C+RC‘s VP-Group Publisher, Tom McIntyre, speaks directly to GMs about the importance of continuing education for chefs and food-and-beverage teams.
Earlier this month, I ran into a friend who was out to dinner with his young family at a steakhouse here in Cleveland. I was surprised to see him in this setting, as he typically dines at his club when he’s out with his whole crew.
I asked him what the occasion was, and why they weren’t at the club.
“The club’s food is stagnant,” he said. “There’s nothing new and even the most basic entrees are boring. My kids are tired of the ‘same-old, same-old,’ and so is my wife.”
That answer should alarm the management at my friend’s club, as he certainly isn’t the only member with this opinion. The question is, what is his club doing about it?
With golf rounds being depressed, clubs have to knock it out of the park with other offerings. For some clubs, that means the introduction of a new golf simulator, new fitness programs or other new initiatives, to ensure that the entire family is able to use the club to its fullest potential.
No matter the initiative, though, when members use the club, they use F&B.
Back to my friend. His wife doesn’t want to go to the club, and neither do his kids. So instead, he’s spending $250 on a Friday night outside of the club, even though he has an F&B minimum to hit.
I told my friend about our annual Chef to Chef Conference, and later I sent him some videos from the 2019 event like the one above, as well some information about the 2020 Chef to Chef Conference in Charlotte. I encouraged him to talk to his club’s leadership and suggest they send their chef.
He called me back a few days later and told me he spoke with his GM, who said, “It’s not in our budget.”
Most clubs send their superintendents to the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America’s Golf Industry Show. They send their golf pros to the PGA Show. And they send their general managers to the Club Management Association of America’s World Conference and Club Business Expo. These are all great organizations, and attendance at their events are all worthwhile investments of time and resources.
But what about the culinary team? Where do they go to network with club chefs and discuss the unique challenges specific to this industry?
Twelve years ago, we launched the Chef to Chef Conference to create a community for food-and-beverage professionals on both sides of the house. We now have a dedicated magazine, a website with cultivated industry content, blogs written by practicing club chefs, a recipe site with thousands of recipes, food-and-beverage newsletters, videos, podcasts and more.
The Chef to Chef Conference and Club + Resort Chef have become the home for like-minded club culinarians to gather, share ideas and overcome challenges to help their clubs (and their staffs) avoid becoming boring, stagnant and rote.
GMs: If one member is taking his family out to dinner and spending $250, what do you think the odds are that 100 other members are doing the same thing each month, or worse, each week? That’s a loss of $25,000 in sales. It’s also a missed opportunity to put a spotlight on your culinary team and inspire guests who might consider joining your club someday.
If you haven’t been to the Chef to Chef Conference, or you haven’t sent your Executive Chef, Sous Chef, Line Cook or F&B Manager, I strongly urge you to consider it. I believe strongly in the power of networking and idea-sharing. The wealth of talent and experience that your team will be exposed to in three days will elevate your club’s culinary programs in myriad ways.
And it’s not just me who thinks so. Chef to Chef has a 70% renewal rate year-over-year, with 260 private clubs participating in the annual Conference. The investment works for these clubs and their chefs—and it’ll work for you, too.