The culinary team of Traditions Club in Bryan Texas, hosted a unique culinary competition for a member and his corporate team.
Lindsley Ruth, the CEO of Allied Electronic and Automation, reached out to us as he was looking to hold a team-building event for his company. Melissa Davis, our Food and Beverage Director, pitched the idea of a cooking competition. Lindsley loved the idea. He’s a member here and he dines with us frequently. He told us that he trusts the club with his staff and didn’t feel comfortable doing this type of event anywhere else during the pandemic.
The event took around a week to plan and prepare. A time line, score card, equipment list, ingredient list and room diagram were created for the event. We had aprons embroidered with the title chef and each of the employees’ names on them. We purchased a medal for the first prize winner of the event. The culinary team packed assorted ingredients into mason jars and labeled them. We packed up everything one would need to make a complete appetizer and an entrée including grains, pasta, produce, dairy and spices. In addition to the staple ingredients I flew in diver scallops and wild caught jumbo shrimp flown in from Triar Seafood in Hollywood, Florida, as well as mixed flowers and fresh greens from the The Chefs Garden in Huron, Ohio.
We served the the company employees and managers a breakfast buffet at Traditions before they were sent off campus for a meeting at our sister property, The Stella Hotel. While they were gone, the main ball room was transformed into a cooking arena. We set up 4 large L-shaped cooking stations, equipped with 3 portable burners, two cutting boards with cooking utensils and oil. The stations on the tables were spread out to keep everyone socially distanced from one another. In the center of the room we set up three tables, one for pots, pans and utensils, One table with main ingredient and the third was all of the produce, spices and grains they would need to make their dishes. We laid out the embroidered aprons on each station they were assigned to.
When the guests arrived back at the club, they enjoyed a cocktail hour outside of the ballroom. They were asking questions about what was in store for the evening but were only told that it was a surprise. The chairman of the competition, Bill Slade, VP/COO, invited the group into the room and explained to them that they were going to be contestants in an iron chef competition. He requested that all employees keep their masks on and stay distanced from one another as much as possible. He then split the 24 people into 4 groups. The challenge was for each team to use the mystery basket ingredient (shellfish) to pair a custom cocktail in 30 minutes, create an appetizer in 45 minutes and an entree in 1 hour. The four teams were split into two person teams for each category. Two team members were sent out to the main bar and paired with Traditions Club’s mixologists for the cocktails. Two team members were assigned the appetizer and two were assigned the entrées. Our club chefs served as team captains for the appetizer and entrée dishes.
Each dish was scored by a scale of 1-10 for flavor, creativity and presentation. Each team had an opportunity to win in each dish category as well as win first place in the overall competition.
All of the contestants had a blast. They were really into creating and selling their dishes. I was especially impressed by how they gave a little background into the theme of the menu and how each of the dishes tied into it. The winning dishes were:
- Cocktail- Jalapeno Margarita
- Appetizer- Bacon Wrapped Diver Scallops with Pineapple Teriyaki;
- Entrée- Sous Vide Jumbo Prawn with Crawfish and Scallop Risotto.
I followed up with Lindsley after the event and he was floored by how well it went. He said that this is all his staff has been talking about at work since. Lindsley has been cooking since he was 5 years old, and considers himself a foodie. The event was like a dream come true for him as he has always wanted to compete in a cooking competition.
We were thrilled to not only go above and beyond to please a member, but also extend what makes Tradition’s Club special to that member’s company.