I’m now the Executive Chef of Brentwood Country Club in Los Angeles. This is my second club property and third in a different major market. I’ve heard from both members and chefs that this must “be so different” from my last two club positions. In many ways, it is different, but the core remains the same. I was in southwest Florida, the Midwest, and now, for a month, in West Los Angeles. Although all are in the U.S., their cultures, foods, values, and landscapes vary significantly. For example, in the Midwest, it would take me 10 minutes to drive 7 miles, whereas in Los Angeles yesterday, it took 50 minutes on the 405. The locations may change, but the members remain consistent in two specific desires: a connection from their home to the club and a relationship with the chef.
As I’ve been told before, today’s members want the same relationship with their golf professional as they do with their chef. People are more interested than ever in the chef’s lifestyle through food networks, cooking shows, and social media. Believe it or not, my most common question during my first week on the West Coast was, “Have you seen FX’s ‘The Bear’? I love that show.” As much as we might think it doesn’t matter, the impact of a white coat hitting the table is significant. It can transform a decent dining experience into a special moment and help build a connection between the chef and the members. Whether seeking feedback or simply surveying the room, the feeling it can impart to a member and the guest they’ve brought, whether from out of town or another club, is not to be taken lightly; you can make their day.
The club should be an extension of a member’s home. Some clubs I’ve worked at have 4th and 5th-generation members. Regardless of location, they come to us for personalized service and a sense of community. They hold memories of many years of children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren enjoying club holidays or weekend dinners. While they can afford to dine at some of the best restaurants in town, they choose the club because of the smiles, similarities, and personalized experiences. Every club I have been a part of has upheld traditions that members cherish, and it’s our responsibility to maintain or enhance those traditions. I’ve always enjoyed that I might encounter a member 3 to 5 times in the same week at various events or dining occasions, and each time, I can deliver a distinct yet familiar experience.
So, yes, the cities may change from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean, from cornfields to city blocks, but members and guests seek the same things: a connection with the person in the white coat and a place they can consider their second home. To me, food has always been about community and connection. As chefs, we can bring people together from diverse backgrounds. When considering diverse opportunities, I encourage you not to fret over the differences between each location. I promise that wherever there is a club, there is a community of people seeking meaningful connections and exceptional food.