Annually, over the past 14 years, regional vice presidents have nominated exemplary chefs from their area to travel to Napa Valley, California on a vendor-sponsored incentive trip to learn from the best at the Culinary Institute of America.
The trips focus on culinary and wine education for the chefs, who attend classes for seven to eight hours daily during the week and visit different wineries in the evenings. Fifteen of ClubCorp’s best chefs took part in this year’s trip in August.
The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) at Greystone in St. Helena, California was formerly an old winery owned by the Christian Brothers before being transformed into a CIA campus offering culinary arts continuing education. Both the exterior and interior of the facility are breathtaking. And since vendors donate their equipment to be used by some of the best chefs in the country, it is home to the most up-to-date and advanced equipment.
This year’s agenda covered some of the new hot topics in the world of culinary arts. One day was dedicated to learning about sous-vide cooking, a method of cooking in plastic bags, and two whole days were spent on charcuterie, a specific preparation of meat. Another popular topic covered was the farm-to-table approach of utilizing local sources for ingredients in the kitchen.
Classes were taught by the senior culinary instructor at Greystone in a private classroom. The chefs were also able to visit many beautiful Napa Valley farms, everything from pig and cattle farms to vegetable and olive farms.
For Jeff Zimmerman, ClubCorp’s director of culinary development, the trip and the opportunity to interact with all the other chefs is always a wonderful experience.
“It’s great to watch the chefs grow and be educated in ways they don’t even know until they return to their clubs,”said Zimmerman. “Every day, everything was about cooking.”