How a Guest Chef Taught, Inspired, and Motivated Us

By | April 5th, 2017

Amarillo (Texas) CC’s Executive Chef invited Chef Martín Rios, of Restaurant Martín, to the club for its first ever Guest Chef Dinner. The experience was so valuable for that the club has decided to continue the series with more chefs from around the country.

Colby Newman, Executive Chef of Amarillo (Texas) CC (left) with Chef Martín Rios of Restaurant Martín (right).

As I’ve said in the past, Amarillo is not necessarily an ideal place for a chef. It’s not the easiest place to grow your knowledge about food and we don’t have any nationally awarded restaurants to visit for inspiration. Even so, it’s crucial for me to stay current and take time to stay educated for myself, my staff, and our members. We’re lucky to live in a world where it’s so easy to gain information through social media, google, magazines and cookbooks that can be delivered to your door in just days. But sometimes, that’s not enough. I like to learn from someone right next to me. I like to see the process and taste the food, rather than staring at a screen or a page.

One of my goals for this year was to bring in a guest chef to collaborate on a dinner. I’m pleased to say that on March 24th we achieved that goal. Quite honestly, with how busy chefs are I have no idea how we were able to get an event together so quickly, but I am thankful for the experience.

I wanted to start our guest chef series at Amarillo (Texas) Country Club with a chef from Santa Fe. Only a 4-hour drive from us, Santa Fe is considered one of the closest and best nearby getaway destinations for people in Amarillo. I wanted to showcase a restaurant that was “close” to guarantee the chef would be able to leverage this opportunity to get new customers in the door.

Chef Martín Rios, of Restaurant Martín, agreed to come down to Amarillo for two days. Chef Rios has been a James Beard finalist several times, and a week before his appearance he was nominated for Best Chef Southwest again. It was obviously an amazing experience for everyone involved.

Through numerous emails and phone calls between Chef Rios and his wife Jennifer, who is the General Manager of their restaurant, we were able to create a five-course dinner. Chef Rios created three courses and the other two were created by me and my staff. While our club is private, we thought it was important to open this event to guests. With only 100 spots, we sold out in a matter of hours and the wait-list began to build.

I wanted to allow non-members to experience this opportunity as great exposure for Chef Rios as well as for our club using it to possibly gaining new memberships.

We also closed our kitchen for the evening as I wanted everyone on my staff to be able to be a part of this event and help with prepping, plating, and learning from Chef Rios, who has to be one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. With all the stress of that the week, being able to work alongside Chef Rios for two days was refreshing and the boost I needed. My staff had an amazing time, too. And learning and working with someone like him made my week. It was especially gratifying to hear that members thought that the taste and technique of our food is comparable to Chef Rios’. I think that was not only important for my staff to see, but also for our members to see.

Overall, it was an incredible and successful evening for our club, so much so that our President has suggested we do a Guest Chef Dinner every quarter. I was able to form a new relationship and learn new tips. Most importantly, I found new inspirations and motivations for myself and everyone in my kitchen. Chef Rios also invited me and members of my staff to join him at his restaurant in Santa Fe if we ever need to have a creative getaway. I am so thankful we were able to make an event like this happen for my staff and the people of Amarillo. I have a feeling I will be keeping in touch and seeing Chef Rios many more times in the future.

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