Always looking to improve or evolve, club and resort chefs are constantly coming up with clever ideas to excite members and elevate the food and beverages they serve.
Few things enrage me more than when a food critic hops up on his or her high horse in a restaurant review and insults the food they are critiquing by comparing it to club cuisine.
What they mean to say, I think, is that the food or restaurant is stuffy, expensive or dated. And it very well may be all those things—but clubs most certainly aren’t.
What these comparisons tell me instead is that the writer hasn’t actually stepped inside a club in at least a decade. Newsflash, dear food critic: Club cuisine isn’t what you think. Quite the opposite, actually.
The lion’s share of club chefs I encounter are unwilling to stay stagnant. Always looking to improve or evolve, these individuals come up with clever ideas to excite members and elevate the food and beverages they serve. (Like this milkshake idea, or this wellness-focused menu, or these hacks that make chef life easier.)
They are also always on the hunt for new ideas. So, here are three pretty nifty ideas that I’ve encountered in the past couple of months that I think club chefs might like to hear about:
1. The Power of Fruit
While dining out a few weeks ago, my kids (who are 7, 5 and 2) were offered an “appetizer” of 4 watermelon slices each. They thought it was the single coolest dining moment of their lives. We were thrilled they were offered something healthy to nosh on while we waited for our meals. And the cost to the restaurant was what, 30 cents? It was a win for everyone.
2. Get On Their Calendars
Every time I book a flight, make a hotel or restaurant reservation, or even sign up for a fitness class, I get a calendar invite. Do you send calendar invites to your members? It sure would help curb no-shows.
3. Get Creative With Guest Chef Programs
At the end of June, five club chefs in the Charlotte, N.C. area got together for a collaborative 5-course beer dinner benefitting The Bulb mobile markets, a non-profit that provides access to fresh, local produce as well as health and wellness education for food-insecure communities.
The participating chefs—Jamie Bostian, Executive Chef of Peninsula Yacht Club; Charles Gardiner, Executive Chef of The Club at Longview; Blair Cannon, Executive Chef of Forsyth Country Club; Scott Craig, Director of Culinary Operations at Myers Park Country Club; and Joy Turner, Food & Beverage Director/Executive Chef of Pine Island Country Club—came together to turn out what looked to be an incredible (and delicious) event.
In Club + Resort Business’s June Ideas issue, we featured a reunion dinner where Druid Hills Golf Club’s Executive Chef, JohnMichael Lynch, invited chefs he had worked with at nearby Cherokee Town and Country Club to come to his club for a unique guest-chef event.
Both of these programs showcased the immense talent in our industry, while also inspiring the chefs who participated.
Ideas are everywhere. Keep innovating. Keep pushing the envelope. Keep putting your members and their needs first.
And do me a favor? Shout your accomplishments from the rooftop, so those annoying critics might learn a thing or two about true club cuisine.