Executive chefs and Employee Partners from Tower Club Tysons Corner in Vienna, Virginia; City Club of Washington in DC; River Creek Club in Leesburg, Virginia; Chantilly National Golf and Country Club in Centreville, Virginia; and Piedmont Club in Haymarket, Virginia; embarked on a spicy, savory battle last month to be crowned the reigning gumbo champion. The Mardi Gras-style HUB event took place at the Tower Club, where Members and their Guests mingled while sampling bayou-inspired dishes and enjoying drinks and live music.
There to cast a vote was River Creek Member and NFL player Robert Royal, formerly of the Washington Redskins, Buffalo Bills and Cleveland Browns. Royal (pictured to the right with River Creek Chef Chris Kenworthy) was born in New Orleans and attended Louisiana State University and took the gumbo taste-off seriously.
Kudos to River Creek Chef Chris Kenworthy, whose gumbo was named the winner, and to Tower Club Server Bridget Connor, who took home the runner-up prize for her gumbo dish.
The Metropolitan Club in Chicago recently partnered up with Breakthrough Urban Ministries and the Club’s vendors to put on an eight-week cooking class for local seventh and eighth graders, incorporating invaluable life lessons.
Both Club General Manager Rick Kroner and Executive Chef Greg Carso were looking for ways to give back to the community when they were introduced to Breakthrough Urban Ministries at a not-for-profit presentation at the Club.
Rick had coffee with the director and visited their facility, which prompted his idea to collaborate with the organization and offer an after-school cooking class for the children.
Chef Greg put together an extensive curriculum that included everything from basic cooking techniques, safety and hygiene to reading recipes and even making homemade pasta from scratch.
Additionally, he incorporated lessons teaching ClubCorp’s Three Steps of Service (warm welcomes, magic moments and fond farewells), integrity, business etiquette, and interviewing skills.
The response and reception was wonderful and everyone Rick spoke with wanted to get involved. The Club’s vendors donated chef coats, linens and knives and every Tuesday for eight weeks, Chef Carso, Rick and employee partner volunteers drove to the facility for the classes.
The semester culminated in a memorable fashion, with the students preparing a meal for their families, a group of more than 200.
The children did everything. In addition to doing all the prepping, cooking and serving, they planned the mouth-watering menu: classic caesar salad with brioche croutons and shaved romano; four cheese baked penne pasta with fennel marinara and chicken picatta with a lemon caper butter sauce; and signature featured desserts created by the students, such as caramel and strawberry cheesecake.
As a special touch, they develped a “warm welcome” signature beverage, sparkling cider poinsettia with mango puree, and handed out “fond farewell” candy bars wrapped with their group photo.
“The kids worked so hard and stayed focused the whole evening," said Rick. “It was neat to see so many people get involved with this."
Breakthrough Urban Ministries is an organization working towards transforming East Garfield Park, a low-income community in Chicago, by providing homeless intervention for more than 1000 people annually, a fresh food pantry and an after-school youth development program.
Congratulations and Thank You to everyone who helped make this wonderful event possible!
Name: Brian Ayers
Residing ClubCorp Club: City Club on Bunker Hill, Los Angeles, Calif.
Career Highlights: I won the Julia Child Scholarship to attend Le Cordon Bleu culinary school in Paris. I did my externship at the The Greenbrier in West Virginia, and then afterwards I spent many years at Lespinasse in New York City.
Other than your chef knife, what is your favorite kitchen tool?: I am a big fan of the tilting brazier.
What had the greatest influence on your culinary career?: Working for Guy Savoy at his flagship restaurant in Paris showed me what was possible if you truly dedicate yourself to excellence.
What is your single favorite ingredient to cook with?: I would say that I get very excited when I am braising lamb shoulder.
What is something about you few people know?: Don’t tell anyone, but I enjoy playing the banjo.
What is one thing that can always be found in your home refrigerator?: Fresh Kimchee. I love the spicy, sour flavor.
If you could cook dinner for anyone, past, present or future, who would it be?: If I could go back in time, I think it would be awesome to cook a huge multi-course meal for Led Zeppelin in their heyday- what a party that would be!
What is your Walter Mitty fantasy?: I picture myself as a weathered adventurer who travels way off the beaten path exploring uncharted country with the unique ability to capture and forage for all necessary provisions and produce world-class cuisine from a camp fire.
What character traits/qualifications/skills make a good chef?: The unwavering ability to strive for improvement in all areas.
What do you like most about working at the City Club on Bunker Hill?: I love the fact that we truly get to know all of our members’ likes and dislikes, it makes it so much easier to hit home-run meals when you truly know your guests.
What do you see as the next big trend in food?: I believe the era of the upscale burger is coming to a close and I can’t wait for the trend in food to swing back to true fine dining, where the bar is raised and every detail is scrutinized.
Who knew watching movies could inspire children to cook?
Since the success of their debut event in July, Diamond Run Golf Club in Sewickley, Pa. has offered its' Members a monthly “Kid’s Cooking Class” where children can join Chef Bobby in a fun-filled movie-themed cooking class.
On September 19, 2012, Chef Bobby taught 15 kids how to make his special homemade marinara sauce. Afterwards, the kids appropriately watched Disney’s “The Lady and the Tramp” while happily enjoying their homemade saucy masterpiece.
For August’s automobile-themed class, the kids learned how to creatively decorate cupcakes to look like a car, all the while watching the Disney favorite “Cars”. During Diamond Run’s first class in July, the theme was based on Illumination Entertainment and Universal Pictures’ “The Lorax” so the kids wore mustaches and learned how to make pancakes.
The classes are a perfect quiet date-night opportunity for parents to eat dinner at the grille or play a round of golf.
Plans are tentatively set for a Halloween-themed class on October 24.
See below for Chef Bobby's special marinara recipe from the class on September 19.
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.”