With his tenured General Manager’s upcoming retirement, Chad Myers, Executive Chef of Dubuque (Iowa) Golf & Country Club has begun wondering what the future will hold for himself and his club.
I’m not great in interview situations or at selling myself. I prefer to let my skills, work ethic and food speak for me. When I start a new job, I typically start in a lower rank and work my way up. I’m not complaining, though. The work is what I’m good at. It’s what pushes me to grow, evolve and prove myself. And when I look back at the places where I used to cook before coming to Dubuque (Iowa) Golf & Country Club, many of the same people are still there in the same positions. It makes me proud to know I’ve been able to move on and up and continue to grow as a chef and leader.
Things are about to change here at the club and I’m going to cross a bridge I’ve never crossed before. And to be honest, I’m nervous about what the future holds. My General Manager recently announced this season will be his last and a new GM will be in place by the end of the year after the club goes through a formal search.
When I started at Dubuque G&CC, I came from a small independent restaurant. My wife, Billie, had recently earned a promotion and we had a baby girl on the way as well as an 18-month-old son. The plan was for me to be a stay-at-home dad Monday through Friday and get a part-time position in a kitchen on the weekends to keep my creative juices flowing.
At the same time, Dubuque G&CC had recently hired a new executive chef who was looking to bring on new talent. Prior to his appointment, I had interviewed a couple of times for other positions here, but it was never the right fit. Yet, something kept bringing me back. The club was well known for having amazing food and with the newly appointed chef being a Certified Executive Chef I felt like I had something to learn. So I gave it another try.
After that interview, the chef and GM decided to bring me on board part-time. I started helping in banquets and then on the line. Things were going well for me and the club. We were putting out some good food and I was enjoying being part of a staff instead of alone in a restaurant kitchen. At the same time, I felt like I could do more and my chef and GM had mentioned on numerous occasions that they wanted me to come on full-time. After talking with my wife, we decided I should accept this opportunity for both myself and my family. It was a quick change of heart, but it felt right.
A short time later, I was in line to become sous chef. But everything changed again. My chef had decided that the Midwest wasn’t for him and he resigned. My GM, who had observed me closely throughout my time with the club, asked if I thought I could take over the operation. I said yes. Three seasons later, here I am. I can’t thank my GM enough for giving me this opportunity and for having confidence in me. I’m not a traditional club chef. I tend to be more modern in my food. He knew that, but still gave me the chance of a lifetime. And he has seen the value of reinvesting in his me over these past few years by sending me to the Chef to Chef Conference and encouraging me to write for this blog.
I could definitely be better at things like buffet presentations, baking and desserts, but being a chef is a learning process and I give it my all every day. I think he appreciates that most as that is what consistently moves us forward.
Soon I will have to face the many questions about him leaving that I have been keeping inside. Am I going to be good enough for the new GM? Will he or she want a chef with certifications, the tall hat, and bravado? Will he or she be familiar with modern cooking techniques? Will he or she want me to learn new skills? Will he or she bring “their chef” here and simply clean house?
Or will this new GM see and appreciate what we’re doing here at Dubuque G&CC and trust that as professionals we’ll continue to please our members, push the envelope where we can and should, and grow the operation as we have been over these past three years?
Time will tell.
I realize that I fear the unknown. I have always had the stability of knowing my GM believes in me and is willing to invest in me as a chef. Maybe it’s just anticipation and nerves. Maybe if we keep doing what we do, history will repeat itself and my skills, work ethic and food will continue to speak for me. I’m hopeful. I’m nervous. And I’m excited. The future may be unknown, but I believe it will be bright and this new GM will work with us to further improve Dubuque G&CC’s food-and-beverage operation.