With a positive attitude, Chad Myers, Executive Chef of Dubuque G&CC, will apply the lessons he’s learned during his tenure with the club to the road ahead.
A few weeks ago we had a seasonal menu tasting and front of house meeting. This signals the start of the busy season for us and it’s a really exciting time for me as Executive Chef of Dubuque (Iowa) Golf & Country Club. I think it must be like the adrenaline rush of a busy service on the line. How busy are we going to be? Do I have everything ready? Are we prepared for the best and worst case scenarios for a whole season?
It’s both daunting and exciting.
It’s a little like the beginning of the season for sports teams. Every team begins on the same level playing field and shares a similar drive to conquer every challenge and every obstacle. We have a mutual sense of pride and will, knowing we are going to give it all we’ve got. After all, anything is possible.
We’re also reminded that whatever happened in the past can now stay in the past, but that those lessons should shape how we approach the future. It’s a fresh start. And we have an overwhelming sense of optimism that makes every goal seem attainable. Worrying about if the weather is going to cooperate for all of the outdoor activities or if all of the new entrées will be popular isn’t fruitful. We’ve got this and we’ll succeed if we work hard.
This will be my third season as a club chef. I have two years of learning under my belt. I’ve slowed myself down to focus more on the details and improve our quality. Our success hinges on cooking simple foods perfectly. When it’s time to think outside the box, we do, but we do it in moderation as that’s not always what our members want or need.
Everything we do, we must do well. That’s our mantra.
Three years ago, I never thought I would take that approach. I wanted to change everything. But that’s not how we achieve success and that’s not how we please members.
This reinforces what I love about being a club chef. It’s a constant evolution. I’ve learned that we must take our time, digest what we learn and evolve from there. If I make a mistake, I must own it and learn from it. These are all lessons I am carrying with me as we enter our busy season. There will be ups and downs, but if I keep an open mind and remember what I’ve learned as well as introduce new things I think might work, success is the only possible outcome.
Speaking of evolution, one of the new dishes on the menu for this season is a rendition of something on the menu from my first season here. It’s inspired by a dish from Spoon & Stable—a restaurant by GavinKaysen featuring dishes inspired by French cuisine and focused on the seasonality of the Midwest—that opened in Minneapolis, Minn. around the same time. I had the pleasure of eating a grilled carrot salad that that blew my mind. So I did a copycat version on my first menu and sales were mixed.
This season I wanted to put a new spin on a carrot salad that would be consistently delicious and equally as beautiful. I start with a yogurt raita sauce, which consists of yogurt, minced cucumber, mint, ras al hanout, salt, pepper, garlic, and lime juice. That goes down on the plate first and on top of it goes grilled, halved carrots that are tossed in herb vinaigrette and puffed quinoa. Toss some shaved raw oca, carrot, and golden beet in lemon oil and nestle those on top of the grilled carrots. Add sunflower seeds and buttermilk curd for tang and texture. Garnish with micro fines herbes.
There is great balance in this dish between sweetness, acidity, and savoriness as well as a contrast in texture. It also has nice color to highlight with the season.
I hope that this salad catches on as a favorite as it shows how I have evolved as a chef and that I’m willing to improve upon myself and my past dishes. I didn’t invent the carrot salad, but I feel like this interpretation will give my members something to crave again and again.
One last thing: As we push forward into our busy season, it’s important that we all remember to take time for ourselves. We must spend time with our families. We don’t have to work ourselves to the bone physically and mentally to prove our dedication or skill. We just have to be smart about doing what we love.
There have been too many headlines of chefs who couldn’t sustain the run they were on. My hope is that none of us fall into this trap. For ourselves, our members’ and our staff’s sake, we must maintain the positive energy throughout the busy season—and the year.
I know that I can get lost in my head sometimes and put my health or well-being on the back burner. But if I remember the words I am typing right now—and hope that you do, too—we will all succeed this summer.