Austin CC’s culinary team listens to the needs and wants of its members, and then adapts menus and specials accordingly.
Being a part of the culinary world can be overwhelming at times. We have access to thousands of spices and types of produce as well as an array of local and international ingredients we can utilize in the kitchen to create new dishes.
Every city is known for certain traditional dishes, yet nowadays with the ability to draw inspiration from around the world, the culinary industry is evolving through a focus on creativity, new techniques, and a fusion of unique cultures.
I have been able to experience this change while living in Austin, a city where new restaurants open daily, live music is on every corner, and we host huge events like South by Southwest, Formula 1, and Austin City Limits. It is a place that is continuously changing and moving forward, and that has influenced the local food scene immensely.
Here at the Austin Country Club, we make it a priority to always stay current on food trends. We visit local restaurants and events, read magazines and newspapers, talk to nearby farms, and get to know other local chefs. Our goal is for our members to make our club their dining destination at any time—whether it is for lunch, dinner, or special events—and we hope that knowing the local food scene will help us achieve that goal.
When we explore what other chefs are doing within our city, we often have the opportunity to sit down with them and pick their brains. I am always fascinated by how every chef has such a different point of view on the ingredients they use and on food as a whole. It is inspiring to me and I enjoy going back to the club and using that inspiration to come up with our own new dishes.
Another great and easy way to keep up with the new culinary trends is to talk to our food providers. It is easy to forget that they work with a lot of different chefs, both local and not. They have a unique viewpoint of the culinary world and can be a great resource. I encourage you to be open to the new items they offer and perhaps a new trend will start.
As club chefs, we have the unique ability to ask for feedback from our members to understand what they would like to see on our menus. We are able to customize our menu to their tastes and preferences. When we are not able to put all the requests on our seasonal menu, we are still able to incorporate new dishes into our Friday Family buffet or put a new twist on our Sunday brunch while still providing everyone’s favorite breakfast items.
One of the unique challenges we have is that we do not have a 2-hour time frame to serve dinner like our upscale competitors. Our members are busy and typically are dining with us before or after a tee time or tennis match. They expect fast service so they can get back to their full schedules.
We have to provide the best service and serve the same quality of food in a shorter amount of time—and we do. Many members see the club as their home, creating an even higher expectation. As a food and beverage operation, we strive for them to choose the club at all times.
Listening to their needs and wants and adapting accordingly ensures that they feel comfortable and will join us again and again.
A trend I’ve seen recently is that many people are cooking at home and being more health-conscious and we are working to cater to that need. As a club, we always strive to provide a trendy, yet family environment where everyone can experience a good time while they are here. Luckily, our kitchen enjoys some friendly competition and we are not afraid to try new things.
With the skills and ability to showcase excellence in modern food yet still keep our classical cooking techniques, we can show our membership the value in returning frequently to the club to see what new and exciting meals we have created especially for them.