring contests, and candy bags for families missing the traditional festivities.
“We’re all just trying to bring as much normalcy as possible,” says Scott Stiehl, Executive Chef of the Country Club of Crystal Coast (Pine Knoll Shores, N.C.), where the Easter Bunny drove around on a golf cart waving to members.
“We want to provide the same feeling to our members as if they were dining with us,” adds Laura Herman, Pastry Chef of the Woman’s Athletic Club in Chicago, which offered cookie decorating, egg dying and egg hunt kits to member families.
Executing the Day
With many clubs being forced to furlough staff, providing hundreds of high-quality to-go meals posed some challenges to keep food fresh during travel time and make sure it would be easy for members to reheat in their homes.
Executive chefs like John McManus of St. Davids Golf Club in Wayne, Pa. and Pedro Sanchez, CEC, of BraeBurn Country Club in Houston, Texas, offered the option to pick up meals before Easter Sunday that included easy-to-follow reheating instructions.
Chefs displayed extra caution planning the details of the day, to ensure limited exposure.
At Grosse Pointe Yacht Club (Grosse Pointe Shores, Mich.), Executive Chef Colby Newman had members submit orders through e-mail. Then the club’s valet staff assisted during pickup, placing orders directly into members’ cars. At both Holston Hills Country Club (Knoxville, Tenn.) and Northampton Country Club (Easton, Pa.), the chefs organized staggered pickup times to avoid large rushes of people and long waits.
And for club members who ended up spending the day alone to adhere to distancing guidelines, Michael Starkey, Executive Chef of Birchwood Farms Golf and Country Club in Harbor Springs, Mich., offered single-serve plates. “We wanted to make sure we didn’t forget about them or their needs,” he says.
Michael Valentino, Executive Chef of Beechmont Country Club in Beachwood, Ohio, prepared a carryout Seder meal for club members to celebrate Passover, featuring items like chicken, salmon, roast brisket and Matzo ball soup.
One Week at a Time
As April ended, many chefs were still hoping to be able to celebrate Mother’s Day with a dine-in experience. But they were also making plans for offering creative ways to celebrate moms, should stay-at-home orders be extended. With Easter having provided a chance for chefs to test their takeout systems, they were confident that, if needed, those processes could be used again to help the same approaches for Mother’s Day operations run even more smoothly.
David Daddezio, Executive Chef of Vicmead Hunt Club (Wilmington, Del.), was planning to offer a Mother’s Day “breakfast in bed” box that included a place setting, a bottle of Prosecco, a bottle of orange juice, smoked salmon, eggs, bacon, fresh fruit and a loaf of bread with a small jar of preserves.
Pelican GC’s Ramsey was planning to send chocolate boxes to moms, while Scott Ryan, Executive Chef of The Country Club in Pepper Pike, Ohio, was planning to assemble gardening kits to send alongside meal orders. “We hope to make this holiday special by offering great products and ease of preparation to our members,” Ryan said.
Whether clubs will return to business as usual before Memorial Day was also still up in the air—but if that proves to be the case, club chefs will no doubt be ready to adapt.
“As club chefs, we must continue to provide our members with the amazing food that they are accustomed to and are unable to get anywhere else,” says Bradley Fisher, CEC, CCA, Executive Chef of Berkshire Country Club in Reading, Pa. “Hopefully our responses to member service during this strange time will remind them that excellent and creative food—along with all the other amenities that they love to enjoy—was here before COVID-19, and it will be here long after, too.”
Easter, Mother’s Day, Passover and Sedar Menus
Below is a sampling of menus from clubs across the industry.
Mother’s Day Menus
- 2020 Mother’s Day – The Club at Pasadera
- 2020 Mother’s Day – River Bend Club
- 2020 Mother’s Day – Maryland G&CC
- 2020 Mother’s Day – Bald Head Island Club
- 2020 Mother’s Day – CC of Paducah
- 2020 Easter – Baltusrol GC
- 2020 Easter – Baton Rouge CC
- 2020 Easter – Berkshire CC
- 2020 Easter – Birchwood Farms G&CC
- 2020 Easter – Blackthorn Club at the Ridges
- 2020 Easter – Brae Burn CC
- 2020 Easter – Carlouel Yacht & Beach Club
- 2020 Easter – CC of Landfall
- 2020 Easter – Cherry Creek
- 2020 Easter – Colonial Club
- 2020 Easter – Coral Ridge CC
- 2020 Easter – Country Club of Paducah
- 2020 Easter – Country Club of Virginia
- 2020 Easter – Davids GC
- 2020 Easter – Del Paso CC
- 2020 Easter – Denton Country Club
- 2020 Easter – Druid Hills
- 2020 Easter – Edgewood CC
- 2020 Easter – El Dorado CC
- 2020 Easter – Forsyth CC
- 2020 Easter – Fort Wayne CC
- 2020 Easter – Genesee Valley Club
- 2020 Easter – Holston Hills CC
- 2020 Easter – Kinloch GC
- 2020 Easter – Lakewood Yacht Club
- 2020 Easter – Latrobe Country Club
- 2020 Easter – Maryland G&CC
- 2020 Easter – Metairie CC
- 2020 Easter – Midland CC
- 2020 Easter – Mira Vista CC
- 2020 Easter – Mountain Brook
- 2020 Easter – North Hampton
- 2020 Easter – Northshore CC
- 2020 Easter – Pelican GC
- 2020 Easter – River Bend Club
- 2020 Easter – Sawgrass CC
- 2020 Easter – Shadow Glen
- 2020 Easter – Stock Farm Club
- 2020 Easter – Summit Hills CC
- 2020 Easter – Sunset Ridge Country Club
- 2020 Easter – The Club at Pasadera
- 2020 Easter – The Country Club
- 2020 Easter – The Peninsula Golf and Country Club
- 2020 Easter – The Pittsburgh GC
- 2020 Easter – Vanderbuilt CC
- 2020 Easter – Vicmead Hunt Club
- 2020 Easter – Women’s Athletic Club of Chicago
- 2020 Easter – Woodhill CC
Seder & Passover Menus